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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Suspect tracked down in brazen theft attempt at jewelry kiosk at Lake Square Mall

Craig Austin Campbell
Craig Austin Campbell

A suspect has been arrested in a brazen attempt to steal jewelry from a kiosk at Lake Square Mall in Leesburg.

Craig Austin Campbell, 31, of Weirsdale, had been sought by both Leesburg police and Lake County sheriff’s deputies for the burglary of the Gold Center shop at the mall as well as the theft of gold, diamonds and jewelry valued at $7,705 from the Carlton Collection booth at Renninger’s Flea Market in Mount Dora. He is also suspected of stealing a chainsaw from Lowe’s home improvement in Leesburg.

Video from the Gold Center showed Campbell casing the kiosk shortly before 7 p.m. Nov. 26. A security alarm alerted a Lake Square Mall guard that the Gold Center kiosk had been entered. Store security gave the Leesburg officers a description of the burglary suspect who they saw fleeing the mall. The case was turned over to a detective who collected the store’s security video which showed the suspect jumping over the counter and attempting to open a display case before fleeing the mall. The detective issued a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies.

On Dec. 10, the owner of the Carlton Collection booth at the flea market contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office regarding the theft of gold and jewels from his business. A Lake County detective obtained a copy of that store’s security camera which showed the suspect kneeling down behind the display case while stealing items. Another deputy, who had previous encounters with Campbell, was able to identify Campbell in the video thanks to a large baby foot tattoo on his neck.

Law enforcement was able to connect the dots and located Campbell in the Marion County Jail where he had been lodged since Dec. 26 after a foot chase at Mulberry Grove Plaza in The Villages.

Campbell was being held at the Lake County Jail on $9,000 bond on charges of theft, grand theft and burglary. He was transferred Tuesday from the Marion County Jail.

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