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Two men charged in meat thefts

August 12, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Police are investigating a theft operation that they say they believe is responsible for up to $1,600 worth of meat being stolen every week from several grocery stores in Jefferson and Berkeley counties.

In most of the cases, a shopping cart was loaded with meat and taken from the store through the entrance door, said Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy William Parker.

Two Jefferson County men were charged in relation to an incident last Wednesday, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

Tommy Lee Lanham, 23, of P.O. Box 2, Ranson, W.Va., and Robert Elwood Tarmon, 26, of P.O. Box 244, Charles Town, were charged with petit larceny and attempted petit larceny, court records said.

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Lanham and Tarmon allegedly entered the Martin's Food Market in the Jefferson Crossing shopping center last Wednesday and loaded a shopping cart, mostly with meat, court records allege.

Tarmon allegedly pushed the cart past the checkout area to an entrance, according to records.

Lanham went out the doors ahead of Tarmon to check the area, according to allegations in a criminal complaint filed by Parker. Lanham noticed a store manager and another employee and yelled to Tarmon in the store, the complaint alleges.

Tarmon abandoned the $417 worth of food in the shopping cart and fled on foot after being approached by a manager, court records allege.

Parker said both men later were detained by Charles Town Police Department officers until he arrived.

An investigation into the thefts was continuing, Parker said.

In other cases, most of the thefts occurred at Martin's Food Markets at the Jefferson Crossing shopping center along Flowing Springs Road near Charles Town and along Foxcroft Avenue near the Martinsburg Mall in Martinsburg, W.Va., Parker said.

Those responsible for the thefts walked out the entrance doors of the stores by pulling them open, Parker said. The automatic doors are designed to be easily opened in case someone gets caught in them, Parker said.

The meat then usually was sold to two to four other people for about a third of the list price, Parker said in an interview.

The people who bought the meat often sold it to other people, said Parker, who said he believes the thefts have been occurring on and off for about a year.

Parker said he believes meat was being stolen from grocery stores about three or four times a week and that about $300 to $400 worth of meat was tolen each time.

Lanham and Tarmon were freed on $7,500 bond each. The charges against them carry a possible punishment of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.

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