A police officer is attended to in an ambulance after being pepper sprayed on Tuesday. (Michael Ares /Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A police officer is attended to in an ambulance after being pepper sprayed on Tuesday. (Michael Ares /Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Alleged Union Square shoplifters arrested after fight with police

A pair of alleged shoplifters were in police custody Tuesday after a brief fight with police outside of a Union Square retailer.

Police responded to the Forever 21 at 1 Powell Street near the cable car turnaround at 6:21 p.m. Tuesday to reports of a shoplifting in progress, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

Store security had called police to report at least two young women “going around the store, grabbing things, and trying to walk out,” Manfredi said.

When police arrived and attempted to detain one of the suspects, the second suspect “decided to assault the officer,” he said.

Witnesses at the scene said that at least one of the suspects – a black female juvenile – and one of the officers were pepper-sprayed.

One officer appeared to be receiving treatment from responding firefighters in the back of an ambulance for apparent exposure to pepper spray.

As of Tuesday evening, police reported two black female juveniles in custody on suspicion of attempted theft and battery on a police officer.

The situation bears a strong resemblance to crimes committed by the so-called “Rainbow Girls,” a collection of black women in their teens and early 20s known for walking into high-end Union Square retailers and walking out with expensive items in hand before police can arrive.

The Rainbow Girls are known for theft from high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus and Arthur Beren Shoes rather than a relatively inexpensive store like Forever 21, which was having a 20 percent off sale on Tuesday.

Police could not say if the suspects arrested Tuesday had any connection to the Rainbow Girls, “but it sure is a similar m.o.,” Manfredi said.CrimeForever 21Pepper spraySan Francisco Police DepartmentShoplifting

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