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Shoplifter triggers chaotic chase for Mich. police

The Associated Press

SAGINAW, Mich. — A suspected shoplifter at a Saginaw clothing store triggered a chaotic pursuit that led workers to a bizarre conclusion: They were being robbed by the police.

Police officials said the momentary misidentification happened Thursday when a suspected shoplifter bolted from a TJ Maxx store in Saginaw, with clothes stuffed into his pants. When the suspect reached the parking lot, police said, he was confronted by undercover officers who had been conducting a shoplifting stakeout.

"He ran back inside, one of our officers followed him," Saginaw Township Police Chief Donald F. Pussehl Jr. told The Saginaw News for a Saturday story. "He tried to take his clothes out of his pants, and the officer yelled, 'Get down, get down.'"

And confusion ensued.

Store workers scattered, believing the plainclothes officer entering the store was a robbery suspect. A subsequent 911 call then prompted police dispatch to send assistance for what was believed to be a robbery in progress.

Pussehl said an alert police sergeant heard the errant call and canceled it after only a few minutes of confusion.

The suspect was apprehended. No one was hurt.

Officials said state police officers and Saginaw County sheriff's deputies were conducting the stakeout to combat thefts from Kohl's and Fashion Square Mall stores. The sting Thursday netted 10 suspects.

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