Leesburg man charged with stealing from pet store twice

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Jared OBrien Morris

A 34-year-old Leesburg man is accused of shoplifting aquarium equipment from a local pet store twice in three days.

Jared O’Brien Morris, of 1024 Birchwood Court, was arrested Thursday afternoon at the Leesburg Pet Center, 959 N. 14th St. Morris, who has previous convictions for theft and a few other arrests, has been charged with two counts of retail theft. . He is being held in Lake County Jail on $1,000 bond.

A Leesburg police officer first responded to the store shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. The manager said she viewed security footage after two suspicious men left the store. She said one of the men hid an aquarium pump in his shorts and slipped out the door while the other spoke with a counter worker. She said the value of the pump was $205.99, according to the police report.

The video showed the official interacting with the suspect after selecting the pump on a screen. The manager said she asked him if he needed help, which he refused. Shortly after the official left, the suspect could be seen on video hiding the object in front of his shorts, according to the report.

The officer extracted a photo from the video and showed it to another officer, who recognized Morris from an earlier arrest. The first officer performed a computer search and was able to match the suspect’s photo to Morris’ driver’s license photo. A criminal history search showed Morris was convicted of theft in January 2020 and February 2021, the report said.

At around 4:20 p.m. Thursday, police were again called to the store. The manager said Morris entered the store, selected an item and was in the men’s room. Officers immediately arrested Morris, not only for the current robbery but also for the one two days earlier, according to the report.

In describing the second theft, the manager said Morris walked into the store and selected an Aquatop Maxflow Wave Maker used for an aquarium. The item is valued at $231.99. The manager said Morris went to the bathroom, took the device out of the box and hid it on him. The manager said Morris came out of the bathroom and could be seen on video pulling the item out of his shorts and putting it in the aisle, likely because he saw officers enter the store, according to the report.

An officer searched the restroom Morris had been in. Behind a stack of paper towels was the empty Aquatop Maxflow Wave Maker box. Morris was placed under arrest. While booked with the Leesburg Police Department, Morris made multiple statements saying he was looking to steal the items so he could sell them and make extra money, according to the report.

Morris is due in Lake County Court on June 13.

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