In his latest attempt, he tripped over a grill trying to escape store employees, and was transported to the hospital for treatment.
According to an incident report from Kingsport Police, Steve Wayne Lewis, 40, of 1302 Camelia Ave., was arrested Wednesday morning. According to statements from the manager of Kroger, 1664 E. Stone Drive, the store has recently experienced a rash of thefts from people loading their carts with steaks and beer, and then leaving without paying.
But when an employee noticed Lewis stocking his cart with such items on Wednesday, he became suspicious and alerted the store manager. As Lewis approached the exit without paying he was followed by the meat department manager, and the store manager was waiting outside.
The police report says Lewis was told he had been caught in the act. He responded by pushing the cart away from him and running toward another exit — where more store employees were waiting.
While trying to run past the employees, the suspect knocked over a grill and tripped, injuring his knee. EMS was called to the scene and transported him to Indian Path Medical Center.
At the hospital Lewis told a police officer he had shoplifted because he is out of work and was hungry.
The police report says items in his buggy totaled $283.79. They included $62.34 worth of New York strips, $88.54 in ribeyes, seven packs of thick-cut bacon totaling $35.94, $21.66 in salmon fillets and a case of Budweiser.
After his release from the hospital Lewis was transported to Kingsport City Jail. He was also found to have an outstanding warrant from KPD for theft under $500, and a warrant for failure to appear in Sullivan County on theft and trespassing charges.
On June 30, Lewis allegedly attempted a similar theft at the Food City on North Eastman Road. According to store manager Ed Moore, employees in the meat department noticed Lewis loading up on the steaks and thought it was unusual.
After Lewis failed to pay at the register, store personnel followed him outside. They detained him until police arrived and recovered more than $500 worth of steaks.