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Teen, disabled dad were shoplifting team, police say

A teenager pushed his disabled father in a wheelchair through the aisles of Scotty's, Kmart and Wal-Mart on Thursday evening.

They spent less than $1, but obtained more than $200 in merchandise, authorities say.

The wheelchair, police say, was a vehicle for shoplifting.

Charles T. Mursch, 18, and his father, Michael R. Mursch, 43, teamed up to take merchandise and stuff it down the back of the wheelchair and in the father's clothes, according to Sheriff's Office arrest reports.

Among other items, officials believe the pair stole metal screws from a Scotty's hardware, an Ace Ventura videotape from a Kmart and a Chicago White Sox T-shirt from a Wal-Mart.

Charles and Robert Mursch, both of 4132 Ernest Drive in Zephyrhills, were arrested about 9 p.m. Thursday outside Wal-Mart and each charged with retail theft. They were both released on $500 bail.

Here is how the scam worked, according to sheriff's reports:

The son pushed his father around Wal-Mart in a wheelchair and handed him compact discs, magazines, T-shirts, sweat pants and other items.

The older Mursch stuffed the merchandise down his shirt and behind his back, officials said, and the two left the store without paying.

Deputies believe the Mursches had already hit a Kmart in Lutz and a Scotty's hardware in Zephyrhills that same evening, though they weren't immediately charged in those cases.

A Wal-Mart employee who saw the pair leave the store on State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes called police.

Charles Mursch inadvertently led deputies to more property when he asked a deputy to lock his 1980 Chevrolet Malibu, which was parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

The deputy opened the door and found bags of merchandise from K-Mart and Scotty's.

A receipt from Scotty's showed one item had been purchased for 93 cents that day. No other receipts were found, and the Mursches had no explanation for where they got the merchandise.

Among the items believed stolen from Scotty's were four packages of metal screws, assorted rubber washers, an electric outlet strip and an air vent for a mobile home.

The Kmart merchandise found in the car included a $15 Chicago Bulls wristwatch, a tube of bonding adhesive, a tube of Super Glue and a carton of Doral cigarettes.

At Wal-Mart, the Mursches are accused of stealing four hot rod magazines, a television remote control, a clip-on air freshener, a videotape of Jim Carey's Ace Ventura _ When Nature Calls and a Smashing Pumpkins compact disc.