On Wednesday, Aug. 15, a wallet and a Lincoln MKZ were stolen from separate houses in the same Paso Robles neighborhood. And according to the man who lost his wallet, Walmart slowed down the investigation.
“How can you call yourself a good corporate community partner if you can’t help solve this crime?” Mark Kennedy said in response to Walmart refusing to provide the police with information for the investigation.
Kennedy reported to the Paso Robles Police Department that his wallet was stolen from his unlocked car parked in his driveway on Aug. 15. His wallet was later found in the nearby bushes, but all of Kennedy’s credit cards had been stolen.
The following day, one of the stolen cards was used to make an online purchase at Walmart, Kennedy said.
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Police believed whoever stole the credit card was also responsible for stealing Kennedy’s neighbor’s car.
When Kennedy told the police his card had been used to make a fraudulent purchase, they asked Walmart for the address where the goods were to be shipped — but Walmart declined to share the information.
Kennedy said he then gave it a go and called Walmart to explain the situation.
Although the retailer acknowledged that the purchase was fraudulent, Kennedy said, the store said it could not provide him with an address unless he gave them the user name and password on the online account, which Kennedy said he, of course, did not know.
Walmart did not return request for comment for this story.
This is not the first time a corporate store such as Walmart has denied police information, Paso Robles Police Commander Steve Lampe said.
“It’s a challenge. They often won’t provide us information without a warrant, but that’s not always the case,” Lampe said.
“It’s not just Walmart, bigger stores and banks, too,” Lampe said. “The decision is made much higher up than the employees we are dealing with.”
Lampe said in some instances, the company would rather work directly with the victim than the police.
In this case, police were eventually able to identify a suspect, and a man believed to have stolen the car and the credit cards was apprehended.
On Aug. 24, Ricardo Angel Ramirez, 18, of Paso Robles was arrested on suspicion of multiple charges, including three counts of felony auto theft and three counts of felony burglary. He was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail and remains in custody on $100,000 bail.
Before the arrest, detectives served a search warrant at Ramirez’s residence and located “items of evidence” that linked the man to two additional auto thefts and multiple burglary/theft cases in Paso Robles, police said.
Kennedy said had Walmart been willing to cooperate, the suspect may have been found sooner.
Tribune staff writer Lucas Clark contributed to this report.