Thief, fugitive caught during return trip to Walmart

An undated booking photo of Dennis Ray Howard. (Courtesy of the Mason County Sheriff's Office)

An undated booking photo of Dennis Ray Howard. (Courtesy of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office)

HAMLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators say a stolen license plate and a return trip to a Walmart near Ludington led them to a suspected thief and a fugitive.

It all started just before 10:30 a.m. Saturday about 8 miles away from the store, when a Walmart shopper noticed their license plate was missing and called authorities.

A Mason County deputy reviewed surveillance video from the store on West US-10 and N. Meyers Road and identified a pair of suspects. The deputy alerted Walmart employees, who spotted the male and female suspects returning to the store hours later.

A deputy stopped the pair as they were leaving the parking lot. The license plate that was reported stolen was attached to their vehicle.

Deputies say they recovered more than 50 items stolen from Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart, including electronics, power tools, hand tools, fishing equipment, clothing and another vehicle registration stolen out of Ottawa County. Investigators said the stolen items were worth nearly $1,500 altogether.

Authorities arrested the driver. Dennis Ray Howard, a 43-year-old Holland man, is facing charges including larceny and receiving and concealing stolen property.

Authorities say Howard has 19 criminal convictions — 14 being theft related. He is lodged in the Mason County Jail on a $10,000 cash/surety bond.

The female suspect ran from the scene and hasn’t been arrested yet, but deputies say they know who she is.

A 33-year-old Muskegon man who was also riding in the vehicle was arrested on a felony warrant out of Fruitport Township involving the sex offender registry.

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