PELLA, Iowa — Police arrested and charged three men on Thursday after a woman alerted authorities on Wednesday to their suspicious behavior at a WalMart in Pella.
Kayla Keen reported to authorities that she thought three men were following her and her child in and out of the store on Wednesday around 4:30 p.m.
Keen originally thought they were targeting her, but after police reviewed video and continued their investigation they found out the men were actually trying to pull off a shoplifting scheme.
“We were able to determine that a theft had occurred and that’s exactly what the victim or our complainant had stepped into was right into the middle of a theft scheme that was occurring at the WalMart,” Pella Police Chief Robert Bokinsky said.
Keen said she provided police with a description of the three men as well as the color, make and license plate of their vehicle.
Police issued a public warning on Wednesday night, saying something suspicious had occurred and wanted the public to be aware. Just a few hours later Thursday morning, the suspect’s vehicle was located at a hotel in Oskaloosa by a concerned citizen who called police.
Oskaloosa Police took three men into custody and determined the men had been shoplifting from the store when the woman reported their activity.
Keen said she is glad it didn’t end up like she thought it would.
“I was relieved, honestly. Not that shoplifting is okay, because it’s not, I was afraid for my son and I was afraid for me and any other woman and child that were in there, because I didn’t know why they were there. And just the way they were acting was not okay,” Keen said
Police said without her awareness and immediate reporting they probably wouldn’t have caught the suspects.
“They were uncomfortable with her watching them, just as she was uncomfortable with them watching her. This is just your classic “see something, say something.” And in doing so, we were able to apprehend the thieves. If she hadn’t said something they most likely would have gotten away with this crime,” Bokinsky said.
Carlos Claro and Juan Rivero Garcia of Fort Dodge and Jesus Estrada of Katy, Texas are charged with Theft of Personal Items.