South San Francisco Salvation Army robber pleads no contest

A man accused of assaulting the manager of a Salvation Army store in South San Francisco after he was caught shoplifting last summer is facing a four-year prison sentence after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Monday.

Career criminal Mark McCawley, 43, pleaded no contest to felony possession of stolen property, prosecutors said, along with an enhancement for having a prior felony conviction.

McCawley reportedly entered the store with his girlfriend, walked into a back room and started filling purses with merchandise, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Another accomplice waited in a car, police said.

McCawley punched the store manager when he was confronted about the merchandise, then attempted to flee, Wagstaffe said. But two customers reportedly intervened, holding McCawley down while others called police.

McCawley’s girlfriend tried to free him by choking the store manager, police said, but then she gave up and fled with the woman who was waiting in the car. McCawley was subsequently arrested.

Police said the whole ordeal could have been avoided because the store manger had asked McCawley to “stop and merely return the items.”

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