Anonymous tip following Facebook post leads to arrest in Wal-Mart cooking set caper

James Edward Begley

An Ocala man was jailed Thursday after a Marion County sheriff’s deputy received an anonymous tip that he was involved in a theft at an Ocala Wal-Mart in July.

An asset protection employee told a deputy on July 17 that she saw two men place a cooking set in their cart and then attempt to push it out the front door. But they suddenly changed direction and headed for the garden department exit after bypassing the cash registers with the unpaid merchandise, a police report says.

The employee said she confronted both men and told them why they were being stopped. She said they left the cart behind, ran out the garden center doors and climbed into a black four-door vehicle, the report says, adding that the men attempted to steal a pool filter valued at $174 and the cooking set worth $99.

This photo was posted on Facebook on the same day that a Marion County sheriff’s deputy received a tip claiming that James Edward Begley was one of the bandits who took a cooking set from an Ocala Wal-Mart.

On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office posted a photo of the two suspects on its Facebook page and sought the public’s help in catching the bandits. That same day a deputy received an anonymous tip about Begley being one of the suspects. And the following day the Wal-Mart asset protection employee picked Begley out of a photo lineup consisting of six photos, the report says.

Begley told deputies that he didn’t believe had had committed a crime because he wasn’t able to leave the store with the merchandise. He was then taken into custody and transported to the Marion County Jail, where he was charged with larceny/petit theft.
Begley, who lives at 2151 NE 59th St. in Ocala, was being held on $2,000 bond. He’s due in court on Oct. 10 at 8 a.m. to answer to the charge.

A background check showed that Begley is no stranger to the Marion County legal system, having been convicted of two counts of grand theft in March 2001.