An Avant Garb employee suspected the woman had stolen clothing and found her hiding next door at Aedion, a snowboard shop.

A woman who stole four pairs of designer jeans from a downtown clothing store Wednesday turned the shoplifting misdemeanor into a felony robbery when she forcefully shoved an employee as she made her escape.

The woman stole the jeans from Avant Garb, 397 E. Main St., at 10:29 a.m., said Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness.

She is described as about 35 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 145 pounds. Her hair was in a ponytail when she was last seen running north on North Second Street.

The robbery occurred after the woman had taken several pairs of designer jeans into the dressing room at the clothing store. Minutes later, she quickly walked out of the store.

An Avant Garb employee suspected the woman had stolen clothing and found her hiding next door at Aedion, a snowboard shop.

The employee confronted the woman and the suspect "shoved her backward with both hands in the chest," Holderness said.

The employee did not appear to have been injured, he said.

The thief fled the scene on foot. Police conducted a sweep of the area but were unable to locate her, Holderness said.

"We don't have any leads," he said. "She got away and we don't have anything on her right now."

A theft turns into a strong-arm robbery when force is used, Holderness said.

Although it's not uncommon for shoplifting cases to turn into robberies, in Ashland there are typically only about two such cases per year, he said.

"It's a shoplift gone bad if you run away with the property and as you're trying to get away you fight with person trying to stop you," he said.

Last year there were 98 reports of shoplifting in Ashland, Holderness said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.