Woman riding mobility scooter 'began to run' when approached for shoplifting, police say

Woman riding mobility scooter ‘began to run’ when approached for shoplifting, police say

(As originally published with additional photos, Wed, February 14th 2024)

LADY LAKE, Fla. (TND) — The call from Home Depot to police was about “a theft in progress” and the suspect was described as “a heavy-set female … in a mobility scooter going throughout the store.”

The suspect from last Thursday, Feb. 8, in Florida had a few priors and she wasn’t going to stay in the scooter.

The arrest report said she “entered aisle 6 of the store and grabbed a Bluetooth speaker valued at $29.97.

“The female placed the speaker in the front of the store-provided mobility cart.

“The female then proceeded to the outdoor garden area of the store and placed the speaker in her purse.

“The female then proceeded to the checkout area and paid for other items, but not the item concealed in her purse.”

Apparently, it wouldn’t be the only item.

A loss prevention officer approached her outside and “asked for the stolen merchandise to be handed over, at which time she removed the speaker and an electrical socket valued at $2.65, and handed it over.

“The female was asked by loss prevention to come back into the store to complete paperwork for the theft, at which time she refused and jumped off the mobility scooter and began to run towards a vehicle in the parking lot.”

The arrest report said she got inside that vehicle which “proceeded to pull away,” and a police officer “conducted a traffic stop in the parking lot.”

Woman riding mobility scooter 'began to run' when approached for shoplifting, police say
Booking photos show Violet Rose Gardner before she spent months in Marion County Jail in (from left) 2007, 2008, and 2017, and after her arrest on familiar charges, Feb. 8, 2024. (Lake Co. Sheriff’s Office)

According to the arrest report, “The driver stated her friend asked her for a ride to the Home Depot and came back to the car nervous, and said to leave.

“The driver stated she was unaware that her friend was stealing and immediately stopped when loss prevention and police advised her to.

“The female involved in the theft was then detained and identified as Violet Gardener.

“Violet was uncooperative.”

The store intended to prosecute for the items valued at $32.62, and it wouldn’t be the first time.

According to the arrest report, Gardner had previous theft convictions around the area: in Lake County in 1989, Marion County in 2008, Lake County in 2013, Lake County in 2017, and Marion County in 2018.

This time, Gardner, 57, was charged with felony petit theft-three or more convictions and resisting a merchant.

She spent 18 hours in jail before her release in lieu of $3,500 bail.

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