Former deputy charged with 18 counts of theft from grocery store

CHESTERTOWN — A former Kent County deputy who over two decades of decorated service had been applauded by his boss, county officials and the public now finds himself on the other side of the criminal justice system.

Stuart M. Lodge, 45, of Chestertown is set to stand trial on Monday, June 17 on 18 counts of theft less than $100 and one count of conducting a theft scheme less than $1,500.

A special prosecutor has been assigned to the case, which will be heard in the District Court for Kent County.

On March 7, Lodge was served a summons outlining the charges against him.

He is accused of taking items from the Redner’s Market in Chestertown without paying for them. This allegedly occurred on 18 different occasions in March and April 2023, sometimes more than once on the same day, according to the application for statement of charges.

The total cost of the items was $251.73, according to the charging document.

At the time of the alleged offenses, Lodge was a captain with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and was the patrol commander.

He had been with the KCSO since 2002, Sheriff Dennis Hickman told The Evening Enterprise.

According to the charging document, Hickman was alerted to the allegations on April 21, 2023 in a phone call from Corey Deily, director of security for Redner’s Market in the Washington Square shopping center in Chestertown.

Deily related that a deputy with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office “was observed to be stealing grocery items from the store,” according to the charging document.

He said that while the security team was monitoring the self-checkout area of the store, an individual — subsequently identified as Lodge — was not scanning several items that totaled $17.48.

After paying for some of the items now in his possession, the individual “proceeded to pass all points of sale with the unscanned items.”

The individual was escorted to the office area of the store where he was positively identified by his driver’s license as Stuart McDonald Lodge.

After a digital photo of Lodge was taken, he was permitted to leave the store with the items he had paid for.

“This is common practice within Redner’s Market security,” the charging document states.

After Lodge left the store, the store manager informed the loss prevention team that Lodge was a deputy with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

Because Lodge was a police officer, a request was made that the state police Criminal Enforcement Division-Northern Region take over the investigation.

On April 25, 2023, investigators met with Deily at the Redner’s in Chestertown. The store’s director of security provided a flash drive containing 18 videos of Lodge allegedly taking merchandise from the store since March 29.

According to the charging document, Lodge was in uniform sometimes.

Investigators were provided with receipts of items purchased by Lodge as well as documentation of what was taken without being paid for.

Investigators reviewed the surveillance footage and the receipts provided by Deily.

According to the charging document, sometimes only one item was taken without being paid for.

On occasion, as many as three, four or five items were taken at one time without being paid for.

The charging document states: “Loss prevention employees reviewed video surveillance of all the listed transaction[s] and observed Lodge fail to pay for all items, place them in a bag and walk past the last point of sale in the store.”

Hickman told The Evening Enterprise that he initially suspended Lodge with pay on April 23, 2023.

According to the charging document, Lodge resigned on July 14.

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