PCSO: 'Habitual thief' arrested at San Tan Valley Wal-Mart

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Michael Lopez By Jennifer Thomas Michael Lopez By Jennifer Thomas

SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. – A 41-year-old Superior, Ariz., man described as a "habitual thief" was arrested after allegedly stealing from a San Tan Valley Wal-Mart, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

A Wal-Mart asset protection agent contacted the sheriff's office on April 25 after she saw Michael Lopez drive his white pickup truck into the store's parking lot and recognized him from previous thefts.

Lopez then went into Wal-Mart where he filled a shopping cart with more than $700 worth of merchandise and left without paying, according to Sgt. Pat Ramirez.

A deputy arrived and saw Lopez pushing the cart through the parking lot. Ramirez said Lopez saw the deputy and pushed the cart toward his patrol vehicle then began to quickly walk away. The deputy chased Lopez on foot and took him into custody without incident.

Lopez was booked into the Pinal County Jail in Florence for six counts of burglary and six counts of organized retail theft.

Further charges of burglary, shoplifting and trespassing have been filed with the Pinal County Attorney's Office for an April 22 incident. In that theft, more than $550 of merchandise was stolen from Wal-Mart and never recovered.

Lopez reportedly is a suspect in 14 previous thefts from local area Wal-Mart stores, including in the cities of Mesa and Apache Junction.

Lopez previously has been incarcerated in the Arizona Department of Corrections for theft and shoplifting crimes in Pinal, Gila and Maricopa counties.

"After this arrest, he will be headed back to prison to serve even more time," Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "Wal-Mart staff and our deputies worked together to end his crime spree and put him back behind bars."