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'I Felt I Had A Duty': With Infant In Tow, Army Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva Helps Nab Mall Shoplifters

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Army Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva, who has done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped police nab suspected shoplifters -- all with his 10-month-old daughter by his side.

Inside Southdale Center on Sunday morning, Army recruiter Oliva saw four young men inside the Apple store.

"Apple's got a huge, front glass window, so by the time I, you know, got to the front of it I saw that they were just taking tons of merchandise off the shelves and just stacking it," Oliva said.

As the men walked out, he could hear employees say stop. Oliva was pushing his 10-month-old daughter Zoe in a stroller. But he knew he needed to act.

"Being a soldier, you know, I learned the Army values and they're super important to me, and at that point I felt like I had a duty, which is part of the Army values to act," Oliva said.

He said he walked briskly with Zoe, not letting on the suspected thieves were being tailed.

Army Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva
Army Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva (credit: CBS)

"I followed from a safe distance because I didn't want to put her in harm's way or any other civilians. I didn't know if these guys had weapons they were, you know, willing to use if they got caught," Oliva said.

Nearing the door, he saw a family he knew and they looked after Zoe while he and another man ran to the parking lot.

Oliva said the suspected thieves dropped merchandise and he was able to get pictures of them and their car. And when they took off, he ran after the car. Then alerted Edina police as a squad rolled into the lot.

"They turned on their lights and sirens and started pursuing them, and another Edina police officer cut them off and it was pretty much over before they got out of the parking lot," Oliva said.

Police arrested four men, ages 19 to 21, for felony shoplifting. One of them was also arrested for fleeing police.

"To me, I had a duty to intervene because nobody else could," Oliva said.

If you think someone is shoplifting, Edina police say do not approach them. Instead, call 911 and provide as many details as you can.

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