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Police: Candle thief used bear mace on Florida mall patrons

Some people had to be taken to the hospital after being sprayed. The man has not been identified or caught.
FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2011 file photo, shoppers stop to look at a display while shopping at Dadeland Mall, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — A Florida man stole candles from a mall store and sprayed dozens of patrons with bear mace repellent before escaping, police said.

Investigators say the theft happened Saturday afternoon at a Bath and Body Works store in a mall in the Doral suburb west of Miami. 

The unidentified man entered the store, filled a bag with candles and then started spraying people with mace. 

About 35 people were affected, with some taken to a hospital for treatment. The Miami Herald reports the store manager had to be taken to the emergency room after being directly hit by the spray. 

A police spokesperson said the woman had trouble breathing and her injury was serious but not life-threatening.

A portion of the mall was evacuated Saturday. 

“This is an only in Miami story,” Doral Police Spokesperson Rey Valdes told the Miami Herald. “You can’t make this up.”

Police say the suspected thief, who got away in a yellow cab, could face numerous armed robbery and aggravated battery charges once arrested.

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