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Hole-in-the-wall peeper nabbed in PTC thrift store

A 23 year-old Covington man was arrested Aug. 31 after he was found to be watching through a hole in the fitting room wall at A Better Way Bargains Thrift Store in Peachtree City while a female customer changed clothes.

Andrew Thomas Payne, of Covington, was charged with peeping tom, according to reports.

An Aug. 31 police report on the incident said an officer arrived at A Better Way Bargains Thrift Store on Dividend Drive at approximately 11:50 a.m. and met with the store manager and a female shopper in response to a call about suspicious activity.

The officer was told that while trying on clothes in the fitting room, the shopper observed a hole in the wall that made her uncomfortable.

“After trying several items of clothing, she hung a dress over the hole in the wall. She advised that, while continuing to try on items of clothing, she observed something protrude through the hole in the wall and push the dress away from the wall, confirming her concerns that someone was on the other side of the wall watching her change clothes,” the police report said.

The report notes that both the officer and the department’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) conducted an investigation of the incident. CID investigators subsequently identified Payne, who confessed to peeping through the hole in the wall to watch the shopper in the dressing room, reports said.

It was not immediately known why Payne was in the store or how the hole came to be in the fitting room wall.

A Better Way Ministries founder John Barrow earlier this week confirmed that Payne was not an employee of the organization.

Commenting Friday on the incident, thrift store regional manager Karen Smithwick said, "There is no way to explain or excuse this difficult situation. We cannot truly express our sorrow for the events effecting our customer. We sincerely apologize. We are so grateful to have video surveillance and to quickly identify the young man involved. We have taken immediate steps to provide a secure dressing room, and ensure a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for all our customers."

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