Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

Search for shoplifting suspect in Hillsborough mall's retention pond comes up empty

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies suspended their search Tuesday night for a suspected shoplifter who was last seen wading into a pond near University Mall.

The woman, who was not immediately identified, was caught shoplifting by two employees about 4:30 p.m. inside Burlington Coat Factory at 2200 University Square Mall, the Sheriff's Office said.

While escorting her to an office, she ran away from them and out of the store. The employees chased her until she closed in on a retention pond near the northeast corner of the mall property.

The employees said they momentarily turned away and lost sight of her. Since it was unclear if she had involuntarily gone underwater or successfully evaded them, sheriff's divers were called in to search the pond.

After divers, a helicopter and ground patrols failed to locate her, the search was called off for the night at about 7:30 p.m. Authorities were notified of a possible sighting at N 15th Street, but were not able to find the woman. It was unclear Tuesday night if the pond search would resume Wednesday.

The suspect is black and in her late teens or early twenties. She has black hair and was wearing a blue checkered blouse and blue jeans. Anyone with any information can call (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

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