Mentor police arrest two accused of drug-related shoplifting, fleeing officers

Police arrested a man and woman accused in a drug-related shoplifting spree after they almost ran over an officer and led police on a brief chase.

Matthew McCale, 52, of McDonald is suspected of stealing from at least four stores at Great Lakes Mall. McCale and 50-year-old Debra Kutsch of Girard were taken into custody about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Officers working a retail theft detail noticed a car at Babys R Us that was suspected in connection to other thefts. They followed the driver -- later identified as McCale -- into the store and saw him hide a child monitor under his coat. Police followed him out to his car and tried to stop him.

The man sped off, almost striking an officer with his car, police said.

Officers followed McCale for two miles in their cruiser at a normal speed until he pulled over near Tyler Boulevard and Reynolds Road. While searching the man, police found a box cutter and six boxes of Suboxone -- a controlled substance used to treat opiate addiction.

Police also discovered $560 of stolen merchandise from from Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart and Giant Eagle in Mentor.

Both McCale and Kutsch were charged with possessing dangerous drugs and receiving stolen property. McCale faces additional charges of aggravated robbery, possessing criminal tools, failing to comply and two traffic violations.

Officials say this the type of crime the department is cracking down on using a $25,000 federal grant. Mentor police are working with store security departments, prosecutors and court officials to curb drug-related retail thefts.

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