The assault on a store manager by two shoplifters Monday at Tanger Outlets in Commerce was just the tip of a string of robberies over the past two weeks at the popular mall.
In three separate crimes, shoplifters took $13,000 worth of merchandise from the Polo Ralph Lauren outlet, and authorities say thieves stole an undetermined amount of merchandise from a Nike store.
The suspects in the robberies have not been identified, but detectives are reviewing the evidence, Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum said Thursday.
A car with a South Carolina tag was linked to the robbery where the Polo manager was assaulted, she said, adding that detectives were trying to enhance a CCTV image to get the tag number .
Deputies also have security footage of the suspects, but making identifications is more difficult because everyone is wearing masks, Mangum said.
The number of stores and easy access to Interstate 85 make the outlets attractive to thieves, according to the sheriff.
The assault happened around 2.30pm on January 18, when two Polo store workers observed two women, one wearing a shower cap, enter the store, deputies said. Because they were acting suspiciously, a manager walked to the exit door, and as a woman tried to exit with goods, he stuck his arm in front of her.
Deputies said the women then sprayed his face with pepper spray and one tried to punch him in the face.
The women stole approximately $2,100 worth of merchandise and fled in a black Lexus with a South Carolina tag, according to the report.
The day before, on January 17, deputies responded to an alarm around 6:48 a.m. at the Nike store and found a shattered glass door. The thieves had taken items from shelves and a table display was emptied of clothes.
Deputies are also investigating a January 11 shoplifting at the Polo store, where two women stole approximately $3,000 worth of clothing, and another on January 8, where three men stole $3,000 worth of clothing. $8,268. The thieves fled in a blue Ford Freestyle with the license plate removed.
Mangum said additional patrols have been assigned to the outlet.
Following these patrols, a deputy spotted a Cadillac near a dumpster around 2:30 a.m. on January 17 and upon investigation determined that the two individuals were “dumpster diving.”
The man and woman were warned to leave.
Anyone with information about shoplifting and thefts from outlets is asked to contact Investigator Joey Chastain at (706) 387-6042 or email [email protected]
The confidential phone line is (706) 367-3784.