A woman confronted and accused of shoplifting in the Warner Robins Wal-Mart store fled into the parking lot on foot Wednesday - leaving her 8-month-old baby in a shopping cart in the store.
But the woman returned once she realized that she didn't have the child, Warner Robins patrol officer Stephen Grubbs said.
"She took off running across the parking lot and realized she didn't have her baby. So she came back," Grubbs said. "She probably just fled out of fear."
The woman - Britany Chester, 20, of Warner Robins - was charged only with misdemeanor shoplifting, Grubbs said. She could have faced a child abandonment charge had she not returned immediately, Grubbs said.
Chester was arrested, transported to the city police station and later released on bond, Grubbs said. The child was released to a relative at the store, Grubbs said.
Bran Patterson, a loss prevention officer at Wal-Mart, said he confronted the woman in a foyer of the store on Watson Boulevard sometime between 9:30 and 10 a.m. The woman ran outside, leaving the baby boy in a car seat in the top part of the shopping cart, Patterson said.
"He had a pacifier in his mouth, and he was sucking on it," Patterson said. "He was just smiling."
Patterson said he did not give chase but stayed with the baby. He said he was confident the woman would return and within two or three minutes she did, walking up to him and asking for her baby.
Another woman, who was not identified, also ran out of the store with Chester, but Patterson said he did not suspect that the other woman was shoplifting.
Patterson said he saw Chester place about $85 worth of women's clothing into the baby's diaper bag. When Grubbs arrived, he said Chester was "a little bit upset, but she wasn't crying. ... She really didn't have a lot to say," Grubbs said.