Wanted shoplifter allegedly steals police scanner

Contributed File Photo/Courtesy GCSO: John Paul Contreras, 28, is wanted on two separate warrants for shoplifting and for questioning in several other shoplifting cases.

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

SAFFORD – A serial shoplifter currently wanted on two separate warrants for shoplifting and trespassing charges may have plied his trade in an attempt to avoid police by stealing a police scanner from Walmart.

Police are on the lookout for John Paul Contreras, 28, of Safford, for both his warrants and for questioning on multiple new cases. In addition to the latest incident at Walmart and his two warrants, Contreras is the suspect in four other shoplifting cases from this year.   

According to a Safford Police report, an officer was dispatched at about 4:42 p.m. on Nov. 21 to the store at 755 S. 20th Ave. and was told the suspect, later identified as Contreras, had fled prior to the officer’s arrival. 

Surveillance footage showed a male take a police scanner ($85.10 value) out of the box and then flee from the store when an employee attempted to contact them. The suspect was shown to be a white male, wearing a black beanie with a gray face mask. Even though the suspect was wearing a mask, the officer noted distinctive dark circles under both eyes.

The getaway vehicle’s license plate was also captured on camera and the plate led the officer to a woman in Sunrise Village who said she was Contreras’ girlfriend.

The woman told the officer that she hadn’t seen Contreras in two days because they have been fighting and she didn’t know how to locate him. She said Contreras did have access to and has used the car and that the keys were left inside the vehicle. 

The officer later reported positively identifying the suspect in the Walmart footage to a previous booking photo due to the dark circles under Contreras’ eyes. However, the officer’s efforts to locate Contreras were not fruitful and his whereabouts are currently unknown, according to the report.     

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