EARLY — An off-duty Early police officer intervened in a shoplifting Saturday night at the JC Penney store in the Heartland Mall and prevented two people from driving away with 122 stolen items, police said.
    Other officers arrived and arrested Erica Chapa, 33, and Jeffery Smith, 33, on charges of felony theft, police and Brown County Jail records state.
    Jail records show the two with Brownwood addresses, but Early arrest reports indicate Abilene addresses and the two may be “back and forth” between the cities, Early Police Chief David Mercer said.
    According to an email from Early police:
    Officer Andre Smoot was shopping in the store around 7:15 p.m. when he heard a noise from the emergency exit door on the south side. Smoot saw a woman with a large armload of items exiting the building, and an employee yelled “she’s stealing stuff.”
    Smoot retrieved his badge and went after the woman. Once outside, Smoot saw a vehicle, driven by a man later identified as Smith, speeding up to the door to pick her up.
    As the woman, identified as Chapa, dove into the back seat, she apparently got hung up on the large bundle of items and was not able to get all the way inside the car, police said.
    The woman yelled at the man to “go, go.”
    The car was in danger of dragging the woman and Smoot, and Smoot drew his weapon and yelled for the man to stop and turn off the engine. The man complied.
    JC Penney employees had called 911, and back-up officers arrived and placed Chapa and Smith in custody.
    The stolen items were valued at $2,500, police said.
    Chapa was charged with a state jail felony Smith was charged with a third degree felony due to two previous theft convictions, police said.