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OFF BEAT: Wild ride to prevent theft gets Wal-Mart manager fired over safety


A Florida Wal-Mart manager whose efforts to thwart the theft of a pickup truck full of beer led to his taking a wild high-speed ride in the back of the truck has been fired over the incident.

News reports quoted a spokesman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as saying that Mike Dawson, an assistant manager at a Wal-Mart in Titusville, Fla., violated company safety policy by placing himself in danger by climbing into the truck rather than simply taking down its license number. Mr. Dawson was fired Monday.

Mr. Dawson reportedly said he had intended to only take down the license plate number of the two thieves he said were attempting to steal 12 cases of beer from the store Dec. 30, but then jumped into the truck as it backed toward him, fearing he was going to be run over. A 15-mile ride at speeds of more than 90 mph followed until another motorist on his way to a shooting range came to Mr. Dawson's assistance by drawing a gun on the pickup's driver and his accomplice.

The truck's driver was charged with armed robbery, grand theft and kidnapping, reports said.

As for Mr. Dawson, reports said the Wal-Mart spokesman cited his three previous perfect scores in company store safety training in justifying his firing for violating company safety policy.