Samantha Mia Benton, 32 is charged with fleeing a police officer and with theft, both felonies. She faces up to three years and a day in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted of fleeing a police officer and up to five years and a $10,000 fine if convicted of theft.
According to the complaint, the first incident occurred on Sept. 2, 2013. Loss prevention at a business in Eagan reported to police the theft of items valued at $396.07. The business is not named in the complaint.
Loss prevention told police that Benton and her 12-year-old daughter placed clothing and other items in a cart. Benton then left with her daughter without paying and refused to return the items when confronted. An investigator learned through surveillance video that Benton left the store in a white SUV.
On Dec. 24, Eagan police responded to a theft in progress at Walmart in Eagan. Benton fled the business before police arrived, but an officer spotted her vehicle at the intersection of Duckwood Drive and Pilot Knob Road. When the officer turned on his emergency lights, Benton “gassed” her vehicle and fled, according to the complaint.
Benton almost hit another vehicle as she fled in her SUV, the complaint states. Two Eagan police cars with sirens and lights activated followed her as she drove northbound on Interstate 35E. The chase lasted about seven minutes at speeds between 45 to 55 mph. At the end, an officer utilized the PIT maneuver to force the SUV to a stop.
Walmart loss prevention arrived at the scene and said that Benton was the one who stole items from the store. She was seen putting clothing in Walmart bags and when loss prevention tried to stop her as she left the store, she said “Have a Merry Christmas” and “gave them ‘the bird,’” according to the complaint.
Police found Walmart merchandise worth $758.62 in her car. Benton denied stealing the items.
Based on surveillance video, an Eagan investigator identified Benton, due to a distinct mark under her right eye, as appearing to be involved in both incidents. The total amount of stolen merchandise is worth $1,154.69.