Man who stole Walmart food, sparking canal chase, sentenced to prison

A Cape Coral man was charged after authorities said he left a Walmart store last month eating chicken from a tray, leading officers on foot in pursuit and swimming through canals.

Lee County Judge Joseph Gagliardi found Tyreak Shaquier Thornton, 28, guilty Monday and sentenced him to 40 days in jail with credit for 29 days served.

He pleaded no contest Monday to petit larceny charges; to resist without violence; and resisting the trader’s efforts.

On February 5 around 3 p.m., Cape Coral Police responded to the 900 block of Southwest 36th Terrace in reference to a shoplifting incident. Thornton fled on foot.

Police said the Walmart Neighborhood Market loss prevention officer said Thornton was taking items from the store without paying.

Employees said they saw Thornton take hot food and leave the store through the deli exit, passing all the outlets without attempting to pay. Employees tried to stop Thornton, but he ignored them and went to a bush in the parking lot where authorities said he hid other items he had taken.

Officers initially contacted Thornton as he fled the store and said Thornton was eating chicken from a tray. Thornton reportedly saw officers and took off running, initiating a foot chase.

Officers said Thornton jumped into a canal and swam north, later trying to exit the canal.

Thornton began walking through backyards behind nearby homes and started running again when he saw officers approaching, authorities said.

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Officers chased Thornton through a backyard and over a fence before heading back onto the street. Authorities said Thornton later surrendered.

Authorities said the edibles Thornton took totaled $98.38.

Police said last month they discovered Thornton had an arrest warrant out of Lee County for felony failure to appear for burglary of a conveyance and petit larceny.

Tomas Rodriguez is a Breaking/Live News Reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. You can reach Tomas at or 772-333-5501. Contact him on Threads @tomasfrobeltran, Instagram @tomasfrobeltran and Facebook @tomasrodrigueznews.

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