LIMA — The assistant manager at a local Dollar General Store was injured and now fears possible disciplinary action after trying to stop a shoplifter Friday.
Rachel Dawson has been assistant manager at the Dollar General Store at 1740 N. Union St. for the past 15 years. On Friday, she tried to stop the shoplifter. Dawson suffered from a concussion, a broken nose and other bruises, scrapes and scratches.
Dawson recounted what happened when a man and a woman entered the Northland Plaza store around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.
“At first they came in, looking all around. I thought something was up anyway, but they went in and did their shopping. I was running the register at the time,” Dawson said. “The gentleman that was with her came up and bought two large gift bags, paid for them. I thought he took them out to the car, but actually he went back into the store and gave them to her. She loaded them up with merchandise, and then as I was ringing other customers, she tried to scoot out the front door really quick.”
Dawson could see that the male accomplice had parked in front of the store.
“I went outside the door to tell her, ‘Hey, you need to give that stuff back.’ I opened up the (passenger) door to try to grab the stuff, and she took off,” Dawson said.
Dawson didn’t let go of the door as the car sped off.
“She just floored it. I couldn’t run that fast, and I just dropped and face-planted. After that, I went to the hospital in an ambulance,” Dawson said.
According to Det. Don Geiger with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, Dawson was drug by the vehicle approximately 250 feet.
A district manager also witnessed the incident, according to Dawson.
“He had just rolled up because we were getting ready for inventory. He saw me take the tumble,” Dawson said.
Dawson is concerned that her split-second decision could affect her job.
“Oh dear, I might lose my job. We are not supposed to stop (a shoplifter) until they’re past our points of sale, which is outside the door. In order to say anything to them about having stuff, they got to actually be outside the store. I’ve been here 15 years, and it’s like they’re stealing from me,” Dawson said.
She admits she probably shouldn’t have gone out.
Her advice to other clerks who are faced with a similar situation: “Don’t chase them. It’s not worth it. That little bit of product isn’t worth getting scuffed up and broken bones. Shoot, I could have rolled under the car and got killed. I didn’t think about any of that. It was just s split-second decision,” Dawson said.
Major Andre McConnahea, with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, who at one time worked in loss prevention in a retail setting, understands both sides of the issue.
“I would say employees have to follow the policies of their business,” McConnahea said. “A lot of businesses have moved away from intervening with shoplifters for obvious reasons, but many still do, and it is always a dangerous situation to prevent somebody from committing a crime. You generally don’t know who you’re dealing with. On the other end, you don’t know what they’re willing to do if they want to get away.”
Geiger says they have a lead on a suspect.
“The female suspect has been identified by law enforcement, and an arrest is likely in the coming days,” Geiger wrote in an email.
One of Dawson’s friends has set up a GoFundMe account to help with her medical expenses, Help Rachel keep Rockin, at j.mp/3jWLk3S. The account raised $480 by Monday afternoon.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.