WINTER HAVEN, FL (WFLA) – A Florida woman was jailed on theft and aggravated battery charges after police said she stole nearly $1,000 worth of merchandise from the Winter Haven Walmart and tried to run down the police officer who confronted her. She was babysitting two children at the time. And the plot thickens — she was arrested for stealing a swimming pool at the same Walmart in April.
The latest incident happened at the Walmart at 355 Cypress Gardens Blvd in Winter Haven, Florida.
Witnesses watched Elaina West, 29, and the kids select televisions and other electronics and exit the store without paying, police said.
“She had the children assist her filling up the buggies with large electronic items to the tune of almost $1000 worth, then proceeded out of the Garden Center without any attempt to pay,” Winter Haven Police spokesperson Jamie Brown told News Channel 8.
A Winter Haven police officer was already at the store speaking with a loss prevention officer when he was approached by an employee who informed him of the theft and pointed him toward West and the two kids, who had already made their way to the parking lot and were loading the merchandise into a car.
The arresting officer, who was wearing his uniform and badge, ordered West to stop. He stood in front of her vehicle to prevent her from leaving the parking lot. The officer said West screamed “Move!” and hit the gas. One of the kids was inside the car, the other was standing in the parking lot when she tried to flee.
“She had the young boy in the vehicle, but she left the girl outside of the vehicle. She attempted to leave, pushing our officer, who was outside of the car, approximately four to five feet,” Brown said.
The child inside the vehicle later told police he was scared that West would run over the officer and heard her state, “Get out of the way or I am going to run you over.”
The other child told police she did not want to go to the store, but West threatened to slap her if she did not help with the theft, and since she’s an authority figure, she felt like she had to go.
“You are pretty low when you’re involving children to commit the crimes that you are committing. If you want to commit the crime and do the time, that’s fine, but don’t drag children into it,” Brown said.
Latoya Deloach-Anglin saw the commotion and started recording a video on Facebook.
“When you take kids into that kind of environment, that’s a whole different level,” Deloach-Anglin said. “I thought, ‘you know what, let me record this so that people will act accordingly.’”
West was taken into custody and charged with grand theft, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, contributing to delinquency/dependency of a minor and knowingly driving with a suspended/revoked license.
She was booked into the Polk County Jail.
A judge denied her bond because she was already out on bond for a similar charge.