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Thief pepper-sprayed Burlington Coat Factory employees, police say

A 21-year-old Valley View woman was arrested Thursday evening at Burlington Coat Factory after she reportedly used pepper spray on loss prevention officials, Burbank police said.

At about 6:15 p.m., Ashley Hawelu was in custody with loss prevention officers at the downtown store for allegedly attempting to steal clothing and undergarments, Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.

“The suspect was not restrained in the detention room [and] prior to BPD’s arrival, loss prevention officers went in to [the room] to complete the report and were sprayed with a personal pepper spray that the suspect had in her purse,” Ryburn said.

Police said the woman became combative and was restrained by loss prevention personnel and mall security until police arrived.


Burbank Fire Department personnel responded to treat the two loss prevention officers and the suspect for effects of the pepper spray exposure, Ryburn said.

Hawelu was arrested on suspicion of robbery and unlawful use of tear gas, Ryburn said. Her bail is set at $50,000.

-- Maria  Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @mariahsin