When a woman was approached by an Athens police officer outside of a Target store Tuesday morning, she handed over a receipt.
That piece of paper showed that she bought nearly three dozen tubs of Play-Doh among a few other items. However, there wasn’t a single container of the colorful children’s craft material in her cart.
Minutes later, the woman was in handcuffs and faced a felony.
Police charged Regina Marie Williams, 28, of Hull, with shoplifting from the Target at 3065 Atlanta Highway, according to a police incident report obtained by AJC.com. She’s accused of using a 55-cent Play-Doh bar code 32 times at a self-checkout kiosk while taking more than $500 worth of items.
Police were called to the store about 8 a.m. as Williams was still checking out her items, the report said. A Target loss prevention officer said he had been suspicious of Williams, who he had allegedly caught trying to shoplift from the store before.
He told the police officer that employees previously made Williams re-scan all of her purchases when she tried to use a bar code for a cheap item to purchase several more expensive items — a shoplifting tactic called “ticket switching.”
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He suspected she was striking again when he spotted her on surveillance video scanning her hand instead of her items, the report said. Another employee also told police she saw what appeared to be a bar code stuck to the suspect’s hand.
When Williams finished checking out and walked to her vehicle, the police officer confronted her. Williams handed the officer her receipt, which showed she purchased $86.04 worth of merchandise, including $17.60 worth of Play-Doh.
In addition to a lack of Play-Doh, the officer noted in the report that there was “very clearly way more merchandise in (Williams’) cart than $86.04 worth.”
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The officer also spotted a bar code sticker protruding from the suspect’s wallet, the report said. When he tried to take a closer look, Williams is accused of trying to snatch it back while asking for a lawyer. That’s when she was detained.
The items in her cart added up to $597.27, which means she's accused of underpaying by more than $500. In Georgia, shoplifting more than $500 is a felony.
Williams was booked into the Clarke County Jail and released later that day on a $5,700 bond, according to jail records.
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution