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PORTAGE — Charles Puskac said he thought it strange that the purchase of a large step ladder, garden hose, a couple of heavy duty tie downs, and various hardware and clothing at the local Walmart store rang up to just $7.42, according to police.

The 41-year-old Portage Township man said he intended to speak to the loss prevention officer on the way out of the store but then clammed up when it was pointed out he passed by the officer, who wound up chasing after him, police said.

Puskac was taken into custody Thursday afternoon on a preliminary count of misdemeanor theft, police said.

The loss prevention officer said he watched Puskac cut the price tags off the items in question and replace them with sticker tags taken from the clearance aisle, police said. Puskac then took the items to a self-checkout lane and rang up each using the lower price tags he placed on the items.

The value of the items in question totaled nearly $184, according to police.

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Puskac said he thought the items were on sale, police said. He said each item had multiple prices so he used the lowest price.

Puskac repeatedly offered to go back and pay the full price for the items, police said.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.