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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - A Louisville couple is accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from Home Depot.
According to arrest slips, police received a tip on Feb. 3 that James Briles and Mary Cunningham were planning to steal items from the Home Depot on Breckenridge Lane in St. Matthews. An officer who knew Cunningham and Briles (both known fugitives) waited outside the store and stopped them as they were leaving.
Officers searched Briles and Cunningham and found several pairs of pruning shears that had been shoved down the front of Briles' pants. Police say they also found stolen merchandise in Cunningham's purse.
The combined value of the merchandise found on the couple was estimated at more than $500.
Cunningham and Briles consented to a search of their vehicle, where police discovered more stolen property. The value of the items found in the couple's car was estimated at approximately $600.
According to arrest records, Cunningham and Briles were indicted on Jan. 23 for engaging in organized crime for their alleged involvement in shoplifting items from local Home Depot stores, then returning it for gift cards, which were later sold to area pawn shops.
An arrest warrant states the first known thefts date back to June of 2012, and continued until they were arrested.
The total value of the stolen merchandise was estimated at $45,000.
After stealing the merchandise from Home Depot, police say Cunningham and Briles exchanged it for gift cards. The gift cards were then sold for a fraction of their value to several business, including the ATM Gift Exchange in Clarksville and the Easy Cash Cards/Pawn store and Action Loan in Louisville.
Cunningham already had an active warrant for heroin possession and had violated the conditions of her release by allegedly being involved in drugs and thefts. Cunningham has been banned from all Home Depot stores but continued to return and steal, police say.
On Sept. 9, 2013, Cunningham was allegedly caught stealing from the Home Depot in Clarksville. She was issued a citation and released.
Investigators say the money made from selling the gift cards was used to buy heroin. According to the arrest warrant, Cunningham, Briles, and another unnamed accomplice have sold at least 131 gift cards.
Briles is charged with retail theft and receiving stolen property. Cunningham faces multiple charges including theft, receiving stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, contempt of court, and criminal trespassing.