ASHTABULA, Ohio (WJW) — Surveillance cameras were recording on Tuesday when an offender used a trip to an Ace Hardware store in Ohio to ditch his electronic tether.
Authorities use ankle bracelets as one way to track the movements of lawbreakers, and on occasion, suspects try to remove the GPS devices.
Security video shows the man wandering around the Ashtabula store before he was approached by an employee. He told her that he was looking for hedge clippers. After being shown the tool, the man walked just out of sight of a surveillance camera.
A short time later, he placed a small black item on a store shelf in Aisle 1. He then grabbed a free bag of popcorn, walked out the door, and was last seen grabbing a backpack and riding away on a bicycle.
Fifteen minutes later, employees found an ankle bracelet stashed on the shelf and realized the man had used the hedge clippers to cut off the GPS monitor.
“Maybe he thought that it was an out-of-the-way spot, that he’d just come in and we have hedge clippers,” store manager Cheryl Haytcher told Nexstar’s WJW. “The other stores in the plaza do not have them, and we were ‘the helpful hardware folks’ with the hedge clippers, yes we were.”
When the employees called Ashtabula police, they were told it was not a police matter. That’s when they decided to call the number listed on the ankle bracelet, which connected them with the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.
Later that day, two parole officers came to the store, picked up the monitor, and thanked the employees.
“I think it’s important because for some reason the state of Ohio separated him from the population for something that he did. I do not know what it was, and they allowed him to go home with an ankle monitor as part of his release, and he did not follow the rules, so, therefore, I believe it’s a public service that he should have been turned in,” said Haytcher.
In fact, Haytcher and her employees say they were being “the helpful hardware folks” by reporting the man.
“So that he can hopefully turn his life around and do the right thing. There’s plenty of places in town that will help people that need help,” she said.
WJW was waiting to hear from state authorities on the identity of the suspect, the charges that he was facing, and his current status.