Target employee cut after confronting man, woman shoplifting, police say

Police asking public to help identify accused assailants

YULEE, Fla. – The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying a man and woman who police say stole merchandise from a Target store, then pulled a knife on an employee who confronted them.

The man and woman were caught at 6:11 p.m. Monday on Target security cameras as they loaded their shopping carts and tried to leave the store without paying for about $1,000 worth of merchandise, officials said.

As they tried to leave, a store employee confronted them, and the man pulled a knife and cut the employee several times on the wrist and hand before driving away in a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck, officials said. The employee's injuries required several stitches.

The employee gave police a partial Georgia license plate ending in 089, officials said.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said it's difficult for employees who want to keep a suspected shoplifter at the store until police arrive but might be putting themselves in danger by stopping the person.

"There is tremendous risk. Store owners may not want me to say this, but I would strongly recommend that no employee try to stop someone who’s committing a crime," Smith said. "I know it’s somewhat of a natural reaction for some people, because you want to protect your store, but you have to protect yourself first. No amount of merchandise they take is going to be worth risking your life over."

Smith said typically loss prevention employees try to stop thieves while they're still inside the building.

"By law they have to pass the cash register, then it’s committing theft at that point," Smith said. "They do try to grab them in the store, because you have more walls surrounding them, more barriers, more employees. Outside, it’s wide open."

Witnesses told police that they saw sores on the couple's bodies.The man was wearing a gray hoodie and blue jeans. The woman was wearing blue jean shorts and a tie-dyed shirt.

Comments on the Nassau County Sheriff's Office Facebook page indicate some people in the area think they know who the couple is and have been communicating that information to detectives through the social media site.

Anyone with information on the identities of the couple is asked to call Nassau County sheriff’s Detective Thomas Kelley at 904-548-4074, or email him at tkelley@nassauso.com.

To remain anonymous, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).

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