Fred Meyer employee chased, repeatedly pepper-sprayed by shoplifter, police say

SEATTLE — A woman with a history of repeatedly shoplifting at a Lake City Fred Meyer chased a loss prevention officer through the store while pepper spraying him after she was caught with stolen property, Seattle police say.

Rainy Kathryn Griffin, 51, has been charged with second-degree robbery in the incident. Police say much of the attack was recorded by surveillance cameras.

According to the loss prevention officer who was the victim, Griffin has been involved in 37 incidents at the store since 2015, according to a preliminary list.

On Feb. 22, Griffin, who was well known to the victim, was seen putting numerous items into a bag and then walking out of the store without paying, police documents say.

The loss prevention officer then approached Griffin and asked her return to the store to discuss unpaid merchandise she had in the bag.  She refused but agreed to give him the bag of unpaid merchandise.  She then demanded the bag back, saying her phone was in it.

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When the loss prevention officer said she could access the bag after police arrived, she began threatening to pepper spray him if he didn’t give it back. When the loss prevention officer tried to walk back inside, she pepper-sprayed him while struggling to take the bag back, police say.

Surveillance video showed her holding the spray when she reentered the story, following the loss prevention officer.

As the loss prevention officer tried to get away from Griffin, she followed him through the store, screaming, knocking merchandise over and repeatedly pepper-spraying him, with many of the sprays hitting him in the face and head, a Seattle police investigation report said.

The loss prevention officer was finally able to escape down some stairs to the loss prevention office.

According to timestamps on surveillance footage, the attack of repeated pepper spraying lasted about 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Griffin then was seen on surveillance moving to a table, knocking some items off and then appeared to place an item under her right arm. Police say she then walked toward the exit, grabbed a green jacket off a rack and exited the store without paying, according to the police report.

Griffin was not located that night but was arrested by Seattle police on Feb. 26 in an unrelated burglary.

Griffin was wearing a green jacket that was at first put with her property when she was booked into the King County Jail. It was later seized as evidence in the Feb. 22 robbery.  The jacket, which is Fred Meyer’s Dip brand, is the same kind located near the exit of the Fred Meyer store where Griffin was seen on surveillance, the victim said.

Prosecutors asked that Griffin be held on $100,000 bail because of the violent nature of the robbery, her criminal history, and 36 warrants for failing to appear in court.

Her criminal history includes convictions for assault, criminal trespass, theft, DUI and others.