VIDEO: Suspects steal gift cards, put employee in chokehold at Winter Haven Home Depot

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A search is underway for two strong-armed robbery suspects in Polk County, accused of putting a Home Depot and putting an employee in a chokehold.  

Detectives are asking for the public’s help to find 18-year-old Omar McCrae and 19-year-old Malik Taylor, both of Tampa.

On Thursday, the two went into the Winter Haven Home Depot and tried to steal gift cards in a self-checkout lane. When employees confronted them, deputies say McCrae put a 69-year-old female clerk in a chokehold while another unidentified suspect scanned and activated the gift cards.

“We definitely want to get them into custody before they seriously injure somebody,” Polk County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Carrie Horstman said.

Deputies say the same suspects went into the Lakeland Home Depot back in June and stole hundreds of dollars worth of MasterCard and American Express gift cards in the self-checkout lane. When a 73-year-old employee confronted them, they got aggressive and ran from the store.

That victim spoke with News Channel 8. “I’m still I’m still a little shaken about it even though it was a couple weeks ago,” said Shirley West. “They did snatch the keyboard out of my hand, that was a little scary. It knocked me off balance.”

Malik Taylor was arrested earlier this year for snatching gift cards and pushing a clerk at the Zephyrhills Home Depot.

They both have criminal histories in Hillsborough County:

Omar has previous charges of prostitution, grand theft, petit theft, resisting arrest, giving a false name to LEO, attempting to use another’s ID, and failure to appear.

Malik has 60 previous felonies and 29 previous misdemeanors, including aggravated assault w/deadly weapon, robbery, fraud, battery, forgery, resisting arrest, fleeing to elude, burglary, petit theft, criminal mischief, and trespassing.

West just wants them behind bars, and her piece of mind back. “I hope they catch them real soon,” she said.

Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.

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