In the aftermath of the arrest of an alleged serial burglar and auto thief in Paso Robles, a man whose wallet and credit cards were stolen is accusing Walmart of having slowed down the investigation. Paso Robles police say this case was not the first time in which the local Walmart or other corporate stores have refused to provide useful information to investigators. [Tribune]
On Aug. 15, a wallet and a Lincoln MKZ were reported stolen from separate houses in a Paso Robles neighborhood. The stolen wallet belonged to Paso Robles resident Mark Kennedy.
Kennedy’s wallet was stolen from his unlocked car parked in his driveway and later found in nearby bushes. But all of Kennedy’s credit cards had been stolen, and the next day, one of the cards was used to make an online purchase at Walmart, Kennedy said.
Investigators believed whoever stole the credit cards was also responsible for the vehicle theft. However, Walmart refused to disclose information about the purchase to police. Investigators had asked Walmart to provide them the address to which the purchased items were being shipped.
Kennedy called Walmart, and a representative of the store acknowledged the purchase was fraudulent, but said Walmart could not provide him an address unless he gave them the username and password for the online account used to make the purchase, Kennedy said.
Paso Robles Police Commander Steve Lampe said Walmart often does not provide his department with information unless officers have a warrant. Lampe said other larger stores and banks do the same and that the decision is made much higher up than the employees with whom police are communicating.
Nonetheless, on Aug. 24, officers arrested Ricardo Angel Ramirez, 18, of Paso Robles on charges including three counts of felony auto theft and three counts of burglary. Police believe Ramirez is responsible for the stolen credit cards and Lincoln MKZ.
Prior to the arrest, detectives served a warrant at Ramirez’s home and found items linking the teen to two additional auto thefts and multiple burglary or theft cases in Paso Robles, police said. Ramirez currently remains in SLO County Jail with his bail set at $100,000.
Kad Walmart been willing to cooperate, police may have tracked down the suspect sooner, Kennedy said.