A shoplifter who fled on a bicycle and left a child in the store is in prison for trying to steal underwear during a Dollar General robbery.
When Tyler Adams shoved a package of underwear into his pocket at Dollar General, a store employee saw him and became confrontational — she walked up to him, snatched the package of underwear out of his pocket and then proceeded to lock the front door of the store.
Adams admitted this Monday during his plea and sentence hearing in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas.
According to Washington Court House Police, the incident occurred July 10 at the Dollar General at 1850 Columbus Ave.
Karen Smith, a Dollar General employee, reportedly confronted 27-year-old Adams and locked the front door of the store. She and another employee, Patricia Shoemaker, stood in front of the locked front door to try to prevent Adams from leaving before police arrived.
Adams did leave the store after reaching around Smith and Shoemaker and unlocking the door. According to the court records, one of the store employees pushed Adams away from the door, but he shoved the employee out of the way and fled on a bicycle. He left behind an 8-year-old child he had brought into the store with him. Adams was not the parent of the child.
“He’s a really great guy. Yeah, he’s had his problems, he had a little drug thing and we were trying to help get him out of it,” said the 8-year-old’s father, Sean Antis. He said Adams had always been helpful to the family — he’d taught their 8-year-old son, Dillon, to ride a bike and took him out riding on the path every couple of days and there had never been a problem. “I guess maybe he was doing some things behind our back.”
Antis said after Adams fled the Dollar General store on the bicycle, he rode to their house and told them that their son, 8-year-old Dillon, had been locked in the store and was still there.
“I got extremely irate, I got kind of emotional” said Antis. “When I got there, the cops were like, ‘Here’s your kid.’”
Antis said when he talked to the police at Dollar General they said Adams didn’t steal anything, so now he doesn’t understand how Adams was criminally charged for a package of underwear that he didn’t leave the store with, or how the store employees could lock people inside the store.
Adams was later charged and indicted by a Fayette County grand jury for robbery, a third-degree felony, and a misdemeanor for theft. He plead guilty Wednesday to robbery and agreed to serve a nine-month prison sentence for committing the offense. One-hundred-seven days of jail time credit was applied to the nine-month sentence for the days he already served in the Fayette County Jail.
Antis said it sounded like Adams got “railroaded” with the robbery charge. He said 8-year-old Dillon was traumatized from the experience of being locked in the store.
“If he didn’t steal anything, there’s shouldn’t have even been a theft. If someone accused me of stealing and would have locked the door on me, I would have body slammed her. I can see it happening in a bank, a jewelry store — but for a pair of underwear? No. You put your life on the line when you did that. When you did that, you went from a store clerk to a security guard or something like that…I don’t think it should have been — I mean, for a pack of underwear? Completely unnecessary,” said Antis.
Employees at the Columbus Avenue Dollar General declined to comment when asked if their standard procedure is to lock the front door when an offense occurs in the store.
Dollar General’s corporate office was not available for a comment as of press time.
The corporation has an extensive history of Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection violations for having blocked exits and locked doors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. OSHA regulations provide that a store must have at least two exit routes available in a workplace to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency, and an exit door must be unlocked.
No injuries were reported from the July 10 incident.
Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton