Police: Thief becomes a victim

A suspect in a music store shoplifting case became a victim after an employee of a fast-food restaurant where he was arrested allegedly stole a bag of goods that he had purchased, according to police.

Michael D. Copley, 25, of 108 Sixth Ave. waived misdemeanor theft-related charges to court on Thursday. The charges were filed by Allegheny Township police after Copley allegedly tried to return $84.10 worth of merchandise to the Music Emporium.

Police said the items actually belonged to Brady D. Whitfield, 20, of 915 South St., who had bought guitar strings and other items on Feb. 18.

On that day, Whitfield and two other men, Andrew M. White, 20, and Tyler J. Gehret, 18, both of Altoona, were suspected of stealing when employees noticed a $249 ukulele was missing after the three left the store. Armed with a description of their vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria with a piece of plastic covering the driver’s side window, police responded to Plank Road Commons, where the store is located.

The Crown Victoria was parked in the fire lane in front of Walmart, police noted, and White was behind the wheel and appeared impaired, with the smell of marijuana coming from the car. Although White denied he was at the music store, a ukulele was sitting on the rear seat, police said. White, who allegedly turned over a burnt pot cigar, told police Whitfield and Gehret had taken the instrument.

Whitfield and Gehret were found by officers inside Walmart and taken into custody, but according to police, Whitfield left behind a bag containing guitar strings and other items he purchased at the music store.

Police noted the bag could not be found later at the store, but the next day, Copley attempted to return the items, complete with receipt, to the Music Emporium. Store employees, aware that the bag of items was missing and reported stolen, called police.

Police said Copley initially said he was returning the items for a nameless older man who offered him $50 to return the goods but ultimately admitted to taking the bag from the break room at the McDonald’s in Walmart, where it had been left.

White was charged with driving under the influence and drug charges while Gehret faces a retail theft charge as well as a possession of a small amount of marijuana count stemming from a bag of pot allegedly found in his pocket.

Whitfield allegedly had various drug-related items in a backpack left in the car, and he faces felony and misdemeanor drug charges.

All three waived their cases to Blair County Court, records show.

Apart from the ukulele, a guitar strap, a ’70s song book and play-along CD were allegedly stolen from the music store, police said.