Retail theft suspect in court, ordered to stay away from stores

Enrique Soto Jr. was wanted for stealing merchandise valued over $500 from several Green Bay-area stores since 2021
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:33 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:20 PM CST
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BELLEVUE, Wis. (WBAY) - A man accused of numerous valuable shoplifting thefts since 2021 appeared in Brown County court on Wednesday.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday morning they had Enrique Soto Jr. in custody. The 42-year-old was charged with retail theft in July and September this year and has several open theft cases from 2021, mostly involving the theft of goods between $500 and $5,000.

Soto’s defense attorney tried to defend his client’s character in court, but the judge said enough is enough.

“Mr. Soto has kept in constant contact with me,” attorney Charlie Glynn said. “He also has been holding down very, very well-paying jobs in the community. He is a hard worker. He is supporting his family.”

Judge Paul Burke ruled, “Risk, as far as bail is concerned, it looks like we’ve tried a lot of non-monetary things with Mr. Soto,” such as signature bonds.

The judge set a cash bond of a little more than $9,000. As conditions if he makes bail, he can’t have contact with any of the stores he’s accused of stealing from and he must maintain absolute sobriety.

Soto will be back in court December 16.

Action 2 News read through four criminal complaints against Soto, where he is accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of tools from stores in the Green Bay area: east- and west-side Home Depot and Fleet Farm stores and the east-side Menards. He’s also accused of thefts of liquor and food from the west-side Walmart and Woodman’s in Howard.

Almost $2,200 worth of merchandise were taken in three separate thefts from the east-side Fleet Farm over a one-week period in March of 2021. Complaints say Soto would go into a store, sometimes carrying a bag with him, and use a knife to remove the security devices from tools and battery packs and leave. He seemed to focus on DeWalt products. On March 23, a Fleet Farm loss prevention specialist approached a man suspected in a number of high-dollar retail thefts and he took off running to a Volkswagen Jetta with tape over part of its license plate. During another incident, the loss prevention specialist said they didn’t approach him because they were concerned Soto might have a weapon. A loss prevention officer was shown a mug shot of a man who matched the shoplifter’s description but dismissed that person as a suspect because they didn’t have the shoplifter’s neck tattoo.

In May 2021, officers responded to a retail theft at Home Depot on S. Taylor St. A shoplifter tried to take 5 tools from the store. When the loss prevention officer approached him, the man shoved the officer and fled in a silver car. This time they had a license plate number; it was registered to two people, and one of them was the ex-girlfriend of the man whose mug shot was considered in the Fleet Farm thefts. The ex-girlfriend was dating Enrique Soto.

Fast-forward to July 2022, a man was trying to leave Walmart with two Hart 20-volt tool kits that had their security spider wrap removed. When he was asked for his receipt at the exit, he turned back into the store, crossed the registers, and exited through the other doors. When he was confronted, he left the shopping cart, which also contained cat food, tea bags and diapers. He left in a Toyota Camry. The license plates were registered to Enrique Soto.

A month later, in August of 2022, a Woodman’s employee recognized Soto from a previous attempt to steal liquor by hiding it under bags of chips and behind larger, bulk items. He was stopped by a cashier that time, said he was going to get his wallet, and never came back for the merchandise. He was more successful on September 25, using the same method of hiding the liquor bottles. He was confronted by a cashier but still got away with nearly $500 worth of alcohol and $181 in food.

In the open cases against him in Brown County court, Soto is charged with a total of:

  • 9 counts of Retail Theft - Intentionally taking merchandise valued from $500 to $5,000
  • 2 counts of Retail Theft - Intentionally taking merchandise valued less than $500 **
  • 1 count of Felony Bail Jumping
  • 1 count of Operating While Revoked
  • 1 count of Possession of Narcotic Drugs
  • 1 count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • 1 count of Vehicle Operator Fleeing/Eluding an Officer
  • 1 count of Disorderly Conduct

The retail theft charge with a higher value is a felony carrying up to 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count. The bail jumping charge could put him in prison for up to 6 years.

The sheriff’s office says its investigation of Soto is not closed yet.