On the evening of Wednesday, December 14th, 2016, Atwater Police responded to the Envy clothing store located at 1648 Bell Drive in Atwater near the SR-99 highway to a report of shoplifters fighting with store employees. Responding officers were updated while en route to the location that the female store owner had resorted to obtaining her firearm in an attempt to detain the shoplifters. Once officers arrived they found a male employee fighting with a female on the ground outside and the store owner brandishing a firearm in their direction. Officer Radke directed the owner to secure her weapon and he was able to detain one of the female suspects in handcuffs. As Officer Pitney and Officer Lee arrived to assist, Officer Radke then located a male patron inside of the store holding another female suspect down on the ground.
Officer Radke was able to also detain her in handcuffs. Two other female adults were located seated inside of a silver Ford Focus parked in the parking lot. All four females were later seen on store surveillance video entering and exiting the store, one of which was seen placing merchandise into a bag that she brought into the store and one seen shoving the male employee on their way out of the store. During an inventory search of the vehicle subsequent to arrest, merchandise was found that was determined to have been stolen from other Atwater stores to include Rue 21, Marshalls, Big Five and Styles clothing as well as merchandise that was taken from stores inside of the Merced Mall. Through questioning it was learned that the females arrested had driven to Merced and Atwater from Fresno after conspiring to commit the thefts. After a thorough investigation it was determined that the total amount of stolen property from all of the stores totalled over $2000.00.
The four arrested are all Fresno residents and were identified as Viola Hilliard (25 years), Aisha Booth (20 years), Akeria Dews (24 years) and Denisha Hollins (23 years). All were booked into the Merced County Jail on charges of Robbery, Burglary and Conspiracy. One of the officers reported that, upon being booked, two of the females stated they felt that they should have only received citations in lieu of being booked citing “new laws” with regard to shoplifting and the fact that they have friends who “steal all the time” and only receive citations to appear in court.