A Randolph woman was arrested Saturday morning after she allegedly tried to steal a backpack full of items from a store in Gardiner, then damaged a police cruiser and injured herself as an officer took her to jail.

Police arrested Karen Marie Rowe, 53, at the Family Dollar store on Water Street. They first responded to the store around 10:07 a.m. on Saturday, after an employee called to report shoplifting.

When an officer confronted Rowe, she allegedly refused to let him inspect a backpack that was full of items from the store, according to court documents. Then, as police brought Rowe to Kennebec County jail, they allege that she had to be physically restrained and that she damaged a police cruiser.

On Monday, prosecutors filed a complaint charging Rowe with aggravated criminal mischief, a felony, along with two misdemeanors, refusing to submit to arrest and theft by unauthorized taking. She is being held at the jail in lieu of $500 bail.

It was the second time in less than two years that Rowe was arrested under similar circumstances. In April 2017, police charged her with theft by unauthorized taking, refusing to submit to arrest and failing to provide correct identifying information after theft was reported on Water Street. It was not immediately clear Monday whether those earlier charges have been adjudicated, as staff of the Capital Judicial Center were busy in the afternoon and unable to share Rowe’s 2017 court file.

The Gardiner police officer who arrested her over the weekend was aware of that history. “I know Rowe from a previous contact during which she engaged in nearly identical activity,” Officer Samuel Quintana said in the affidavit.

After confronting Rowe at the Family Dollar, Quintana said that she allegedly prevented him from inspecting the items in her bag, despite him telling her to stop.

“Rowe began escalating,” Quintana said. “… At that time, I felt that Rowe was not going to cooperate with my investigation. Out of concern that she would eventually (create) an unsafe situation during my investigation, I decided to restrain her for the rest of the investigation for her safety and mine. I grabbed Rowe’s arm and placed it in a ‘chicken wing’ position behind her back. Rowe began actively resisting and I took her to the ground where I instructed her to get on her stomach and give me her hands.”

When Quintana drove Rowe to the hospital, he alleged that she continued to put up a fight, kicking at the doors and trying to pry open the protective plastic partition between the front and back seats. She did so much damage to the car, that afterwards, the driver’s side rear door handle was inoperable, the passenger side handle was ripped off the door, and parts of the plastic partition were cracked, according to Quintana.

At one point along the drive, Quintana allegedly had to stop the cruiser and again restrain Rowe on the ground so that he could calm her and handcuff her wrists, he said.

During that restraint, “she began screaming and yelling that she could not breathe, that she did not steal, and that she needed to get home to her babies,” Quintana said.

When Quintana arrived at the jail, he said, he saw that Rowe had scrapes and cuts on her legs.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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