An Austin woman has been charged with robbery by assault after police said she used children to steal merchandise at a Macy's department store.
Police said they responded to the Macy's at 3311 Esperanza Crossing on Nov. 12 after receiving reports that a group of suspects had taken multiple trips out of the store with merchandise they did not pay for.
An asset protection officer said she observed two adult females and four children between the ages of approximately 7 to 10 years old. The officer advised that she saw the children reenter the store on security camera, travel upstairs and meet with two adult females in the hotel bedding and pillow area of the store. The officer reported that she saw the adults point to some pillows, which the children then selected from the shelves and exited the store with.
Police said the asset protection officer later stopped the children, showed them her badge and the children complied with her commands to go back with her to the asset protection office. She reported the women then walked up to her and that one of them demanded the officer let the children go and she began pushing her.
At this point, police said the children and the other woman took off and the officer tried to grab them when the woman who told her to let the children go began punching her on the left side of her face, chest and arm. Police said she then tried to grab the woman to detain her, ripping off the woman's shirt in the process. The woman then allegedly took off, running out of the store wearing only a black bra.
Based on reports from a customer witness, police determined the suspect drove a white 2009 white Chevy Malibu. Police used the license plate number provided by the witness to determine that the vehicle was registered to a woman named Martha Lopez, 27.
Using that information, police determined that Lopez had an unpaid speeding ticket and an unpaid insurance ticket that turned into warrants. A booking photo of Lopez from a previous arrest was provided to the asset protection officer in a lineup, police said, and she positively identified her as one of the women involved in the alleged robbery.
Based on surveillance video, officials determined the merchandise handled by the group was worth in total about $2,600.