THOMASVILLE -- Security personnel at Lowe's have observed strange happenings at the U.S. 19 South store during the last six months.

On Wednesday afternoon, things began to come together.

Security employees have found cut chain-link fence in the garden area. They have seen someone with a filled shopping cart leave the store empty-handed later.

A little after 1 p.m. Wednesday, a man filled a shopping cart with assorted tools valued at more than $1,200, said Troy Rich, commander of the Thomasville Police Department Criminal Investigations Division.

The man pushed the cart to the garden center and hid the tools behind other merchandise near the fenceline.

Security personnel were watching when the man, Charley Paul Rawls, 40, 1886 Laurette Drive, Apartment A, Tallahassee, Fla., left the store with no purchases, said TPD Detective Toby Knifer. They also saw him hide the tools, the detective added.

Rawls cut the fence before shopping, Rich said.

Police were notified as the crime was taking place. Officers arrested Rawls as he left the business.

The suspect is charged with felony shoplifting, criminal attempt to commit burglary and criminal damage to property in the second degree.

Rawls remained in the Thomas County Jail Thursday night in lieu of a $12,100 bond.

"He would conceal the property there, and then he'd try to leave the store as though nothing happened," Rich explained. "This time, they (security personnel) were aware this was happening. This time, they were much more alert."

Police are actively investigating other incidents to determine if Rawls is involved.

Rich said detectives hope store surveillance tape will provide the answers they need to bring more charges against Rawls.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 220

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