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Party City manager crawls into woman’s car window after cellphone stolen

Angered by the denial, the younger woman began pulling store items off shelves and throwing things around Party City on Monday night.
Angered by the denial, the younger woman began pulling store items off shelves and throwing things around Party City on Monday night. Courtesy of Emily Stephens

Desperate to regain her stolen cellphone, a store manager climbed through the window of a suspect’s car and fought with her and another woman as they drove down Rock Road, police said Tuesday.

The bizarre incident — which sounded more like a scene shot in Hollywood than a slice of real life — unfolded at about 8 p.m. Monday at the Party City store in the 3400 block of North Rock Road. The 40-year-old manager told police a 20-year-old woman came into the store asking for a refund for bracelets she bought there earlier in the day, Lt. James Espinoza said.

The manager refused, however, because the visitor did not have a receipt, and she suspected the woman had shoplifted the bracelets earlier in the day, Espinoza said. Angered by the denial, the younger woman began pulling store items off shelves and throwing things around the store.

She then left, but the manager went outside and used her personal cellphone to take a photograph of the license plate for the maroon 1983 Oldsmobile that the younger woman got into, Espinoza said. Seeing this, the younger woman got out of the car, hit the store manager and took her phone.

The store manager went after the younger woman, wrestling for the phone as the woman got into the passenger seat, Espinoza said. The store manager crawled in through the window and put the car in park as the driver attempted to flee. That stalled the car.

The driver started the engine again and drove south on Rock as the store manager continued to fight with the passenger for control of her phone, Espinoza said. She also reached over and put the car in park as the other woman drove, repeatedly stalling the vehicle.

“This occurred for several minutes,” Espinoza said.

At some point, the passenger threw the store manager’s cellphone out the window, he said. The driver turned right onto westbound K-96 and then pulled over to the side of the road. At that point, the manager grabbed the keys from the ignition and ran back to the store.

The two women abandoned their car and left the area on foot, Espinoza said. The store manager said both women were black and in their 20s.

One is about 5-feet-6 with large build. She was wearing a purple jumpsuit. The second suspect is about 5-feet-4 with a medium build. She wore gray pants and a gray shirt.

Chasing after suspects for a stolen cellphone is “probably not a good idea,” Espinoza said. “We are talking about a cellphone.

“We ask people to call police and not jump into cars.”

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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