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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Leesburg man charged with stealing from pet store twice

Jared OBrien Morris
Jared OBrien Morris

A 34-year-old Leesburg man is accused of shoplifting fish tank equipment from a local pet store twice in three days.

Jared O’Brien Morris, of 1024 Birchwood Court, was arrested Thursday afternoon at the Leesburg Pet Center, 959 N. 14th St. Morris, who has two prior theft convictions and a handful of other arrests, was charged with two counts of retail theft. He’s being held in the Lake County Jail on $1,000 bond.

A Leesburg police officer first responded to the store shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. The manager said she had reviewed security footage after two suspicious males  left the store. She said one of the men concealed an aquarium pump in his shorts and slipped out the door while the other was talking with a clerk at the counter. She said the value of the pump was $205.99, according to the police report.

The video showed the manager interacting with the suspect after he selected the pump from a display. The manager said she asked him if he needed any assistance, which he declined. Shortly after the manager walked away, the suspect could be seen on the video concealing the item in the front of his shorts, the report said.

The officer pulled a still photo from the video and showed it to another officer, who recognized Morris from a prior arrest. The first officer performed a computer search and was able to match the suspect’s photo to Morris’s driver’s license photo. A criminal history search showed Morris was convicted of theft in January 2020 and February 2021, according to the report.

At around 4:20 p.m. Thursday, police were called to the store again. The manager said Morris had entered the store, selected an item and was in the men’s room. Officers immediately detained Morris, not only for the current theft but also for the one two days earlier, the report said.

In describing the second theft, the manager said Morris entered the store and selected an Aquatop Maxflow Wave Maker used for a fish tank. The item is valued at $231.99, The manager said Morris walked to the restroom, took the device out of the box and concealed it on his person. The manager said Morris walked out of the bathroom and could be seen on video taking the item out of his shorts and putting it down in the aisle, presumably because he saw officers enter the store, according to the report.

An officer searched the restroom that Morris had been in. Behind a pile of paper towels was the empty Aquatop Maxflow Wave Maker box. Morris was placed under arrest. While he was being booked at the Leesburg Police Department, Morris made several statements saying he was looking to steal the items so he could sell them and make extra money, the report said.

Morris is scheduled to appear in Lake County Court on June 13.

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