AUGUSTA — A shopper seen on surveillance video Tuesday throwing numerous items into a cart at the Augusta Walmart without checking the prices triggered the attention of loss prevention personnel, authorities said.

When the woman then pushed the full cart past the registers without stopping to pay for anything, two theft prevention workers stopped her.

The woman, Ruth Higginbotham, 28, of Skowhegan, now faces a felony-level charge of theft by unauthorized taking for allegedly trying to sneak out of the store without paying for about $1,500 worth of merchandise.

The details of the incident are contained in an affidavit filed by Augusta police Officer Donald Cowles at the Capital Judicial Center. Cowles said the value of the 103 items in the cart totaled $1,525.

Cowles said he was dispatched to the store about 3 p.m. Tuesday, talked with loss prevention personnel and then spoke to Higginbotham.

“Ruth was visibly upset, crying and yelling that she needed to call her boyfriend,” Cowles wrote, adding that Higginbotham “said she was pushed while trying to leave.”

Higginbotham was arrested and taken to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta. On Wednesday, she made an initial appearance at the court via video from the jail to hear a judge set bail at $750 cash with a condition that prohibits Higginbotham from returning to any Walmart.

Assistant District Attorney Carie James had asked for bail to be set at $1,000 cash, saying Higginbotham faces a pending theft charge from Walmart in Skowhegan and has been convicted of thefts, violating condition of release and a drug charge.

“She is a threat to the community; she continues to steal from the community,” James told the judge.

Attorney Elizabeth Gray, serving as lawyer of the day, said $1,000 cash is “effectively giving her no bail.”

She said Higginbotham is unemployed except for sporadic house-cleaning jobs and takes care of her boyfriend’s child. “They’re all behind on bills,” Gray said. She suggested a personal recognizance bail with a Maine Pretrial Services supervision contract.

“She’s been on it and she’s done well,” Gray said, adding, “There’s no reason to hold someone pending trial when she is not a threat to the community.

Judge Cynthia Montgomery denied the defense request, saying, “I do have concerns about the threat Ms. Higginbotham poses to the community with regard to theft.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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