“Free the Walmart One! Free the Walmart One!” (James M Thresher/TWP)

The cow then fled on hoof and escaped. And in the final irony, he was captured a short time later outside a hamburger restaurant.

This all happened in the Garrisonville area of Stafford County, just south of the Quantico marine base, at the Walmart on Garrisonville Road. And the suspect was not a cow, but allegedly an 18-year-old Stafford man in a cow suit, according to Bill Kennedy, the spokesman for the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.

Kennedy said witnesses watched the cow-man enter the store on all fours, and then watched again as he pushed a full cart outside. He said there were no takers for the offer of free milk directly from a cow.

The $92 worth of stolen milk was then abandoned in front of the store, and the cow-man then raised up on two feet and “was last seen skipping down the sidewalk by an employee,” Kennedy said. There is, unfortunately, no surveillance video of any of this.

A sheriff’s deputy arrived soon to investigate, but the suspect was gone. As the deputy was wrapping up his probe, Kennedy said, he was called to a nearby McDonald’s for a reported disturbance.

The cow was not stirring up any trouble at the burger joint or attempting any mischief involving cow meat, Kennedy said. But there was a man sitting in the back seat of a car next to a cow suit, and after some questioning, deputies determined the man was the suspect in the earlier Walmart heist, Kennedy said.

Jonathan Payton, 18, was charged in a misdemeanor summons with shoplifting and was released, Kennedy said. “I suspect it was a prank that went too far,” Kennedy said. “It would have been funny if he hadn’t taken the milk.”

InsideNoVa.com first broke this story, declaring it “udderly shocking.”

Longtime readers of this blog will note that Stafford County is strictly outside the boundaries of the State of NoVa, which reach to the southern border of Prince William County. Though such a bovine bust would never happen in the civilized lands of Northern Virginia, Kennedy noted that in Stafford, “this is our first incident of a cow shoplifter.”