Two women were arrested over the weekend for stealing nearly $150 worth of beer from local grocery stores and attempting to take even more, police said.
"They were pretty desperate for beer and liquor," said Lt. Chris Jacobsen of the Lodi Police Department. "I don't know if they were selling it, having a party or just stocking up."
Cynthia Lopez, 36, and Gloria Escalante, 23, entered the S-Mart grocery store at 610 West Kettleman Lane with Lopez's two-year-old son and placed four 30-can packs of Budweiser in a grocery cart. They made an attempt to remove it from the store but were stopped by a courtesy clerk, police said. The pair scooped up the child and left the parking lot immediately.
Katherine Fisher of Tracy was making her store rounds as a reco representative for Crossmark, checking the dates on Land O Lakes products, when she saw the commotion at the front of the store. She decided to keep her eye out for the pair through the rest of her workday.
The store manager took note of the two women, especially that Escalante was wearing a bright pink tank top, and called the Lodi Avenue S-Mart store to give them a heads-up.
Fisher also stopped by that store and mentioned the attempt to those managers.
Meanwhile, the suspects had moved on to Safeway, at 2449 West Kettleman Lane, where they stole one 18-pack and two 30-packs of Budweiser, police said. They tried to push the cart to their car, but it became stuck in the door, according to surveillance videos, so they grabbed the beer and the child, and ran.
Escalante, Lopez and her son next went to Raley's at 311 Lower Sacramento Road.
They were in the beer aisle, loading up a car with three 30-packs of Budweiser and two bottles of Hpnotiq, a vodka-based liquor.
Fisher entered Raley's and made her way down the beer aisle, passing the two women on her way to the butter section. Job complete, Fisher was about to leave the store when she realized the two women looked familiar, and had an awful lot of beer in their cart.
"I just thought, 'I bet you that was them,' and I turned around. But they weren't in the aisle anymore," said Fisher.
Escalante was pushing the cart out the door while Lopez kept watch. Both left the store with no questions. Fisher then attempted to alert a nearby cashier that the store was being robbed and followed the women outside.
She followed the women to their car and confronted them about the theft. Escalante immediately ran into the vineyards behind the store. Store employees came to the parking lot and the police were called.
Lopez was arrested on site and her child placed with family members.
Escalante was arrested at home the next day after she was identified through surveillance video from Safeway and S-Mart Foods.
"I'm kind of surprised I wasn't arrested yesterday," said Escalante when officers took her into custody.
Shoplifting is common, but not usually in this volume, said Jacobsen.
In total, police said, the women stole five 30-packs of beer, one 18-pack of beer and two bottles of liquor, totaling $148.
Both women are charged with three counts of burglary, three counts of conspiracy to commit a felony, and one count of child engagement.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.