Accused Shoplifter Exposed In Chase

Seth Burkett, Decatur Daily News, October 4, 2006

Drivers held up by a fender bender Monday afternoon on Danville Road Southwest saw something unusual—an alleged shoplifter trying to bum a ride to escape mall security guards, Decatur police said.

But that wasn’t all they saw, one witness said.

Evan Ashby, a Sears employee, said he joined the chase after he saw the woman run, “huffing and puffing,” away from a pile of discarded, stolen clothes and a loss prevention officer whose face she allegedly clawed in an attempt to get away.

Police later identified the woman as Candace Darcel Jones, 21, of 904 East 16th St., Sheffield. Ashby, loss prevention officer Brian Runyans and a store manager followed Jones. Runyans advised the others not to try to grab her, Ashby said.

“She gets into the middle of Danville Road, and I guess decides that we’re not going to leave her alone. She yells, ‘Help me! Help me! They’re going to take me to jail!’ and she starts going up to each car, beating on the window and begging the people to let her in. … Both of her breasts come falling out of her shirt … and she’s beating on windows. …” Ashby said.

“She’s walking down the middle of Danville road, from car to car, stopping cars that are in the other lane. She’s going up to black folks, saying, ‘I’m black! I’m black! Let me in! You know how it is.’ … She was begging people to get in the car. ‘Please, man, please, I can’t go to jail, just take me anywhere, man,’ “ Ashby said.

The Sears employees explained to drivers that the woman was a shoplifter and, apparently, no one wanted to give her a ride, Ashby said.

In the intersection at the mall entrance, Jones jumped on the bumper of a red full-size pickup that slowed down, only to hop off when the truck stopped after a short distance, Ashby said.

“By then, mall security was there, and they can arrest her. She had gotten an SUV to stop, and she’s on one side, and mall security’s on the other side. They’re playing like a child’s game. She lays up on the hood, and was like, ‘Go, go, go!’ “ Ashby said.

The driver didn’t go.

Jones climbed off the hood and ran toward First American Bank, where a Decatur police detective had parked his car, Ashby said.

Police spokesman Lt. Chris Mathews said Detective Todd Walker caught Jones and placed her under arrest on a charge of disorderly conduct.

“Todd saw her on Danville Road impeding traffic and causing a hazard. She was pulling on door handles of cars as they would pass by. Apparently, she was trying to get into a car to get away from the loss prevention officer,” Mathews said.

Ashby said Jones tried to run from Walker, but didn’t get far.

“She starts in with a sob story, ‘I can’t go to jail. I’ve got to pay an $800 fine tomorrow, or I’m going to jail.’ And his response was, ‘You’re going to jail tonight.’ And then he says to her, ‘Fix your top, or I can get you for indecent exposure,’” Ashby said.

Jones told Walker she was stealing because she was pregnant and needed money to pay a fine, Ashby said.

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