A beauty store employee tried to stop shoplifters. Now, she’s fighting for her life

A sign in a parking lot says "M Beauty."
An employee at the M Beauty store in Commerce was assaulted last week and remains hospitalized.
(Google Maps)

As a group of four women attempted to leave a beauty supply store in Southeast Los Angeles County with several stolen items in tow, their heist took a turn, officials say.

One of the employees at M Beauty in the City of Commerce attempted to block the doorway. That’s when one of the women attacked the worker, grabbing her and violently throwing her to the ground outside the shop, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The employee “fell to the ground headfirst causing her to lose consciousness,” the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on last week’s incident.


It wasn’t immediately clear from the store’s surveillance footage, however, when the woman lost consciousness. The video, reviewed by The Times, shows her tussling with a person who tosses her to the ground, after which she stands again before staggering and falling back to the asphalt, flat on her back.

VIDEO | 00:13
Surveillance footage from the M Beauty store

Surveillance footage from the M Beauty store in Commerce captured multiple people leaving the beauty store March 6

The 32-year-old employee is now fighting for her life, her family and boss said. The woman was not identified by her family, who said they were afraid for her safety but declined to elaborate. She remained unconscious for days after the March 6 incident, and suffered two heart attacks in its aftermath, family members and her boss said.

“My daughter is in a delicate state,” Enrique Sandoval, the employee’s father, told The Times in Spanish. “She opens her eyes and moves them from side to side, but that’s it.

“We’re devastated,” he said. “To see my daughter in this situation, in this state, I almost want to go crazy, but I need to be strong to keep going. ... May God help us to get our daughter through this.”

Sandoval said his daughter is currently in the intensive care unit, hooked up to a machine to help her heart keep pumping. His family has started a fundraiser for her medical care, which he expects will be extensive and probably require a heart transplant. According to a report from KTLA-TV Channel 5, the woman had prior heart issues.


“It’s very heartbreaking to see that this happened to her,” said Daniel Min, who owns and runs the M Beauty store with his parents. He said she had worked at the store on Whittier Boulevard for about five years, earning the title of assistant manager.

The raid by the California Highway Patrol is the latest effort by law enforcement agencies to respond to a spike in retail theft, including grab-and-dash crimes.

Dec. 21, 2023

Min said he did not know why she decided to try to intervene with the shoplifters last week but said that’s not something that’s expected of employees.

“I always tell them their health and safety are priority,” Min said. He said his teams had been directed to tell anyone stealing that they were being recorded and would be reported to police, but not to physically step in.

But he said he understood that it’s hard to watch thefts continue, seemingly without consequence, over and over.

“She’s been working with us for a long time; even our employees get sick and tired of all these people who steal,” Min said. “These people try to come in grab a bunch of stuff and run out. ... It happens everywhere, and I feel like it’s getting worse and worse.”

Sandoval said his daughter had urged the store to invest in more security, but Min said security guards also can often do little in the face of such thefts.


A woman wielding an ax was arrested at Jordan Tires on Friday morning, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Feb. 2, 2024

After this incident, though, Min says he is looking to hire a security guard, to ensure other employees feel safe.

“My daughter would make a comment to me that she had told the owner that they need some kind of security guard ... before something worse happened,” Sandoval said. “The owners are good people, but that doesn’t take away that he could have put a security guard there. Unfortunately, now we’re in this situation.”

No one has been arrested in this case, and the investigation is ongoing, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The suspects drove away from the store in a white sedan, and officials asked anyone with information to contact the East Los Angeles sheriff’s station detective bureau at (323) 264-4151.

Sandoval remained hopeful that those involved would be held responsible. He called his daughter a hard worker — both on the job and on behalf of her family. He said she had always dreamed of becoming a mother.

“If someone from the community knows anything or has seen anything related to this case, please notify the sheriff’s office,” Sandoval said, noting that people have the option to remain anonymous. “My family would be grateful to anyone who came forward.”