Crime

Shoplifters used arson to thwart Oak Park Mall security: charges

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It was the acrid smell of burnt plastic that gave them away.

Two alleged shoplifters are charged with arson, accused of burning off anti-theft sensors attached to clothing at department stores in Oak Park Mall.

Jamesha Baskin, 19, of Olathe, and Miracle Williams, 18, of Overland Park, are each charged in Johnson County District Court with felony theft and two counts of arson.

The charges allege that they used fire to damage the anti-theft devices on Sunday at Macy’s and JC Penney stores in the mall.

The devices are designed to trigger an alarm if someone tries to take clothing out of a store with the devices attached.

The theft charge alleges that the two stole merchandise from three different stores in a 72-hour period.

After store employees noticed a burning smell coming from the fitting room area, they contacted Overland Park police, who arrested the women.

Overland Park Police Detective Byron Pierce said it was the first time people have been caught at the mall using flames to melt off the plastic pins that attache the sensors to clothing.

He said it is a potentially dangerous crime because some clothing items could be left smoldering and present a fire hazard.

“Not very good judgment,” Pierce said.

Both women made their initial court appearances Monday. If they post bond, a judge ordered them to stay off of Oak Park Mall property.

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