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A Milton man has been charged with felony theft, accused of bolting from the Portage Walmart with a crossbow and cart full of “high-ticket items.”

Chad Lovelace, 32, appeared in Columbia County Circuit Court on Thursday charged with one count of retail theft, carrying a potential sentence of up to 3½ years in prison.

Lovelace was arrested Tuesday night after Portage police received a report of a theft just before 11 p.m. The Walmart store manager told officers that he had seen a man with a red jacket and green hat filling a cart with “high-ticket items” including knives and a crossbow.

After the manager watched the suspect push his cart through the register area without paying, he yelled for the man to stop, with the suspect running, ditching the cart and some of the merchandise, and taking off into the nearby woods.

Shortly after, a Portage officer reported finding Lovelace smoking outside the Best Western Hotel where he said he was staying. When questioned, Lovelace gave a non-existent room number, police said. The department’s K9 unit also tracked footprints through the snow, leading to the area of the hotel, eventually to a nearby shed where clothes and security-wired merchandise was found, including the crossbow and a laptop.

When officers searched Lovelace, they found him carrying a green hat and a piece of paper with “crossbow” written on it.

On Thursday Lovelace was released on a $2,000 signature bond. He was ordered to appear in court for a Feb. 22 return hearing.