Authorities say that a store manager was pepper-sprayed by thieves Saturday night as they fled the scene of a south Forsyth Victoria’s Secret store with stolen merchandise.
According to Cpl. Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, at about 8 p.m., on Saturday three suspects, described as young black females wearing all black, entered the Victoria’s Secret store at 410 Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth and allegedly gathered a large number of items before fleeing the store.
Rainwater said that as they fled the store, one of the suspects turned around and fired a can of pepper spray into the face of a nearby store manager.
This not the first time the sheriff’s office has had problems with shoplifters at this particular location. Rainwater said that less than a day after the incident on Saturday evening, deputies returned to the store to make a new report for a new shoplifting incident.
Sheriff's office incident reports show that over the last six months, deputies have responded to 12 cases of shoplifting at this Victoria's Secret location.
The reports state that during each incident thieves entered the store in broad daylight and stole as much as $3,000 in merchandise, before leaving.
Rainwater said that while these incidents are believed to be perpetrated by different criminals, they are linked by how powerless authorities are to stop it.
In each of these incidents Victoria’s Secret store management has declined to prosecute due to company policy, Rainwater said, and without that, they couldn't make an arrest even if the perpetrators responsible were found.
"We are stuck in the middle," Rainwater said. "Even if you catch somebody at Victoria’s Secret in the act of stealing, and as they are walking out the door we have a deputy standing right there, still it would require somebody from Victoria's Secret to tell us that they want to prosecute before we could put that person in jail."
In recent years, Rainwater said they have seen similar no prosecution policies grow more uncommon, with larger businesses like Walmart and Target choosing to arrest all shoplifters. Rainwater also said businesses who have policies of not prosecuting are being targeted more often by criminals who consider them easy pickings.
"Until businesses decide to prosecute, this type of crime will continue,” Rainwater said.
On Tuesday night, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman said that due to the violence exhibited in this most recent case, deputies and investigators will be seeking all three suspects from Saturday for possible robbery charges, regardless of the participation from Victoria's Secret management.
"To say that I am frustrated is an understatement," Freeman said. "These people came to our county and committed what amounts to a felony, we will be pursuing charges."
Freeman stated that he also has problems with corporate policies that like in this instance, allegedly require employees to call a main office before dialing 911, saying that such policies put people in danger.
"In my opinion, it does put people in danger," he said. "In that time, those criminals could have been apprehended or something bad could have happened at that store or somewhere else."
Currently attempts to reach a Victoria’s Secret spokesperson for comment have been unsuccessful.