A 45-year-old Milwaukee man is accused of stealing liquor from Piggly Wiggly and hitting the store’s security officer with a stop sign when he tried to get away.

David Del Valle was charged Thursday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count of robbery with use of force and one misdemeanor count each of battery, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage to property. All counts are classified as repeat counts. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years, nine months in jail and/or up to $71,000 in fines.

According to the criminal complaint, Mount Pleasant police were called at 2:56 p.m. Wednesday to Piggly Wiggly, 5201 Washington Avenue, for a report of a theft turning violent. When officers arrived, the suspect – later identified as Del Valle – was being detained by store personnel.

Police say store security observed Del Valle stealing bottles of alcohol from the liquor department. After the defendant passed the last point of service without paying, the security officer confronted Del Valle. He initially said he’d return the bottles but then refused to accompany security back the office and instead smashed one of the bottles on the ground.

Though security managed to grab the other bottle, Del Valle ran into a door and broke it while he attempted to flee out the east doors, the complaint reads. When security caught up with the defendant, he dragged over a stop sign with a cement base and knocked it over onto security personnel, injuring their arm and ankle.

Officers say Del Valle also punched the security officer in the head before another store employee assisted in detaining the defendant until police arrived.

Online court records indicate Del Valle has a long history of theft convictions dating back to 1993. He was assigned a $7,500 cash bond at his initial appearance and will be back in court for a preliminary hearing Sept. 4.

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