BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A quick pit-stop at a Titusville CVS turned into panic for a woman who found herself locked inside.
Lillian Rimmel, an Orlando resident in town to visit a friend, said she stopped by the CVS store located on Garden Street to pick up a birthday card Friday night. She walked in the store around 9:50 p.m., not knowing the store closed at 10 p.m., she said. But as she walked toward the front of the store to check out, just minutes after the 10 p.m. closing, she triggered a motion sensor alarm and found herself barricaded inside. A metal security gate blocked the front entrance as sirens began blaring.
"I started screaming, "Is anyone here? Can anyone help me?" said Rimmel, assuming employees would be counting a register or cleaning.
She panicked, she said, dropped the card on the floor and dialed a friend who advised her to call 911.
"All I could hear were alarms," said Jacqueline Burt, Rimmel's friend. "I told her to call 911 because I didn't want them to go in there with guns."
Rimmel told Florida Today that she was paranoid someone might think she was a burglar, so she stood in front of a security camera and dialed police.
"I was shaking. I was scared, but I wasn’t scared for my life. I was just so nervous that I did something wrong," she said. "I didn’t know how this could happen. I was dumbfounded."
She sat down facing the front door and waited for police.
"They told me to stay where I was and they would call me back when they found someone to let me out," said Rimmel, who said police needed to find someone with keys to free her from the store.
Burt called another CVS store in Titusville, whose employees were able to reach the manager of the Garden Street location.
Amy Matthews, a public information officer for the Titusville Police Department, said officers responded to the 911 call, which came in at 10:09 p.m. When police got there, they waited for a key holder to arrive and never entered the premises. There was no wrongdoing from either party, she said, but officers did help calm down Rimmel, who was shaken up.
When the CVS manager arrived, she opened up the store and then asked Rimmel if she would still like to purchase the card — which she did.
Rimmel said there was no announcement warning of the store closure and there were other customers in the store when she arrived. She said was unsure how employees didn't know she was still in the store, and was surprised by how quickly the store was emptied after the closing.
"I’m 6 feet tall. I can overlook all the partitions, I can look over every one of the aisles, so I don’t know how they didn’t see me. No one said anything to me. No one did nothing," she said. "There was no indication it was closing at all. The music was still on and so were the lights."
A nearly identical situation was reported in February at a St. Cloud CVS.
A CVS spokesperson said Monday that corrective action has been taken at both locations.
“We sincerely apologize for the incident at our Titusville store,” a CVS spokesperson said in an email to News 6. “We are reinforcing the correct store closing procedures with all of our stores to prevent this from occurring again.”