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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Man caught stealing motorized shopping cart from Publix

A 35-year-old man was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office after he was accused of stealing a motorized shopping cart from a Publix in Ocala.

On Saturday, September 2, an MCSO deputy responded to the Publix located at 8075 SW Highway 200 in Ocala in reference to a grand theft incident. Upon arrival, the deputy made contact with a manager who advised that an unknown male suspect had stolen an electric motorized shopping cart from the grocery store shortly before 1:05 p.m., according to the arrest report.

The deputy noted in the report that a photograph taken from the store’s security camera footage showed a white male in his 30s with brown facial hair and numerous dark-colored tattoos on his arms, and he was walking with a woman and a dog. The photograph was timestamped at 1:04 p.m., and the man was observed riding the motorized shopping cart.

The male suspect was later identified as Mitchel Andrew Searle.

Mitchel Andrew Searle
Mitchel Andrew Searle, 35, of Hernando

The manager advised that Searle had left the shopping plaza with the cart and was believed to be traveling towards the area of Bravo Supermarket (8585 SW Highway 200), which was located to the southwest of the incident location, according to the report.

Publix estimated that the stolen shopping cart was valued at $850. A store employee provided the deputy with the cart’s serial number.

While driving around the area of the incident location, the deputy observed a woman matching the female who was seen in the photograph with Searle around the time of the theft. She was spotted in a shopping plaza, which was located over 1.5 miles from the incident location, and she was standing between an SUV and a motorized shopping cart that matched the description of the stolen cart, according to the report.

The deputy made contact with the woman, and Searle was observed sitting inside the SUV. Searle exited the vehicle and was detained in the back of the deputy’s patrol car.

During an interview, the woman told the deputy that she had been at Publix with her boyfriend, Searle, and she observed him riding the motorized shopping cart. She admitted that the cart did not belong to them, and she further claimed that she told Searle numerous times to bring the cart back to the grocery store.

The deputy returned to Searle. After being read his Miranda rights, Searle identified himself in the photograph and stated that the motorized shopping cart was “definitely not his.” The report stated that Searle made several statements about returning the cart to the incident location, and he told the deputy, “I can get that cart back up there and never do anything stupid like that again.”

In the report, the deputy noted that the recovered shopping cart’s serial number matched the serial number of the stolen cart.

Searle was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail where he is currently being held on $2,000 bond. He is facing a felony charge for grand theft over $300 but less than $5,000.

A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, October 3, according to jail records.