Police: 2 arrested for allegedly stealing 122 items from JC Penney in Early

Jeffrey Smith, 33, and Erika Chapa, 33, both of Abilene, were arrested during April 2017 for allegedly stealing items from JC Penney at Heartland Mall in Early.

EARLY, Texas -- An off-duty officer shopping at Heartland Mall in Early jumped into action over the weekend when he witnessed a theft in progress and arrested two Abilene residents.

Officer Andre Smoot was at JC Penney on Saturday when he heard noise from an emergency exit and spotted Erika Chapa, 33, with a large arm load of items leaving the store, according to Early Police Chief David Mercer.

An employee yelled that Chapa was "stealing stuff," police said.

Mercer said Smoot chased the woman and saw a vehicle being driven by Jeffrey Smith, 33, pull up to the door to pick her up.

According to police, Chapa jumped into the car's backseat but couldn't get all the way in because of the items.

The officer reportedly heard Chapa telling Smith to "go."

Officer Smoot drew his weapon and told Smith to turn the car off, which he did.

Mercer said the Abilene couple stole 122 items from the JC Penney store totaling $2,500.

Smith and Chapa are both jailed on $15,000 bond each, according to the Brown County Jail's website.

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