Fishing lure theft was an inside job - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fishing lure theft was an inside job

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Call it a new version of the old bait and switch. Two south Georgians are charged with stealing thousands of dollars worth of fishing lures and selling them to stores.

They say the suspects stole the fishing equipment from the manufacturer, then sold it to unsuspecting shop owners around south Georgia.

They say retailers who bought the stolen goods need to fess up and turn it in.

D and J Plastics in Georgetown spotted some of their exclusive fishing lures and equipment for sale in two Dougherty County bait stores where they should not be, and that tipped them off that an employee was stealing large amounts of their products.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators found these stolen fishing lures and hooks and other equipment for sale at a couple of fish and bait stores, and trailed it back to 34-year-old Lisa Merritt of Albany and 30-year-old Timothy Littlefield of Georgetown.

Investigators arrested Littlefield in Lee County last Friday with a truck load of the stolen goods, and know that is only a small portion of the stolen property.

 "This is actually a large quantity of fishing lures. $13,000 worth of fishing lures would fill about fill about half this room,"  said Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigator Captain Craig Dodd. 

Quitman County Sheriff Steve Newton said that Merritt was an employee at D and J Plastics in Georgetown, and was taking the fishing equipment, and then she and Littlefield were selling it to unsuspecting stores.

 "Sometime businessmen will buy it, thinking they are getting a good deal. We aren't saying anybody did anything shady," Dodd said.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators say almost $9,000 worth of fishing lures, hooks, and equipment are still missing, and they suspect much of it ended up at other stores, and they are calling on the retailers to turn it in.

The stores will be reimbursed the money they paid for the goods. If the retailers don't return the fishing equipment they bought from Merritt and Littlefield, they could face charges themselves for selling stolen goods.

"If they don't contact us and we find out they have it. And it was on the news about it, then they could face charges. If they contact us, we're more than happy to try to get their money back," Dodd said.

Merritt and Littlefield are in the Dougherty County jail, charged with two counts of theft by deception and two counts of theft by receiving, and are being held for Quitman County authorities. 

If you purchased fishing lures or equipment from Merritt or Littlefield, you should contact the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office at 229-431-3222.

Quitman County Sheriff Steve Newton says D and J Plastics has tightened security to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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