SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio- Police in South Euclid say when they arrested a Cleveland man on Monday, they ran his name in their computer, and discovered it was the 140th time he has been arrested.
Edward Adkins Jr., 59, was taken into custody after employees at a Foot Locker store identified him as a shoplifter who stole more than $400 worth of merchandise, and police found the items in Adkins’ backpack. Investigators say Adkins is a habitual petty thief, and is known to police departments across Greater Cleveland.
Even though he was caught red-handed on Monday and had outstanding warrants, Adkins did not end up in jail. He told the officers he was ill and needed to go the hospital. South Euclid Police Chief Kevin Nietert told FOX 8 News, "I think part of it is that the system is broken. As a law enforcement agency, we are required to provide medical care, we transport him to the hospital, we medical furlough him, before the officer gets back to the station, I can almost guarantee you that he is walking out of that hospital."
We asked how Edward Adkins has avoided going to prison, and investigators told us that in many of the prior crimes, he made sure that the value of the items he stole did not rise to the level of a felony, and in many of the cases, he used his claims of a medical emergency to get out of jail.
After he was arrested on Monday, Adkins was even willing to confess to the latest shoplifting charge, if it guaranteed him a trip to the emergency room. Chief Nietert says because Adkins knows how the system works, he has no incentive to change his behavior. "I think it's unfortunate because at the end of the day, we're the ones that pay for this -- whether we're paying for it through higher costs in retail or we're paying for it through our taxes because we have to cover the medical aspects of his treatment, or we're just paying for it because we have him sitting in the system,” he said.
Chief Nietert says the big question is: If Adkins has been arrested 140 times, how many times has he gotten away with shoplifting? “Was it ten times that? I mean the numbers are huge,” he said.
Adkins was treated and released from the hospital, and he is once again a free man, just as Chief Nietert predicted.