Man hid in store at closing, pried open display cases, police say

A would be jewel thief apparently hid in Kmart at closing time but the caper was foiled by a motion sensor and now he is in custody on felony burglary charges.

The suspect was caught just before midnight on Feb. 25 and Taft Police said he had jewelry in bags when he was caught.

According to a news release, the jewelry was valued at $11,321 at prices heavily discounted for a going-out-of-business sale, but Lt. Pete Aranda said the retail value of the items could be as high at $60,000 at actual retail prices.

The incident took place after Kmart had been closed.

Police were dispatched to the department store at Highway 119 and Gardner Field Road at 11:55 p.m. for a report of a burglar alarm.
They were met by an employee with a key and they entered and searched the store.

They found the suspect, identified as Randy Eugene Stark, 56, hiding near the jewelry department.

They also found several display cases had been pried open and numerous items had been removed and placed in bags that didn't belong to the store.

Stark was arrested and charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools as well as several warrants.

Stark is scheduled to appear in Kern County Superior Court for a pre-trial hearing.

In the meantime, he is being held without bail in the Kern County Jail on the burglary charges and several warrants, including an out-of-county warrant for auto theft and possession of a stolen vehicle.