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Family turns in alleged shoplifter, Kenia Lee, who jumped into pond near University Mall

1:50 PM, Dec 11, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- UPDATE: The woman deemed the "runaway shoplifter", who deputies say took off into a pond when they tried to arrest her, is now in jail.

Kenia Lee was turned in to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office by relatives late Tuesday night.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office temporarily suspended its search for a suspected shoplifter who jumped into a pond outside University Mall and never resurfaced Tuesday evening.

The sheriff's office says it received a 911 call about a fight in the parking lot at the mall just after 4:30 p.m.

Two plain clothes loss prevention employees from the Sears store had allegedly apprehended a suspect they say was stealing children's clothing.

The unidentified black female in her late teens to early twenties fled from the officers on foot. The loss prevention employees reportedly followed her to a retention pond approximately 100 yards from the store. They say she ran into the pond and waded into the water about chest deep.

The employees turned away from the suspect for a moment. When they looked back, they say they lost sight of her. They told deputies they don't know if the woman went under water involuntarily or if she simply managed to hide herself and get back to shore and escape.

All this, deputies tell 10 News, was over less than $300 worth of clothing.

A dive team did an extensive underwater search and rescue operation, but the woman was not located.

"She must have headed toward the shoreline," said Larry McKinnon from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office Tuesday night. "We think she met up with a car waiting."

On Wednesday, the sheriff's office said several family members say Lee's picture on television and called police. Her family then escorted her to the Patrol District 1 Office  where she turned herself in.

The sheriff's office said it will petition the court system for Lee to pay $5,000 to cover the investigative cost of the incident.

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