CORALVILLE — Coralville police are working to determine if two separate thefts at Von Maur — including one that escalated into a robbery — are related.
“Two separate incidents, two separate cars, but either one heck of a coincidence or they are together,” Coralville Police Chief Shane Kron said.
According to Coralville police criminal complaints, Dashay S. Rencher, 25, of Chicago, and a juvenile were “actively shoplifting” at 3:17 p.m. Tuesday from the store at 115 Iowa River Landing Place.
When confronted by store staff, Rencher allegedly pulled out pepper spray and threatened the employee.
Police said Rencher and the juvenile then knocked the employee to the ground and continued to assault him before retrieving the stolen items and fleeing, police said.
Rencher got into a vehicle with the juvenile and refused to stop when met by a marked police vehicle, police said. She sped away, cut off numerous vehicles and passed vehicles on the shoulder. Kron said Coralville police called off their chase, but Rencher and the juvenile were caught by the Iowa State Patrol.
An hour later, at 4:21 p.m., Coralville police again were called to Von Maur.
This time, loss prevention staff said a woman — later identified as Tishana O. McDade, 28, of Cedar Rapids — had passed a fraudulent check for $1,311.22 and left the store with merchandise. Von Maur staff also told police McDade appeared to be the same woman who committed a similar theft at the Cedar Rapids Von Maur.
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McDade, when stopped, initially gave police false information about her identity. Police said McDade admitted to passing fraudulent checks at the Coralville and Cedar Rapids Von Maur stores.
Kron said police are continuing to investigate both incidents to determine if Rencher and McDade are affiliated.
“We are certainly looking into the tie,” he said. “It would be one heck of a coincidence if both of them were up in Cedar Rapids doing the same thing and now they’re in Coralville together. We don’t have a connection yet, but we’re certainly looking at it.”
Kron said organized theft rings will work in a “circuit” and hit different locations of the same store. He said when the Coralville Von Maur sees a shoplifting incident, it’s common to hear that its Cedar Rapids and Waterloo locations were hit, too.
“They’re organized, and they’ve essentially turned it into a location,” he said. “They’re just hitting stores on a circuit. ... We do see that they tend to have a favorite (business), for lack of a better term.”
Rencher faces charges of second-degree robbery, eluding, reckless driving, fifth-degree theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
McDade faces charges of forgery, third-degree theft and providing false information.
Kron said the juvenile — who is not identified in the criminal complaints — also is in custody.
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