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Woman arrested at Target found not guilty of theft

She was stopped after rolling cart with unpurchased items past registers

WAILUKU — A woman who said she wasn’t intending to steal when she wheeled a shopping cart full of merchandise past cash registers without paying was acquitted of a shoplifting charge.

A 2nd Circuit Court jury returned the verdict Monday, finding Sara Rollins not guilty of third-degree theft.

Rollins, 38, was arrested Jan. 27, 2020, after Target security specialists saw her passing electronic surveillance towers at the exit of the Kahului store with the cart containing 16 items valued at nearly $430, according to testimony at her trial last week.

Witnesses described “red flags” in her behavior, including her rapid selection of toys and leaving the filled cart in the girls section while she went outside and smoked before she returned inside, Deputy Prosecutor Leslee Matthews said during her closing arguments Friday.

She said Rollins retrieved the cart and passed 18 checkout lanes before taking the cart past the surveillance towers into the vestibule area just before the exit. “Witnesses testified this is your final point of no return,” Matthews said. “She thought the coast was clear to grab and go.”

A store security specialist, who had gone outside to wait for Rollins, detained her in the vestibule area, said Deputy Public Defender David Pullman.

He told jurors that Rollins was looking for gifts for her daughter’s birthday that day and knew what she planned to buy. When she realized she didn’t have enough cash to pay for the items, she first went to the automated teller machine in the store, then called her partner, Pullman said.

He said she stopped in the vestibule with the cart while waiting for her partner to show up with cash or a credit card.

Rollins “never wavered from her position that she was not intending to steal,” Pullman said.

“It has to be not guilty if it’s not proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said in closing arguments to jurors.

Rollins was retried last week after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict in the case in April.

Judge Blaine Kobayashi presided over the trial.

Court records show Rollins was placed on four years’ probation for two counts of second-degree forgery and third-degree theft in a 2018 case.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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