A Sunday night shoplifting spree at the Porter Walmart ended with four damaged vehicles and a 15-year-old driver in the custody of the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office for holding a baby in her lap as she tried unsuccessfully to navigate their escape in a borrowed “getaway” car.

The trouble began around 7 p.m. when Walmart’s asset protection officers witnessed three black females concealing multiple items and proceeding to leave the store. The store employees attempted to intercept the shoplifters who ran toward a 2012 Chrysler 200 that was parked in a handicapped space.  That’s when a 15-year-old female, who was waiting in the car, jumped behind the wheel. She threw the vehicle into reverse, slamming into a parked car. She then put it in drive and spun the tires before crashing into two other vehicles. Her friends passed her and kept running toward the intersection of US 59 and FM 1314.

The second vehicle struck was a pickup whose owner witnessed the entire incident, and became involved. He saw the teen bail out of the car and run after striking the third vehicle, and he was horrified to realize she was holding an infant the whole time.  The man began to chase the teen as she ran toward a nearby Whataburger restaurant, where he caught up with her and checked to make sure the baby was uninjured as deputies detained the teen. Turns out, the infant was the teen’s younger sister and the car belonged to her grandmother.  Precinct 4 deputies contacted the teen’s father who responded to the scene and took custody of the infant. He told deputies his daughter was supposed to be caring for the baby while he was away from the house. Her grandmother said she had no idea her car had been taken.
The 15-year-old was arrested and charged with Abandon / Endanger Child, Criminal Negligence. Because she is a juvenile, her identity is protected.
The other three suspects got away, but the investigation is continuing.

Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden said people should stop assuming the Porter Walmart is an easy place to shoplift, just because it is a busy store.

“The Porter Walmart has employees who are trained to spot shoplifters and they work with us every day,” Constable Hayden said. “A lot of times, they detain the shoplifters and we respond and take over, but sometimes the shoplifters take it to the next level, as in this case.”
“We’re usually able to respond quickly, but thanks to EMCID’s funding for extra patrols of the shopping areas during the holiday season, there’s always a Precinct 4 unit nearby, and possibly already in the parking lot,” he said. “In this case, we had a citizen who witnessed the incident and also became involved out of concern for the infant, who could have been seriously injured.”

“While we don’t advocate citizens attempting to apprehend criminals, this man’s actions should serve as a reminder that, unlike some places, there are still people in East County who care about their community and won’t look the other way when a crime is committed.”
Constable Hayden said his agency plans to hold the other three suspects accountable, and have them charged like the dozens of others arrested by the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office during holiday the annual EMCID funded shopping patrols.