LPD: Crime Stoppers tip leads to arrest of alleged big-screen TV thief

Christopher Griffin (Source: Angelina County jail)
Christopher Griffin (Source: Angelina County jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin Crime Stoppers tip led to the arrest of the Nacogdoches man who allegedly loaded a 46-inch television into a buggy at Walmart and walked right out the front door with it without paying for it on Dec. 17, 2012.

Further investigation by Lufkin Police Department detectives revealed that the suspect was also allegedly responsible for stealing four flashlights at the Academy Sports & Outdoors store located at 2912 Brentwood.

Christopher Paul Griffin, 31, is still being held in the Angelina County Jail on theft between $50 and $500 charges after being arrested Thursday. Each charge is a Class B misdemeanor. Collectively, his bond has been set at $3,000.

According to the arrest affidavit, officers from the LPD responded to a theft call at the Walmart store located at 2500 Daniel McCall Drive. A store loss prevention officer told the officers that a white male had stolen a 46-inch TV. A witness told Walmart employees that the white quickly left the store with the TV in a buggy and loaded it into a vehicle.

The loss prevention officer provided a security video that showed a white male in a gray shirt and dark pants walk back to the store's electronics section, where he browsed for a while before he selected a 46-inch TV and walked out the front door without paying for it, the affidavit stated.

Although the surveillance cameras did not pick up the vehicle, the witness said the suspect got into a silver SUV that was possibly a 4Runner. The witness also provided two possible license plate numbers, and LPD detectives traced one of the license plate numbers to a SUV own by a Lufkin resident that matched the witness's description.

On Feb. 25, the Lufkin Police Department received a phone call from a male caller that said he had recognized the suspect from the Crime Stoppers video that ran on KTRE News. The man said that he had originally called Crime Stoppers, but he had been put on hold.

The caller told the LPD officer that he had rented a house to the suspect years ago and said that the man from the surveillance video was Griffin. In addition, the caller said Griffin was probably living in Lufkin and driving an older white Cadillac Escalade.

LPD detectives compared the video to Griffin's driver's license photo and decided that he was indeed the suspected TV thief.

The arrest warrant for the second theft charge stated that LPD officers responded to a theft call at Academy Sports & Outdoors on Jan. 4. The store manager told the officers that a white man, later identified as Griffin, came into the store and allegedly took four flashlights valued at $114.96 without paying for them. Griffin gave the cashier his driver's license, and the individual made a copy of it.

The store manager said Griffin left the store and got into a red Chevrolet four-dour "dually" pickup with a large chrome box in the bed of the truck. After the truck made a circle in Academy's parking lot, Griffin returned to the store and tried to return the stolen merchandise.

When the store manager confronted Griffin about the alleged theft, Griffin allegedly fled the store on foot, got into the red pickup, and left the Academy parking lot, the affidavit stated.

"[The store manager] advised that the same truck has been involved in several thefts at Academy," the affidavit stated.

LPD detectives reviewed security camera footage from the Academy store and confirmed that the suspect who allegedly took the flashlights was Griffin.

According to Detective J.B. Smith, a spokesman for the Lufkin Police Department, an officer spotted Griffin walking down First Street and took him into custody after he realized that Griffin had two outstanding theft warrants.

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