Shoplifter Receives 15-Year Sentence

SATURDAY, SEPT. 27, 1997

A woman who stole four packages of undershirts was sentenced to 15 years in prison under the state’s new “two strikes, you’re out” law.

Under the law, offenders who commit a violent felony within three years of being released from state prison must serve the maximum penalty for the offense.

For Theresa Ann McKenzie - who has been arrested 18 times in the past 10 years - that meant a mandatory 15 years for stealing the undershirts. She was the first in Palm Beach County tried under the law, which took effect May 31.

McKenzie, 33, tried to walk out of a discount store in June with $20 worth of underwear sticking out of her purse. When stopped by the store manager, she shouted, “Let go or I’ll cut you,” a threat that led to the charge of robbery, a violent felony, rather than shoplifting.

She was convicted last month and sentenced Thursday.

She had been released from prison in October 1994 after serving four years for selling cocaine near a school.


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