BY THE COLUMBUS PACKET
Columbus Police swarmed the area of the Belk department store late Friday afternoon after a shoplifter fled the store with more than $500 in bed linens. Jerry Payne allegedly was inside of Belk with some family friends when he attempted to steal at least one package of bedding from the store. Belk security officers confronted Payne, but he quickly ran directly out of the back door and into the rear parking lot of the shopping center.
Both Belk security and a witness to the crime called E-911 to tell them of the situation. Payne initially ran north after exiting the building, running towards Wilkins-Wise Road and then east towards Highway 45. The bandit allegedly stopped for a breather at the Shell Station before bolting across Highway 45 and through the Premier Ford parking lot.
As Columbus Police closed in on Payne, he dodged behind the used car inventory at the dealership before deftly hopping a nearby fence behind the shopping center that houses Party Market, Rook’s Wine Cellar, and Tech Audio/Video. After meandering his way through some brush along the gravel road that runs North/South parallel to McArthur Drive, Payne was confronted by CPD officers Chris Smith and Roger Tate and immediately surrendered.
While being led to the car, Payne initially denied any involvement in the heist at Belk, but then quickly relented, saying he was there with his “cousin”, but didn’t take anything and couldn’t understand why he was being arrested. The suspect was brought back to Belk, where he was identified by security as the shoplifter.
Payne was charged with Felony shoplifting and is awaiting his day in court. The bed linens were recovered on the Belk property.