Former ES office convicted of shoplifting

Thursday, February 28, 2019

By Scott Loftis and Samantha Jones

A former traffic control officer with the Eureka Springs Police Department was found guilty last week of shoplifting and began serving a 10-day sentence in the county jail.

Travis Lynn Whaley, 24, was found guilty on Monday, Feb. 18, in Berryville District Court of a single count of shoplifting, a misdemeanor. A second count of shoplifting was nolle prossed — meaning prosecutors decided not to pursue the charge — and a third count was dismissed.

Whaley was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with 20 days suspended. He will be allowed to serve his sentence on the weekends, beginning last Saturday, Feb. 23, and continuing for five consecutive weekends. He also was ordered to pay $515 in fines and court costs and $350.14 in restitution.

An incident report written by Officer Cody Boren of the Berryville Police Department says Boren was contacted on Nov. 29, 2018, by Nicholas Neil, security manager at the Walmart Supercenter in Berryville.

Neil showed Boren a photograph of a white male wearing a Eureka Springs Police Department jacket and identified the male as Whaley, Boren’s report says.

Neil then provided Boren with video footage from three days — Oct. 8, Oct. 9 and Nov. 13.

The video from Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 showed Whaley “skip-scanning” items in the self-checkout aisle.

“Whaley grabs numerous items, scans one item, and bags all items including the unscanned items,” Boren writes about the Oct. 8 incident. That day, Whaley paid for $129.63 worth of merchandise with a state-issued EBT card, according to Boren’s report, but stole a total of 51 items for a total of $145.60. Boren writes that a female with a newborn was present with Whaley during the incident.

The following day, Whaley again was accompanied by a female carrying a baby, Boren writes. That day, Boren used the same method of skip-scanning, according to Boren’s report. Whaley paid for $119.31 worth of merchandise, Boren writes — $98.23 on a debit card and $21.08 on a state-issued EBT card — and stole 24 items valued at $150.16.

On Nov. 13, Whaley returned to Walmart wearing a Eureka Springs Police Department jacket, according to Boren’s report. Whaley employed the same skip-scanning method but also switched the price tags of some grocery items, Boren writes.

“Example: the video depicts Whaley scanning a large package of steak but the paid receipt with time stamp, shows he scanned chicken,” Boren writes.

Whaley paid for $100.78 worth of merchandise with a state-issued EBT card on Nov. 13 but stole 22 items valued at $54.38, according to Boren’s report.

“Whaley stole a total of 97 proven items for a total of $350.14; these are proven items,” Boren writes. “Neil advised that there were several items that he was unable to prove with 100 percent certainty, so they were omitted from the case and the dollar amount. Whaley is suspected of thefts occurring on other days as well but due to a change in Walmart’s computer server the video for these days is unable to be viewed.”

Boren writes that Whaley agreed to meet with him at the Berryville Police Department, where he was issued a citation for three counts of shoplifting.

Whaley was formally charged on Dec. 4 and arraigned on Jan. 9 in Berryville District Court. He pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

After being found guilty on Feb. 18, Whaley was booked into the Carroll County Detention Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, to serve the first two days of his sentence. He was released on Monday, Feb. 25, according to jail records.

Eureka Springs Police Chief Brian Young said Whaley was fired after Young learned of the charges against him.

“He was never a certified officer,” Young said. “He just worked downtown traffic control. I learned that Berryville had an investigation … and I immediately terminated him based on the evidence.”

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