The Alliance Police Department said officers were dispatched to the Walmart store in Alliance at about 6 a.m. Wednesday to investigate a reported theft in progress, WOIO-TV, Cleveland, reported Monday.
The suspect escaped on foot with a shopping cart filled with unpaid merchandise, police said.
Police said dispatchers received a call just before 7 a.m. from a man who identified himself as a friend of James Brienzo. The friend said Brienzo had been picked up by a garbage truck while hiding in a Dumpster near the store and had already been compacted with the trash once.
Dispatchers made contact with Brienzo and his cellphone was tracked to the right garbage truck.
An officer told CBS News police arrived at the truck to find Brienzo "was in a lot of pain. He had been compacted several times. He was begging us to empty the truck."
Brienzo was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Canton and airlifted to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where doctors said he is expected to recover from his injuries.