TRAVERSE CITY — Two men face criminal charges tied to the theft of a donation jar from a Garfield Township convenience store.
Tate Allen Andrews, 28, of Traverse City, and Blaine Allen Castle, 30, of Rapid City, are accused of stealing a “Meals on Wheels” donation jar from a Barlow Street 7-Eleven during a two-stage theft that began late Feb. 2.
The Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department publicized surveillance footage showing the crime in hopes the public would help identify the suspects. Sheriff’s Capt. Randy Fewless said the gambit paid off and the prosecutor’s office authorized charges.
“We appreciate all the assistance from the public,” he said.
The police report states video footage shows one suspect distracted the store’s clerk while another man stole lottery tickets. It also shows that the man tried to move the donation jar and noticed it was locked down with a cord.
A few hours later, the same man who distracted the clerk returned to the store with a woman, the police report states. Video surveillance showed that a woman talked to the clerk while the man cut the cord around the jar and took it.
Fewless said suspects stole about 10 $20 lottery tickets and an unknown amount of cash from the donation jar. He said two tickets turned out to be winners and one of the suspects redeemed them at a gas station.
“They were $50 winners,” Fewless said.
Deputies received tips that linked Andrews to the crime and he eventually told investigators that he and Castle were in the video, the police report states.
On Feb. 26, Andrews appeared in 86th District Court for arraignment on charge of larceny in a building and second-degree retail fraud. Castle faces a warrant for his arrest on identical charges. Both suspects are charged as habitual offenders.
Andrews also faces heroin possession and maintaining a drug house charges from a Traverse Narcotics Team investigation, according to court records.
Fewless said investigation continues on another convenience store theft that took place Jan. 8.
“It looks like there’s going to be a link between the two of them,” he said.