Police: More Shoplifters Turning Violent - WSPA.com

Police: More Shoplifters Turning Violent

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GREENVILLE, S.C. -

Greenville Police say they’re noticing a dangerous trend – a string of shoplifters turning violent in the upstate.

Officer Johnathan Bragg said Rosa Anjela Aguilera was busted all the way in Elgin, Illinois and charged with attempted murder and armed robbery. In February, police said Aguilera left Dillard’s at Haywood Mall with more than $1,500 worth of dresses. When a Dillard’s employee tried to stop her in the parking lot, police said she hit him with her car.

“We're seeing more people showing a little bit more aggression when they're being confronted," said Bragg.

Greenville shopper Jonathan Jones said it's a worrisome trend, but he's not surprised.

“You know, Greenville's becoming a bigger city. It's growing. More people are coming here, which means you're going to have more violence," said Jones.

Over the weekend, Greenville Police said Emanuel Bentley pushed an employee at a Greenville Bi-Lo, who confronted him after he put four t-bone steaks and some ribs down his pants.

A few weeks ago, police said another woman swung a knife at a JC Penney loss prevention employee, also at Haywood Mall, when he confronted her for shoplifting.

Last month, Simpsonville Police said David Scott Lawter tried to run over an officer after shoplifting at Wal-Mart, then led them on a high-speed chase through a busy Fountain Inn festival.

“When they approach these people, these people are in a panic already. Their nerves are up and they're trying to get away. So they're going to do what they have to do to get away," said Bragg.

Bragg said it's a problem that's difficult to track because there are no solid numbers on violent shoplifting. When a shoplifter turns violent, it's no longer classified as a shoplifting. Instead, it's listed as an armed or strong-armed robbery. A lot of crimes fall into those categories.

Bragg said the best tool to track down shoplifters is the surveillance cameras inside the store. That's how police identified Aguilera.

He said if you see a shoplifter in action, don't confront them.

“It's really dangerous to confront people, especially here lately. We've seen people carrying knives," said Bragg.

He said the best thing you can do to help is be a good witness.

Related:
Woman Who Tried to Run Over Officer Caught
Meat Thief Made Off with 4 T-Bone Steaks Down His Pants
Woman Pulls Knife on JC Penney Worker at Haywood Mall
Simpsonville Police Looking for Suspect After High Speed Chase

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