FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – This is how the operation worked:

Someone would come to them and order, say, $200 worth of steaks or high-priced seafood. Then, the three homeless men would hit one of the grocery stores, go in different doors and head separately to the meat or seafood counters.

They’d order or pickup whatever was on their list. They would each head to an empty aisle, stuff whatever they had in their jackets or pants, and simply walk out. Afterward, they’d sell what they took to their customer for half price.

And that’s how the men made cash.

Until this past weekend.

Fort Wayne police arrested the men after an employee at the Kroger on St. Joe Center Road got wise to their act, which sent the men scurrying and led to a short vehicle pursuit with officers.

The men – identified as 59-year-olds Roderick Overton and Tommy Dailey and 64-year-old Miles Nelson Williams – apparently met at the Rescue Mission, one of them told police in Allen Superior Court documents.

They didn’t say when they hatched the plans for their operation – and Williams maintained in court documents that he was not a part of the scheme even though one described him as the money and order man – but one did say they had hit other Walmarts, Krogers and Meijers in the area.

The day they were arrested, Overton was supposed to get some ribeye steaks while Nelson was assigned ribs and Dailey crab legs, according to court documents.

Overton watched Dailey get more than two pounds of the crab legs, and then he went up to the same counter and ordered the steaks. He also ordered an extra 2pound box of crab legs – which is what drew the suspicion of a Kroger employee.

That employee later told police that much crab legs being sold back to back was unusual, according to court documents. The employee began to approach Overton, who had ducked into an aisle with an empty shopping cart to stuff the crab legs and steaks into his sweatshirt.

The employee asked Overton to hand over what he took, according to court documents. Without saying a word, Overton charged at the employee and pushed the cart at him, using it to strike the man’s shin.

Then he ran to a van the trio had parked outside.

Overton and Dailey both arrived at the van first, with Overton getting into the driver’s seat. They waited for Nelson, according to court documents, but when it looked like another person behind the van was writing down its license plate number, Overton panicked.

He drove off and circled the lot looking for Nelson. He spotted him at the gas station in the Kroger parking lot, picked him up and began to speed away from the scene.

A squad car, though, was right behind him.

Overton ignored the officer’s lights and sirens as he swerved and sped down St. Joe Center Road toward Maplecrest Road, and then on Maplecrest Road toward Langwood Boulevard, according to court documents.

Once on Langwood Boulevard, Overton jumped out of the van while it was still moving. He began running from an officer in between and behind houses until he tripped and fell. That’s when the officer caught him.

As the officer walked him back to the van, the steaks and seafood he had stuffed in his sweatshirt fell out and onto the ground.

Officers took Dailey and Nelson into custody, as well.

All told, they tried to make off with $289 worth of product that day.

Overton is facing charges of robbery when taking property from another by using or threatening force and resisting law enforcement. Dailey was booked into Allen County Jail on charges of robbery and conversion.

Charges against Williams – who told police he was just in the store to use the restroom – are pending as he has an active felony warrant out of Kentucky.

He’s being held in jail awaiting extradition to face those counts first, according to jail records