Local Mother Arrested for Stealing at Publix While Leaving Young Son in the Car
A recent News4Jax report gives details into the arrest of Lindsay Pence for Petit Theft and Child Neglect. St. Johns County Deputies were first dispatched to a Publix parking lot based on a 911 call for an unattended boy in a car. A review of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office report gives greater details into the criminal episode.
The Deputies located Pence’s six year old son inside of a honda civic, with the vehicle running, and all of the doors unlocked. Pence exited the store ad came in contact with Deputies at her car. Pence stated that the child had been crying and “she did not want to deal with the issue inside of the store.” It is common during child neglect investigations for law enforcement to establish a time line. How long a child is left unattended is an important fact for the future prosecution cases similar to Mrs. Pence. To establish how long Mrs. Pence left her six year old son unattended the Deputies simply went inside of Publix to review the security camera footage.
A review of the cameras revealed that Mrs. Pence was inside of Publix for close to thirty minutes. For thirty minutes, a six year old sat in a motor vehicle alone, with the doors unlocked and the motor running. At any moment the vehicle could have been stolen, the young child kidnapped, or worse. It was concerning enough for a passerby, likely another Publix shopper, to alert Law Enforcement to the situation. Unfortunately for Mrs. Pence, the camera footage also revealed evidence of an additional crime.
While inside of the store Mrs. Pence also committed the crime of Petit Theft, commonly referred to as stealing. The camera footage showed that Mrs. Pence took out a Publix shopping bag she had in her possession and placed several items inside of the bag while walking around the store. Pence then exited the store, past all points of sale without paying for the items. The total amount of stolen items totaled $33.88. The items listed as stolen in the Police Report are certainly an unusual combination. Deodorant, watermelon chunks, salmon sushi, and Kingsford charcoal are all listed as items recovered from Pence.
It is not clear whether Publix would have ever discovered that Pence had stolen from their store if the Deputies had not reviewed the security footage to gather evidence during the child neglect investigation.
The Charges Pence Faces
Pence was arrested for Child Neglect and Petit Theft. The State Attorney’s Office added an additional count of “Unattended Child in a Motor Vehicle in Excess of Fifteen Minutes.”
Florida State Statute Chapter 827 deals with the abuse of children. Included in this chapter are the definitions of crimes such as Aggravated Child Abuse, Child Abuse, and Child Neglect. Neglect of a child is defined as a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or a caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
To prove the neglect charge clearly the State of Florida will rely on the 911 caller to describe what the caller saw, the condition of the child, that no one was around, and that it was alarming enough to call 911. The Deputies would next testify to the time the child was left alone based on the security footage. The Child Neglect charge Pence faces is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in the Florida State Prison. Continue reading