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Published Wed, Feb 06, 2013 11:01 PM
Modified Sat, Feb 09, 2013 05:35 PM

Police capture alleged TV thief

Surveillance video from Walmart shows a man walking out of the store with a television set he did not pay for.
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- jwhitfield@newsobserver.com

CLAYTON -- After he crashed his truck into another vehicle, a man accused of stealing a television from Walmart ran into the woods – still carrying the television – and managed to elude police, search dogs and a highway patrol helicopter equipped with a thermal imaging device designed to “see” people at night.

But on Saturday officers found the man they believe committed the crime.

Working with Cary police and undercover officers, detectives arrested Skyler Tray Mazza, 22, of 4731 Gin Trail, Raleigh.

Clayton police were alerted to the theft of the television from Walmart about 5 p.m. Thursday, according to police Chief Glen Allen. Mazza drove away from the store in a pickup truck later determined to be stolen, crashed into another vehicle in the store driveway, then attempted to drive away.

Allen said the truck was damaged badly enough that Mazza couldn’t drive far, so he abandoned the truck near the Lonestar Restaurant beside a patch of woods and fled on foot.

“We were in an active search for probably about four hours,” Allen said. “We did recover the TV in the woods.”

But they couldn’t find the man who had taken it. Allen described the woods as narrow, but deep, leading into a swampy area and extending all the way to Guy Road.

“There are no houses back there and it’s difficult to access as well,” Allen said.

Wake County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene with search dogs because the town of Clayton’s new dog is still in training.

Officers also called on the highway patrol to aid in the search with their high tech equipment as dusk turned to dark.

Police suspended the active search for the man about 10 p.m. Allen said.

The driver of the other car involved in the wreck in front of Walmart was Monique Louise Taylor of Clayton. She was transported to Johnston Medical Center in Clayton with what Allen described as non-life threatening injuries.

Investigators determined that the truck the man was driving had been reported stolen in Raleigh on Jan. 11. It belonged to David J. Lucas III of Saint Helen, S.C.

Surveillance video from the Walmart shows the man walking out the front door of the store, with the hoodie pulled over his head and a large white box that held a flat screen television.

Mazza is in the Johnston County jail under $135,000 bond. He is charged with felony counts of possession of a stolen vehicle and hit and run. He also faces misdemeanor counts of larceny and resisting arrest. Police also served an outstanding warrant for a probation violation against Mazza.

Allen said he didn’t have any reason to believe the public was in danger while Mazza was on the loose.

“We don’t have any indication that he’s dangerous other than the fact that he committed the hit and run and fled from police,” Allen said.

Whitfield: 919-553-7234

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