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Shoplifter pepper-sprays TJ Maxx employee during robbery

By Todd Kazakiewich

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    NEWTON, Massachusetts (WCVB) — Police are sharing surveillance video that shows a T.J. Maxx employee in Massachusetts getting pepper-sprayed by a woman who shoplifted nearly $3,000 worth of merchandise from the store.

According to police, the robbery happened just before 6 p.m. Sunday at the Newton location on Needham Street.

The video shows the suspect walking into the store, grabbing a hooded sweatshirt and then asking an employee to see a purse that is in a locked display case.

Police said when the employee told the woman that she could only see one item at a time, the suspect grabbed two Balenciaga handbags and took off, along with the hoodie.

The employee chased after the woman and appeared to try to pull back the merchandise. That is when the suspect used pepper spray on her.

Newton police said the employee who was pepper-sprayed had to be transported to a hospital, noting that her face was red and puffy and that her eyes were swollen shut.

“Two people walk through the store together. The one that was wearing the GAP shirt, she’s our suspect,” Newton police Lt. Bruce Apotheker said. “If anybody has any information on her, we’re asking that they call our department and let us know who that is.”

The surveillance video also showed another woman who accompanied the suspect into that T.J. Maxx store.

“If someone recognizes the person (the suspect) was with, we would love to speak to her,” Apotheker said. “Maybe, she witnessed something.”

According to police, the incident at T.J. Maxx was at least the second instance in the month of February in which a customer pepper-sprayed an employee during a shoplifting/robbery incident.

“We never want anybody, any employee, to ever try to stop someone, ever try to get involved in any way,” Apotheker said. “The way you should get involved is by being our eyes and ears.”

T.J. Maxx and its parent company, TJX, did not respond to NewsCenter 5’s request for comment as of Tuesday evening.

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