A Buford man narrowly avoided a trip to jail after his alleged victim refused to press charges.
On March 14, a 22-year-old Auburn man called Gwinnett County Police after losing his wallet. The Auburn man said he had retraced his steps after realizing the wallet was missing and determined he had lost it at the Texaco located at 4362 Braselton Highway in Hoschton (near Mill Creek High School).
The clerk at the Texaco reviewed surveillance footage which showed the Auburn man leaving the store. As the Auburn man walked out the door, he attempted to place his wallet in his rear pocket but missed. The wallet fell to the floor and the Auburn man exited the store without realizing he had dropped it.
Approximately five minutes later, the Buford man walked into the store and spotted the wallet. Video surveillance showed the man place the wallet in his pocket. The Buford man purchased two packs of cigarettes and left without mentioning the wallet to the clerk.
The clerk, who recognized the Buford man, said he would notify police if the man returned to the store. Later that afternoon, he did.
The clerk asked the Buford man about the wallet and the man reportedly denied knowing anything about it. The clerk asked the Buford man to wait at the store until police arrived.
When the officer arrived, the Buford man walked to the patrol car and said he didn't know anything about the Auburn man's missing wallet. The Buford man claimed he had dropped his own wallet inside the store and had picked it up. The video, the officer noted, clearly showed otherwise.
"I pointed out the cameras on the side and front of the building and asked him again about the wallet, explaining to him this time that I had already viewed the footage and saw him pick up the wallet," the officer noted in the report.
The Buford man then admitted he had picked up the Auburn man's wallet and claimed to have placed it on a cabinet outside the store so that whoever lost it could find it easily.
"I again told him that I watched the video footage and to please be honest with me," the officer wrote.
The Buford man insisted he did not have the wallet. The officer continued to question him. Eventually the Buford man led the officer to the side of the store and retrieved the wallet from behind a propane tank storage case.
"As he handed it to me he said, 'I was going to bring it back, I was going to take it to the bank since I saw the bank card in it.' I looked inside the wallet and it still contained $200 in cash as well as the victim's ID cards and banking cards," the officer wrote.
While the Buford man waited with other officers, the officer went back inside the Texaco to review the surveillance footage of the man's second trip to the store. After the clerk asked the man about the wallet, the Buford man returned to his truck. After several moments, the man is seen throwing an object away from the truck into a grassy area near the store.
A short time later, the Buford man is seen on video walking to the grassy area and then out of camera view before returning to the front of the store to wait for police.
The officer determined the Buford man had tossed the wallet into the grassy area and then "not being happy with its hiding place" retrieved the wallet and placed it behind the propane storage case.
"[The Buford man] had many opportunities to be truthful with me, but continued to lie about the situation further discrediting the value [of] his word," the officer noted. "He only told the truth after being directly confronted about his lies."
The officer placed the Buford man under arrest for theft of lost or mislaid property. Once the Auburn man arrived at the scene to retrieve his wallet, the officer explained what had transpired. According to the police report, the Auburn man said he did not want the man to go to jail. Though the Auburn man agreed the Buford man had committed a crime, he said he felt the man had "learned his lesson" after being arrested.
Since the Auburn man did not wish to prosecute, the Buford man was released from custody and the case closed.
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Northern Gwinnett County news including the cities of Dacula, Ga. and Buford, Ga.