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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Accused Walmart shoplifter brandishes knife while stealing sweet tea

Richard Dale Martin
Richard Dale Martin

A Eustis man with a history of theft was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after threatening to stab a Walmart employee over a stolen sweet tea.

Police responded to a theft at the Walmart, 2501 Citrus Boulevard, around 10:25 a.m. Tuesday, according to an arrest report from the Leesburg Police Department. Officers were told the suspect, 38-year-old Richard Dale Martin, was leaving the store.

Martin was located at Murphy USA gas station with a Milos sweet tea in his hand, the report said. He was detained and searched, leading the officers to find a silver knife and a plastic bag containing 0.4 grams of a crystal-like substance that later tested positive for methamphetamine.

Officers then met with a Walmart loss prevention employee, who said Martin had been to the store the previous day. The employee said Martin selected and concealed merchandise before he exited the store past all points of sale without paying. The victim tried to speak to Martin, but he refused and left with $73.42 worth of items, the report said.

The next day, Martin returned and hid a Milos sweet tea in his waistband. Again, he exited the building without paying for the $1.28 drink. The employee approached Martin and asked for the tea to be returned, but Martin took out a silver knife and threatened to stab the victim, the report said.

The victim stepped away from Martin and watched his escape with Walmart’s video surveillance system. The police were then called for assistance, the report said.

Martin was previously trespassed from the store in February, but because officers did not see him on the property he was not charged with trespassing this time. A separate inquiry revealed Martin had two prior convictions for theft in July and October 2022.

Martin was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, retail theft with two or more prior convictions, and possession of methamphetamine. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where bond was set at $25,000.

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