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Polk 'Clumsy Beer Thief' suspect arrested

The man the Polk County Sheriff's Office dubbed the "Clumsy Beer Thief" was arrested today, nearly four months after he stole beer from a convenience store but tripped on his baggy pants spilling beer cans in the parking lot, deputies said. Juan Luis Gutierrez, 27, of Lake Wales was arrested at his sister's house in Haines City and charged with one count of petit theft. Just after 6:30 p.m. April 27, Gutierrez walked out of a black Chevy Malibu and into the E-Z Food Store in Lake Wales. Seconds later, he came running out with two cases of 18 Bud Light beers. As he approached the car, he tripped on his baggy jeans, falling face down on the pavement like Pete Rose sliding into third base.
The beer cases slammed onto the ground and cans rolled across the parking lot, the sheriff's office said. Gutierrez got up, got in the car's passenger side and fled the scene. Earlier this month, a deputy heading to another call spotted a Chevy Malibu in Lake Wales. The deputy wrote down the vehicle's tag number and passed it along to detectives investigating the convenience store theft, the sheriff's office said. Detectives met with the car's owner who said she loaned her car to Gutierrez and Angel Miguel Ortiz, 22, of Lake Wales. When they returned empty-handed, Ortiz told her that Gutierrez fell and lost the beers, the sheriff's office said. Ortiz was arrested August 18 and charged with one count of petit theft. After being arrested, Gutierrez admitted to detectives to stealing the beer, running out of the store and tripping and falling, the sheriff's office said.

jpatino@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7659

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