April 5th was a routine day for Michelle Fields of Smithfield. Fields had a few errands to run including stopping by the Wal-Mart on N. Brightleaf Boulevard that evening to pick up a few items for her home.
While shopping inside the store someone stole her pocketbook from the shopping cart. It contained her cell phone, car and house keys, credit cards and identification cards.
Fields immediately reported the theft to Smithfield Police.
Within minutes, Officer C.E. Van Halen arrived on the scene and had Wal-Mart security personnel review video surveillance camera footage and provide photos to police of the shoplifting suspect, who was immediately identified due to prior run-ins with Wal-Mart security.
Officer Van Halen had Wal-Mart security train their cameras on Field’s car just in case the suspect returned to try and steal her vehicle.
Van Halen and Sgt. D.R. Johnson found an address for the suspect in the Selma city limits and met with Selma Police before going to the suspects home.
With the assistance of Lt. B.K. O’Branovich the suspect was located at his home and admitted to taking cash out of the stolen pocketbook then tossing it alongside Firetower Road outside of Selma.
Police took the suspect to Firetower Road so he could show them where he discarded the pocketbook. The pocketbook was recovered and all the contents including her iPhone, credit cards and keys – minus some cash – was recovered.
Instead of simply taking a theft report and going to the next call, Fields said the three officers went above and beyond the call of duty to help her. While it may have been a routine theft call to police, Fields said it would have cost her $2,000 to replace her iPhone, get new car keys made, and re-key the locks to her home had her pocketbook not been recovered.
Fields stopped by WTSB to tell us her story on April 9th. On Friday, April 13th when the three officers were on duty, Fields paid a surprise visit to them at the Smithfield police station to take them a gift basket and to thank them for their efforts. She was also carrying her pink pocketbook the same officers helped recover.