CLEARFIELD – An Allport man accused of cutting a hole in a security fence at a Wal-Mart store in an effort to steal merchandise waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday during centralized court.
Kyle V. Couturiaux, 26, is facing a felony retail theft charge and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief as a result of his actions on April 27. He remains in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail each in this case and a second retail theft case.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, police received a report from the Wal-Mart in Sandy Township that a man tried to push a shopping cart out of a hole in the security fence. The suspect had left the cart and fled.
A Wal-Mart employee told police he saw the man in the store around 12:30 a.m. At that time, he was wearing a dark colored sweatshirt and was pushing a cart full of items. This man then put the cart around the area of the service desk and left the store.
He got into an older red Ford truck with a loud exhaust system. About 20 to 40 minutes later the truck was seen in the lot again. The same man was in the store but he had changed into a white sweatshirt, the employee said. This was later confirmed to be the same man who tried to push a cart through the hole in the fence.
The outside security fence had been cut in two vertical lines and then the fence was bungee corded up. Two shopping carts were found in that area. The one that the man was pushing had 24 items in it valued at $564.92. The other cart that was pushed all the way out and was in the access road to the rear of the store had 75 items valued at $1,082.46, according to the police report.
While police were still at the Wal-Mart store, they received a dispatch that a fire hydrant had been hit and was laying the middle of Industrial Drive. The investigating officers found that a vehicle had driven over a curb, through the grass and then hit the hydrant. This was on the same side of the lawn and garden area of Wal-Mart where the man had fled.
It appeared that the vehicle dragged the hydrant over 200 yards across the rear of the store. The hydrant became dislodged in the middle of the road. A bumper light was found near it.
The vehicle that struck the hydrant was now leaking a large amount of anti-freeze, leaving a trail across the parking lot, to Shaffer Road and State Route 255 to Interstate 80.
Officers followed this but were unable to find the vehicle, they said.
At 6 a.m. police received a call from state police that a disabled vehicle fitting the description of the truck was found on Interstate 80. It had severe damage to the front bumper and the radiator area. It had a bumper light identical to the one found earlier by the police. The truck was registered to Couturiaux.
After an officer reviewed surveillance footage, he was able to identify the suspect as Couturiaux because he had prior contact with him. Local authorities were contacted and arrangements were made for Couturiaux to meet with the investigating officer in the Morris-Cooper police station.
During his interview, Couturiaux told police he was in DuBois to meet someone for a date but she stood him up. He explained that when he was returning home the fan belt slipped off his truck, it became overheated and then disabled. He continued to talk about the truck while avoiding eye contact with the officer.
When the officer asked if he remembered him from two years ago, Couturiaux said he didn’t. The officer then told him he knew what happened and he needed to tell the truth.
Couturiaux then allegedly admitted he was in the DuBois Wal-Mart where he had loaded up a shopping cart. He said he got scared and left the cart in the store. He got into his truck, left the parking lot, changed his hat and put on a white sweatshirt before returning.
This time he allegedly loaded up two carts and took them to the garden center where he left them. He exited the store from the front entrance and drove his truck around the back and parked, he told police.
He walked to the outside of the garden center and cut the security fence with wire cutters. He was able to get one cart out of the fence and when he was pushing out the other cart, he saw an employee and fled. He said he did drive over the curb but thought he hit a traffic sign. He was unaware he hit a hydrant, he said.