Newton Police asking for public’s help to identify robbery suspect that pepper sprayed employee

NEWTON, Mass. — Newton Police say a woman stole almost three thousand dollars worth of merchandise from the TJ Maxx on Needham Street and then walked out.

“Shortly before 6 PM this past Sunday we had somebody walk into the store look around took a hoodie took a couple purses and proceeded out the door,” said Lt. Bruce Apotheker of the Newton Police Department.

But that’s not all Police say surveillance video shows how she was followed out by an employee. When the worker tries to stop the woman she is pepper sprayed right in the face.

“When someone uses force and violence use the chemical spray then it becomes a robbery,” said Lt Apotheker.

Newton Police hope someone will recognizes her and her accomplice. Investigators say the two women walked in the TJ Maxx together. One of the suspects, who was wearing a gap sweatshirt, grabbed a hoodie. She then asked to see a purse locked behind the counter. When the woman asked to see another purse, an employee told her that she was only allowed to see one at a time, but the woman grabbed a second purse, both of which were Balenciaga, and walked out.

This is the second time in a month an employee in town was pepper sprayed trying to stop a thief.

At this CVS on Centre Street a similar incident took place on February 7th.

“Early February we had two people walking to CVS items one person filled a red basket full of items and proceeded out the door,” said Apotheker. A worker at the CVS attempted to stop that person outside, when they were pepper sprayed. Police acknowledge that employees attempting to stop a possible robber is an understandable reaction, but they ask people not to do that.

“So this is very disturbing to us. We never want anybody any employee to ever try to stop someone to ever to get involved in anyway,” said Apotheker.

When police arrived the employee who had been pepper sprayed had a red face, her eyes were puffy and swollen shut. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Police do not believe the two incidents are related.

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