By Nikki Davis Maute
The contractor hired to clean up and dispose of damaged merchandise from the Victoria's Secret store at Turtle Creek Mall could face criminal charges in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Mark Saddis of East Coast Construction Co. has been charged with two counts of felony theft in Knoxville, Tenn., after stolen Victoria's Secret merchandise was recovered in Knoxville.
Knoxville police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said Saddis, 41, is charged with two counts of felony theft, one count for the alleged theft of Victoria's Secret merchandise and the second for the alleged theft of a playhouse.
Saddis was issued a criminal summons, meaning he must surrender to police before the end of the week but will not be taken into custody, DeBusk said. Police are using this method because of jail overcrowding and because Saddis is not a violent criminal, he said.
"We also do not believe he is a flight risk," DeBusk said.
Hattiesburg Police Capt. Robbie Suber said Hattiesburg's investigation into the Victoria's Secret case is continuing.
"We expect to make some arrests," Suber said. He would not provide details.
The recovered playhouse was part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mississippi fundraiser. It was stolen from the Turtle Creek Mall parking lot in November and recovered in Knoxville. The playhouse should be back in Hattiesburg next week.
About $60,000 of the nearly $400,000 in missing merchandise from Victoria's Secret was first discovered at Campbell Commodities, a salvage store on Talowah Road in Lamar County, said Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel.
Rigel said investigators Richard Cox and Jamie Murray, working on a tip, discovered the trailer load of lingerie in November at Campbell Commodities.
"At that time nothing had been reported stolen," Rigel said.
He said his investigators contacted company security personnel who started their own investigation.
Victoria's Secret officials reported the merchandise loss occurred during a two-month period between the first of October and the end of November when the store was closed from hurricane damage.
Victoria's Secret was one of several mall stores that suffered major water and wind damage. It has since reopened.
Cox said workers hired to remove and destroy damaged merchandise from the store apparently also removed merchandise stored in a back room that was meant to replenish the company's shelves once the store opened.
Victoria's Secret officials could not be reached to comment.
Cox said Victoria's Secret merchandise is always destroyed, never offered for salvage.
"The company knew there was a problem because they not only dispose of their stuff, but they shred it to prevent resale," he said.