Penn. Home Depot's LP Officers Break Price Scam

An unemployed Felton couple apparently didn't know they were being watched when they allegedly bought a $285 fence for about $10 during a shopping excursion last week.

But Home Depot loss-prevention officers are a stealthy crew who contacted police the afternoon of Nov. 9 before the couple left the store's parking lot in the 6000 block of Carlisle Pike in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.

David Alan Lutz, 43, of the 12000 block of Crossroads Avenue, was on his way out to his vehicle with the fence in tow when Hampden Township police stopped him. His girlfriend, Karen Yvonne Travers, 32, of the same address, is accused of switching the price on a $450 welder, but found it too heavy to hoist, removed the fake price sticker and left the store, said Hampden police Detective Glenn Adams Jr.

"Our investigation indicates that they've done this to other stores and they've been doing this for a little bit of time," Adams said about the couple. "We haven't had time to evaluate all of the evidence, but more charges are pending."

Both are charged with retail theft, criminal conspiracy and possessing instruments of crime. District Judge Thomas A. Placey set bail for Travers and Lutz at $75,000. Lutz remains in Cumberland County Prison; Travers was released Friday, according to prison records.

Probe continues: Adams said the investigation continues as to when and where the alleged price-switching scam may have occurred. Police executed a search warrant of the couple's vehicle and home. In the vehicle, they said, they found additional adhesive bar code stickers, cuttings and scissors. The vehicle was impounded.

As for other evidence, Adams was tightlipped, saying the investigation is ongoing. He did say investigators recovered receipts for items dated back to late summer.

"We don't know how long this has been going on," Adams said. "There is evidence that some items were being sold. There will be a lot of follow-up with this."

He said this couple is among four "groups" that have been arrested in recent months and years in price-switching scams.

"Most store security teams are aware of this type of thing and are diligent in attempting to stop it before it gets too far along," he said. "I think this was a way of life for them (Lutz and Travers)."