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Tennessee men accused of stealing iPads from Norton Walmart

Wes Bunch • Mar 6, 2013 at 8:59 AM

GATE CITY — Scott County authorities arrested two Tennessee men last month after a routine traffic stop led to the discovery of $6,000 worth of iPads that were allegedly stolen from a local Walmart.

Michael J. Phillips, 32, of Maryville, and David Haynes, 37, of Knoxville, were arrested by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office on charges of possession of stolen property after a total of nine stolen iPads were allegedly found in the vehicle they were in.

The tablets were taken from the Walmart in Norton, authorities said.

The two men were reportedly traveling south on U.S Route 23 in Weber City when they were pulled over Feb. 15 by an SCSO deputy for having a headlight out.

Authorities reportedly searched the car after one of the men admitted to having a small amount of marijuana and discovered the iPads sitting in the backseat of the vehicle.

According to police reports, the iPads were still in their sealed retail boxes and several even had Walmart price tags on them.

A total of nine iPads — including four 32GB models, which range in price from $599 to $629, and five 64GB models, which retail from $699 to $829 — were allegedly recovered.

The men reportedly told authorities that they had purchased the tablets from an unknown individual from Middlesborough, Ky.

After contacting the Middlesborough Walmart — which had 10 of the tablets stolen in an unrelated theft — authorities said they learned the iPads had been taken from the Norton store.

Authorities said at the time of their arrests, both men were wearing the same clothes as seen on Walmart’s surveillance footage of the thefts.

Scott County investigators said one of the men could be seen on the security footage distracting a Walmart employee while the other broke into the locked area where the iPads are kept before loading them in a buggy and leaving the store.

Following their arrests, both Phillips and Haynes were taken to the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield, where they were released on bond.

Charges against both men are pending in Wise County.

According to media reports, Phillips was also arrested in McMinnville, Tenn., on Feb. 28 for allegedly stealing roughly $10,000 worth of iPads on two separate occasions from a Walmart there.

The McMinnville Southern Standard reported that Phillips allegedly stole seven iPads from McMinnville Walmart on Jan. 17 and nine more on Feb. 8.

He was arrested while allegedly attempting to steal iPads from that location for a third time.

The newspaper reported that security linked Phillips to the previous thefts because he was observed wearing the same clothes and leaving in the same car in all three incidents.

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