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Off-duty officer busts brazen shoplifter in parking lot scuffle

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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - The Midwest City Home Depot store was the scene of some after-hours crime-fighting last week.

The arresting captain is one of the metro's most recognizable officers.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama thwarted a high-dollar theft during a mid-day trip to the big box retailer.

It happened in the middle of the day, about 12:30 p.m. on September 16.

According to the police report, a Home Depot loss prevention officer store spotted a thief going to great lengths to steal an expensive item.

"The individual got a ladder and went to an aisle to get an item over $500," said Midwest City Police Department Assistant Chief Sid Porter. "The loss prevention officer saw the individual go up, pick up a tankless water heater, get down and start to walk toward the checkout."

Porter said the brazen shoplifter walked right out of the store and did not pay.

According to court paperwork, the loss prevention officer suspected the suspect might put up a fight and, so, he enlisted the help of a high-profile customer.

Balderama had popped into the store on a quick errand - no uniform, no gun, no cuffs.

"It was just on my lunch hour," Balderrama said. "I had a couple of things to return. No big deal."

Well, the loss prevention officer recognized Balderrama from a decade of doing TV interviews for the Oklahoma City Police Department.

"I'm kind of used to it," Balderrama said. "People see me on the news when I give information about a crime."

He asked Balderrama to help out in case the suspect tried to run.

Sure enough, Balderrama watched the suspect push the employee over and try to get away.

"It was a felony crime, a felony crime occurring in my presence basically," Balderrama said.

Jonathan Parker, 35, was arrested after a brief parking lot scuffle.

"I'm just glad I was able to help out and nobody got hurt," Balderrama said.

A little lunch-time law and order for an officer who knows he represents the badge even when he's not wearing it.

Parker has a handful of other charges and convictions in Oklahoma County related to stealing.