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Woman accused of shoplifing, pepper-spraying store workers

7:54 PM, May 25, 2012   |    comments
Lonneshia Appling is accused of pepper-spraying employees at an Athens Piggly Wiggly before leaving with more than $88 of food on May 23.
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ATHENS, Ga. - Police in Athens arrested a 340 pound woman after they said she shoplifted more than $88 worth of groceries from a Piggly Wiggly store on Lexington Road on Wednesday.

According to a police report, the woman, Lonneshia Appling, was seen by employees at the grocery store placing items into a canvas bag, including eight cans of beer, vegetable oil, five packages of cheese, five packages of bacon, and two packages of wings.

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Store employees told police that when Appling tried to check out, she only placed one item on the conveyor. When she tried to leave, police said Appling pepper sprayed an employee who tried to stop her in the face. That employee, Jonathan Orr, and other employees continued to try to stop Appling, but she sprayed pepper spray around the store.

When police arrived at the store, the responding officer, Nathaniel Franco, said the smell of pepper spray was strong enough to make him begin coughing. Franco said he started to search for a suspect, described to him as a black woman in a purple dress. Employees told him Appling had been chased to a residence behind the store.

Franco said he heard a woman yelling at someone, and found what he described as a "very large black female in a purple dress" screaming at two store employees.

According to the report, Franco and a second officer took Appling into custody. He said Appling was wanted on active warrants in Clarke, Oconee and Fulton counties at the time of her arrest

Appling was charged with felony theft by shoplifting, disorderly conduct, obstruction, aggravated assault and simple battery. In the report, Franco says Appling claimed to have HIV. He said that if test bear that out, additional could be added, since she spit on one of the store employees.

Additionally, Appling was barred from Piggly Wiggly for the next two years. 

In the report, Franco said that Appling told him to add whatever charges he wanted, "because she was going to plea bargain and half of these charges would be dropped anyway."

The Smoking Gun website said the 26-year-old, 340-pound Appling claimed to be mentally ill, and asked Franco to make his report more interesting so the report would make the police blotter. Franco noted in his report that despite the claims, she seemed to know what was going on.

She also said that "store personnel shouldn't chase people like that because they could get themselves hurt."

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