CAPE CORAL

A man wearing a yellow face mask walked out of Home Depot without paying for anything. Snagging over $1,100 worth of items, like a brand new chainsaw and yard equipment.

An employee asked to see his receipt, but the man kept walking. So the employee along with a customer who saw what was going on followed the man into this parking lot. That’s when the suspect pulled out pepper spray and attacked the customer.

“People get caught up in the moment thinking they can do something to help prevent this crime,” safety and security specialist Rich Kolko said. “The most important thing is that prosecution takes place. But if you get involved, you can get hurt, and innocent bystanders can get hurt, the employees at the store could get hurt.”

‘Here, have some mace!’ the suspect exclaimed, just before spraying the customer in both eyes.

These can become very dangerous scenarios for bystanders.

“This person that showed up already had a weapon with them, they had pepper spray,” says Kolko. “We don’t know at this point if they had additional weapons. Did they have a knife? Did they have a gun? Were they a repeat offender?”

The employee then followed the suspect to his car in the parking lot and grabbed several of the stolen items out of the car.

“Yeah, I’d stay away from him, let home depot deal with it,” said Cape Coral resident Tedd Good.

Although, others said they’d only get involved if they saw an innocent person being attacked.

“I don’t care about the items. I care about the person,” Cape Coral resident Genelle Thompson said.

Rich Kolko says the best advice is not to get involved but rather, to be a good witness and help law enforcement.

“Get a good description. Check out the car. Look at the direction that they departed. If you can get a license plate, that’s even better. And of course, if you feel safe, go ahead and take some pictures.”

The suspect’s car was later pulled over but the driver told deputies they were the suspect’s neighbor. Investigators told us they believe they know who the suspect is and they’re working on getting a warrant for his arrest. He could face charges for grand theft and battery.


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Home Depot thief maces customer in face after grabbing more than $1K in merchandise