Sharp-eyed citizens help nab alleged thief with steaks in shirt

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The stakes were pretty high for a Mississippi man who risked jail time to allegedly cram meat under his shirt in a grocery store.

Monticello Police Chief David Stanley said Vernell Simmons, 58, 1009 George Edward Road, was charged with shoplifting, possession of stolen property, open container in a vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia and no proof of liability insurance.

Vernell was captured with two suspected accomplices Monday about 2:15 p.m. in a traffic stop, Stanley said.

Arrested with Vernell were Stephen Lamar Heisser, 57, of 1407 Topp St. in Jackson and Elshakethia White, 34, of 120 Gillis Circle in McComb.

Heisser’s charges matched Vernell’s except for the traffic violation.

White was charged with shoplifting, possession of stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Stanley said managers at Ramey’s Marketplace noticed a large quantity of meat missing from the coolers Friday and reviewed video surveillance.

Managers posted a video and still photographs of what appears to be the three suspects and their vehicle and asked for the public’s help identifying them.

Someone spotted them Monday and contacted police.

When Vernell’s Toyota was pulled over, officers found merchandise believed to be stolen from several area stores including a recent hit at Ramey’s again.

“They had a fresh pile of steak and shrimp,” Stanley said.

Police recovered steaks with Ramey’s price stickers worth $126 and also $40 worth of Ramey’s frozen shrimp. They found $224 worth of tools from Home Hardware and a large bag of clothes from Dollar General that still had tags attached.

They also found crack pipes in the vehicle, Stanley said.

The three were taken to Lawrence County Jail and White bonded out, he said.