Shoplifters get into a tug-of-war with A&F store employees

Daily Post Staff Writer

Two thieves armed with pepper spray played a brazen game of hide-and-seek, tag and tug-of-war with employees before running off with 11 winter coats from the Abercrombie & Fitch store at Stanford Shopping Center, police said last night (Jan. 25).

The women arrived at the store around 4 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 24), grabbed 21 men’s jackets and ran outside, where they crouched behind some planter boxes to hide, according to Palo Alto police Agent Marianna Villaescusa. Each of the jackets cost about $150. The store manager was working in the back stockroom when he heard a saleswoman report the theft over his headset, so he ran out the front door toward the north parking lot, where he assumed they had gone.

But the two thieves were hiding behind the planter boxes just outside the store’s front entrance.

“It’s like a cartoon, right? He went past them,” Villaescusa said.

Hair color gave her away

The saleswoman ran outside, looked to her right and saw both thieves trying to hide. One of them had dyed red or pink hair, which drew the saleswoman’s attention, Villaescusa said.

Both the manager and saleswoman tried to grab the jackets, and after a short bout of tug-of-war, they were able to retrieve 10 coats from the women.

Still carrying the 11 remaining stolen jackets, the thieves ran toward the parking lot, where they had parked a new black Volkswagen Touareg SUV with paper plates. The SUV was backed into a parking spot, as if to be ready to go, Villaescusa said.

The manager and saleswoman ran after the thieves to the SUV, at which point the red-haired woman pulled out a can of pepper spray or mace and sprayed both of them in the face.

Medics responded to irrigate the saleswoman’s eyes, Villaescusa said. Her manager declined medical treatment.

The red-haired woman was described as black, in her 20s and standing 5 foot 5 inches tall and weighing about 155 pounds. She had long hair and wore a long denim jacket, Villaescusa said. The second thief was a black woman, but police didn’t have a further physical description of her.