Mall security finds shoppers left drugs at food court

Dec. 18--With just a few shopping days left before Christmas, a Robeson County couple did what a lot of people in the region do this time of year -- they went to Cross Creek Mall to shop.

But instead of credit cards and Christmas cheer, lawmen say, the couple brought with them a tote bag full of more than 17 grams of crack cocaine, more than 100 grams of marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash.

Then, like many shoppers burdened with packages and holiday hurry, they accidentally left the bag after lunch in the food court.

Unlike many holiday shoppers, the couple were arrested.

Billie Jo Ransom, 28, of the 300 block of Wellons Road in Pembroke, and Arron Dean Revels, 23, of the 300 block of Ronal Avenue in Lumberton, were arrested earlier this week by narcotics agents with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

"They had been shopping for quite some time, according to mall surveillance footage," said Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. "The tape showed (Ransom) walking around to different stores with the bag in her hand. Then they took a break to eat and left it."

Tanna said the surveillance tape never showed the couple opening the bag or using the money inside to purchase items.

The bag -- which had the owner's name written on the outside -- was retrieved by a mall worker, who took it to mall security officers without opening it, Tanna said.

When security officers got an idea of what they were dealing with, they called the Sheriff's Office, Tanna said.

The two were arrested when they went to claim the bag at the mall security desk.

Tammy Hopkins, spokeswoman for Cross Creek Mall, said people often leave things behind -- but hardly ever anything like this.

"It varies," she said. "Busy moms leave behind baby bottles and sippy cups. Sometimes people leave their coats or their purchases or their keys."

But a duffel bag full of cash, pot and crack? "It's very unusual," Hopkins said.

Ransom and Revels were charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and marijuana.

They were released from the Cumberland County Jail after posting bond.

To see more of The Fayetteville Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.fayettevillenc.com/. Copyright (c) 2008, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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