Shoplifting Suspect Uses Pepper Spray


A woman detained by loss prevention officers as a suspected shoplifter, ended up being arrested for robbery, after she used pepper spray in an attempt to escape.

The incident occurred around 6:15 p.m. Thursday night at the Burlington Coat Factory, located at 24 E. Magnolia Blvd., in the Burbank Town Center mall.  Loss prevention officers had detained the woman, Ashley Hawelu, 21, of Valley Village,  for shoplifting clothing and undergarments from the store. She was placed, unrestrained, in a detention room in the store.  When the officers went into the room to complete their report, they were attacked with pepper spray that the suspect had in her purse.  She became combative and had to be restrained by the loss prevention officers and mall security until Burbank Police officers arrived.

The Burbank Fire Department responded to the store, where paramedics treated the two loss prevention officers and the suspect for the effects of pepper spray exposure.  No one needed to be transported to the hospital.

The suspect, Hawelu, was placed under arrest for robbery, rather than the less serious crime of shoplifting, because she had used force in her attempt to get away from custody.   She was also arrested for the unlawful use of tear gas, and booked into the Glendale Jail.  Her bail was set at $50,000.

    Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center