Wal-Mart & Local Police Detain Man, Threaten Arrest Over 4 Bags Of Sugar

This guy was trying to make strawberry jam this morning, and he had to go buy 4 bags of sugar. The cashier threw away the original receipt but put the sugar in a couple of Wal-Mart shopping bags, so Ben left the store thinking everything was, you know, normal for a Saturday morning. Then he was stopped by a security guard, a store manager, and an off-duty police officer, all of whom went batshit crazy on Ben over his 4 bags of sugar and lack of receipt. Before it was over one of the shopping bags was ripped open, a bag of sugar lay broken open on the parking lot, the guard had threatened to kick Ben’s ass, and the police officer said, “you’d better not be lying to me.” Ben was marched back into the store so they could verify with his cashier that he wasn’t a sugar thief. Welcome to Wal-Mart, the police-state superstore where prices are low and civil rights don’t exist.

I was at the Germantown Wal*Mart to buy four bags of sugar because earlier in the day I had been at Butler’s Orchard picking 10 pounds of strawberries to turn into delicious jam. And to make delicious jam, you need lots of sugar. I grabbed four bags and headed to the checkout, where I also decided I could use some refreshment. I grabbed a Mountain Dew from the cooler, but the cashier had already processed my card for the four bags of sugar. He apologized and rang up another transaction for the Mt. Dew. At that point, he crumpled up my receipt for the four bags of sugar and handed me the receipt for the Mountain Dew. I headed for the exit, and was greeted by Wal*Mart security who wanted to check my receipt. I produced the receipt for the Mountain Dew and explained that the cashier had tossed the other receipt for the sugar. I would repeat this explanation 6 more times before this affair ended.

At this point, I attempted to leave, but was told I could not. I immediately asked if I was being detained. I was told “no” but that I wasn’t allowed to leave unless I walked back to the cashier to get a receipt. I said that I was “happy to let the security guard talk to the cashier, but that I was heading home with my sugar.” I attempted to leave again, and the door was blocked. I asked again if I was being detained, and was told “yes.” I asked on what grounds, and the security guard said “Because you stole.”

I informed the guard I had done no such thing, that the sugar was my property, and I was leaving with it. This time I pushed passed him and left the store, with him following me demanding I stop. As I left, he grabbed my bags, ripping them open. As he followed me he attempted to grab my bags, and grab the items inside of my bags. At one point, he told me that he should “kick my ass.” As I reached the end of sidewalk outside the store and headed towards my car in the parking lot, another employee came running and blocked my path. Soon afterwards a manager arrived. I again asked if I was being detained. I was informed by the manager that I was. I again asked for what reason, and was told by the original security guard that it was for stealing. I once again informed them that I hadn’t stolen anything and that I was leaving.

At this point, the manager informed me that Wal*Mart policy did not allow me to leave the store without showing a receipt. I said that I had paid for my merchandise, that it was in fact a store employee that had thrown away my receipt, and that I was not compelled to prove that items that I legally owned belonged to anyone but me. Again I inquired whether I was being detained, and was told my only options were to go back in the store to talk to the cashier or have the police called. I informed the manager that she was welcome to call the police, because I had done nothing wrong. At tht point, she radioed for someone to call the police. Once again, I started to walk to my car as the two security guards again attempted to block my path in the parking lot.

At this point, and off duty police officer came to the scene (he appeared to be heading into Wal*Mart to shop, not the one called by the manager), showed his badge, and asked for an explanation. Everyone was calmed by this, and tensions visibly eased on the faces of the Wal*Mart employees. I explained my side, and Wal*Mart employees explained their side. After the explanations, I asked the police officer if I was being detained, and he said yes. I asked on what grounds, and he said “suspicion of theft.” The officer told me I could give them “their merchandise back” and leave at that point or I could go inside and talk to the cashier. I indicated that since he was detaining me, I was willing to go back into the store and speak with the cashier, but that the merchandise belonged to me. At this point, one of the bags of sugar fell from my ripped bags and split open on the pavement. It was an accident, but I could tell no one believed me when I said so.

On the way into the store, the officer informed me that it was his day off, he had important things to do, and he didn’t want to take me to jail. But I had one last chance to give them their merchandise back and just leave, because if I wasn’t telling the truth, he would personally drive me to the station. I agreed wholeheartedly with him, and told him so. I’m fairly certain he thought I had actually stolen the sugar at this point. He then asked what I needed so much sugar for anyway. At the time, I was literally covered with strawberry juice. It had stained my shorts and shirt red, and I thought it was fairly believable that I was going to make strawberry jam. He still seemed skeptical, asking where I had been picking strawberries, and only seemed to believe me after I was able to name Butler’s Orchard. He then asked if I had ID, what my name was, and how old I was. Upon telling him this, he said “You better not be lying to me,” so perhaps I was too quick to think he didn’t assume I was guilty.

Of course, upon re-entering the store and speaking with the cashier, he informed everyone that I had paid for the sugar and the receipt was found in his trash can. His story differed slightly in that he told them he had given me the receipt but I had thrown it into his trash can. That was impossible based on where his trash can was from the checkout counter, but it didn’t matter. The original security guard was cordial, shook my hand, and apologized. The Wal*Mart manager and police officer lectured about how next time if I just cooperated and gave up my rights at the beginning, it would have been much easier on everyone. Trust me, Wal*Mart, there won’t be a next time.

If you defend Wal-Mart for this treatment of an average customer, you are a slave. There are other ways to prevent shoplifting. How about the security guard follows the suspected shoplifter to his car to take down his license plate while radioing someone in the store to confirm whether or not his story is legit? Besides that, Ben had four bags of sugar in Wal-Mart branded plastic bags—the likelihood that he was shoplifting them was low, and the value of the sugar to the store was virtually nonexistent compared to other merchandise that was and is probably being stolen from Wal-Marts all over America this weekend. No matter how belligerent a customer is in this situation, the guard, manager, and officer should remember that if the customer is innocent, he has a right to be belligerent and offended that he’s being harrassed to such a degree—especially over something as trivial as four bags of sugar.

Update: Ben wrote back to us, “To their credit, they did replace the bag of sugar.”

“Detained by Montgomery County Police For Buying Sugar” [Metblogs] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
(Photo: kaibara87)

Comments

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  1. cloudedice says:

    He must not have shown his license when he payed with a credit card, either.

  2. Cliff_Donner says:

    Some group needs to orchestrate a “Leave Wal-Mart Without Showing Your Receipt” Day. It would be interesting to see how the store would deal with dozens of people trying to simultaneously bypass the receipt-checker. Maybe even throw in some extra people just carrying Wal-Mart bags filled with crumpled up newspaper to spice things up.

  3. timmus says:

    Montgomery County what? England? New Zealand? This story needs to be written better.

  4. scerwup says:

    So, the security guard threatened to kick his ass did he? In the parking lot, not in the store even. All I know is that, here in Texas, you threaten me in a public place, such as a parking lot, I have every right to pull out my stun gun and defend myself. Shit, in Texas if I have a concealed weapon license and you threaten me in a public place, I have a right to defend myself from bodily harm, such as “kicking my ass”, with my weapon. I don’t carry a gun, but a stun gun works nicely and is totally legal for anyone to own. Threaten me, get the shit shocked out of you. That’s what happens. I wish more people would stand up for themselves.

  5. karmaghost says:

    Always make sure you get your receipt, even if the casher throws it out. I am in no way blaming the customer, don’t get me wrong, but where I work, customers throw their receipts away all the time or tell cashiers they don’t want them. I’ve always thought that this is a mistake. Again, this is in no way the customer’s fault, the cashier shouldn’t have thrown the receipt away, but making sure you have that stupid piece of paper makes things a lot easier for everyone.

  6. wring says:

    i never thought there would ever be such a term as “police-state superstore”. maybe it’s time to turn libertarian.

  7. Skankingmike says:

    THIS IS WHY YOU DO NOT SHOP AT WALMART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    They force their employees to work extra hours off the clock you think they give a rats ass about your civil liberties? and cops DEFINITELY do not give a crap about those either.

  8. karmaghost says:

    @scerwup: I think this guy did an awesome job of standing up for himself. Not only does it sound like he kept his calm, but he knew his rights and cooperated with the police at the end. “Standing up for yourself” doesn’t always involve shooting or beating the shit out of someone. Maybe in Texas it does…

  9. Yankees368 says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have never been asked to provide a reciept on the way out of Wal*Mart.

    Costco, Home Depot…yes

    But NEVER wal*mart.

  10. scoli83 says:

    @scerwup: No, you don’t have the right to use deadly force as a defense against mere verbal threats of violence. You can only use deadly force to defend yourself, or others, from the use of deadly force, aggravated kidnapping, murder, rape, or robbery.

  11. bcsus83 says:

    @Cliff_Donner:

    Oh I’d pay to be a part of that group! LOL!

    I will admit it. I love Wal-Mart. Really, I do. But this is one of their ‘policies’ that I think is complete and utter bull crap.

  12. Apparently they couldn’t handle the truth.

    @timmus: I don’t know, maybe a key word (Germantown) in the first sentence explains all you need to know.

  13. boxjockey68 says:

    what on EARTH is going on with that store, just when you think they really can’t get any worse….they do.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    When they first came after the sugar-hoarding preserves makers,
    I said nothing because I’m diabetic…

  15. STrRedWolf says:

    Once again, drop a line to Walmart corporate. If it happens again, lawsuit time.

  16. STrRedWolf says:

    BTW, this was Montgomery County, Maryland. The blog is centered around Washington, DC, of which Montgomery County borders.

  17. Mudpuddle says:

    Guess there was no “sugar” for the the jam maker at walmart.

  18. Dobernala says:

    [blockquote]Shit, in Texas if I have a concealed weapon license and you threaten me in a public place, I have a right to defend myself from bodily harm, such as “kicking my ass”, with my weapon[/quote]

    Actually, if you have a concealed carry permit, part of the course is to learn non-violent conflict resolution. One of the things you are taught is not to brandish a firearm; you only grab your gun if you intend to fire it.

    Your idea, while noble in the face of stupidity, is not advisable.

  19. kyle4 says:

    He should sue them or something to make a point. I can’t believe that happened.

  20. JeffDrummer says:

    Wow, the guy sounds pretty calm about the whole thing. It sounds like he just didn’t want to be bothered with having to go back and his receipt. He was dirty, probably sticky and sweaty – I don’t blame him.
    I throw my receipts out all the time for small purchases, I guess that I’ll have to not do that anymore.

    I don’t think that this is a Wal Mart problem exclusively, because the security at Barnes and Noble told me that he needed to pat me down “because there has been a lot of theft.” I told him if he touched me I would call the cops. I actually kind of think that this guy was lucky that a police officer was there, it sounds like the rent-a-cop was punk.

    Probably could have been handled better on both sides, but Wal Mart, you need to send this guy a very nice apology.

  21. cametall says:

    Why didn’t he just set the bags down with the first guard and go get the receipt from the cashier?

    Am I the only one not having an ounce of sympathy for the customer?

  22. P41 says:

    First mistake, before entering the store you should have asked if the manager would be charged with filing a false police report.

    Second mistake, once cleared, you should have stated you wanted to file charges for kidnapping and/or unlawful detainment (they had to have reasonable cause BEFORE you declined to show your receipt) plus charges for assault and battery against the security guard.

    Third mistake, it sounds like your priority is to vent to consumerist and ‘make them pay’ by never going back. Good internet reading, but neither will do anything to change a manager’s mind that it’s their right to search people they allow on their property, and you were just an idiot for not cooperating. On the other hand, if the manager and the security guard were in jail, and the company was talking to you on how much to settle your lawsuit, I think it would go further to help them understand who was right and who was wrong.

  23. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I thought WalMart had a policy of calling the police if the merchandise is over $25.

  24. VikingP77 says:

    They actually wasted this time over SUGAR?! SUGAR?!!!!!!
    Really Wal-Mart? REALLY?! How many more of these stories are there going to have to be before you FIX your flawed policies and educate your employees?! And what a WASTE of SPACE COP?! He would haul someone to jail for SUGAR?! WTF?!

  25. darksunfox says:

    @screwup – Although I have only taken the CCW course in Minnesota, I’m pretty sure that the cops around here might not look friendly on pulling weapons of any kind on unarmed security guards you are fleeing who just want to see your receipt, regardless of what they may-or-may-not have said. You pull the weapon, you become the escalator. But if you’d like to try to explain that one in court, please let the rest of us know how it works out for you in… 6-12 months?

  26. kerry says:

    @Michael Belisle: There’s also a Germantown, PA. I assumed that’s where this was taking place, since it’s the only Germantown I’d heard of before I read your comment. Clearly, just saying “Germantown” doesn’t provide enough information.

  27. theysaidwhat says:

    @timmus: It’s PA, near Philadelphia, which I only know because I used to live in the area.

  28. BronzeHammer says:

    Can anybody weigh in on the legality of the off-duty officer asking for ID and performing police duties while not on the clock?

    I understand an officer’s right to ask for my ID when I’m operating a motor vehicle, etc. but I’m skeptical of “Let me see your papers, son” even when the officer is in full uniform and so on, if I’m just walking around.

    Further, what sort of standard is “suspicion of theft” held to, when the officer had no more reasonable suspicion than did the security guard? Granted he certainly has the authority to make arrests (if off duty officers can do so), but can cops hold you for whatever reason?

  29. Chris Walters says:

    @AtomicallyItemized: Ben wrote back to us, “To their credit, they did replace the bag of sugar.” I’ve added it to the end of the post for future readers.

  30. VikingP77 says:

    @cametall: Why does he HAVE to?! The register person threw it away not the customer. That is the whole point of these people…THE WHOLE POINT is once you pay for something and they don’t have proof that you have stolen anything you DON’T NEED to show anyone a receipt! WHY WHY WHY do you not get the point?!

  31. YouPeople says:

    When I’m asked for my receipt at Wal-Mart, I ask for the store manager, and say they aren’t seeing anything until he or she comes down. Once they’re there, I let them search and explain to the manager that if they’re going to waste my time, I’m going to waste theirs.
    They haven’t changed their policies, but it feels better.

  32. nsv says:

    @cametall: The ONLY one? Probably not. But I’m not seeing a lot of sympathy for Wal-Mart here.

    If you’re going to steal something, why the hell would you steal sugar? It’s nearly worthless, heavy, and can easily break and spill all over the parking lot. Wal-Mart seriously needs to reconsider their policies if they think that sugar makes up the majority of their shrink.

    But as long as people keep shopping there and submitting to their searches, I don’t see a reason for them to stop. I won’t go there, but millions still do.

  33. cametall says:

    @VikingP77:
    So he puts himself through this crap because he doesn’t want to grab the receipt or the cashier?

    Why would you LET the cashier throw it away?

    Though it was the cashier’s fault the guard had no reason to believe he was telling the truth. He should have explained what happened and then tried to cooperate.

    But no, he instead decides to say the cashier threw the receipt away and try to leave.

    What would you do if your job was to stop theft?

  34. cametall says:

    @nsv:
    I’m not saying sympathize with Walmart, but c’mon, people should be able to see both parties failed at handling what happened.

    Walmart shouldn’t have tossed the receipt, and the customer should have cooperated with the first guard, rather than try to leave after giving a weak explanation.

  35. Phexerian says:

    If I was in this situation, at the point the employee told me he was going to kick me ass and was grabbing for my belongings, I would have dropped them and then dropped his teeth from his mouth a few times, until he doesn’t resist anymore, while screaming to not touch me and to get away; then detain him physically and tell him that he is under citizens arrest. At this point I would phone an officer to the scene after taking control of the situation.

    The person in this story, after being told that THEY need to go talk to the cashier, should have said no, but that the walmart management can go talk to the cashier as he is under no burden to prove his innocence, but rather walmart has to prove he was stealing. If an american citizen has to prove their innocence everywhere they go, I might think we live in a police state.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it would go anywhere in court as to walmart detaining you. They had reasonable suspicion to do so, but once again, they have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are guilty of theft.

    Send a letter to corporate and complain. Ask for the managers superior and get in touch with them about the problem. Get in touch with the ACLU and ask them to investigate it. It may be possible that they can put some heat on them for this.

    -Phex
    -3rd Year PharmD/MBA Candidate

  36. Nick1693 says:

    @Cliff_Donner: I just put that as an event on Facebook.

  37. MrsLopsided says:

    A receipt is also known as “proof of purchase”. Why didn’t he just co-operate and go back to get the “proof of purchase” – or get it in the first place. He behaved with the same attitude, excuses, and tactics that a “real” thief would use. When you start acting like a dickhead people will treat you like a dickhead. Under what circumstances should Walmart (or any retailer) be allowed to detain suspected shoplifters?

  38. racermd says:

    The only thing I would have done differently in such a situation (other than not shopping at WalMart to begin with) is to call the local police upon being told I would be detained for ‘theft’ or ‘shoplifting’. If the staff at the store honestly (or not, apparently) believe that you’re stealing, the best thing to do is to start a trail of paperwork and evidence that you’re innocent. You’d certainly be put out by all the extra work but it’ll make them think twice about accusing people in such a cavalier fashion, which is the whole point of refusing to show your receipt at the door upon exit.

    Other than that one goof-up by the OP, he’s completely in the right. And at least the off-duty officer knew to use the phrase “suspicion of theft” instead of outright accusing him of theft.

  39. VikingP77 says:

    @cametall: Ummmm Wal-Mart PUT HIM through this NOT the other way around….again you are missing the point of ALL these posts…..

  40. forgottenpassword says:

    @MrsLopsided<

    “Under what circumstances should Walmart (or any retailer) be allowed to detain suspected shoplifters?”

    I would think when a person has literally witnessed a crime (theft etc. etc.). Security guards have no more authority than a regular person. They have the power to make a citizen’s arrest (just like a regular person).

    I used to work as one so i should know.

    They need to train this security guard better.

    btw… I LOVE these resiept check stories!

  41. dantsea says:

    I think the first sentence from Chris Walters after Ben’s story bears repeating:

    If you defend Wal-Mart for this treatment of an average customer, you are a slave.

  42. nsv says:

    @cametall: How did the customer fail?

    I don’t cherish every tiny slip of paper that crosses my path. I keep receipts if I think I might need them. I wouldn’t bother with a receipt for sugar, and certainly wouldn’t have taken the time to tell the cashier to pull it out of the trash.

    And I don’t have any need to cooperate with security if they want to do an unreasonable search. Carrying a bag out of a store is not probable cause, it’s something that happens millions of times a day.

  43. prmononoke says:

    @wring:

    You should have been libertarian in the first place.

  44. @forgottenpassword: When I used to be an armed security guard at a grocery store in Indiana (yes, really….. HUGE crime problem in that area of town at the time), the law as described to us was that we could only detain someone if we had [a] seen them take the merchandise, and [b] had them in sight the entire time afterward, and know for a fact that they had neither discarded the item or paid for it.

    It didn’t matter how many steaks I’d seen you stuff inside your jacket, if I lost track of you for even an instant, the jig was up, because during the time I didn’t see you, you MIGHT have discarded them.

    Once you crossed the threshold of the door, with the goods in your possession, THEN we were entitled to perform a citizen’s arrest pending arrival of law enforcement. But under no other circumstances (related to this sort of thing anyway, obviously) could the guard detain the “customer”.

  45. TechnoDestructo says:

    @wring:

    Wouldn’t that ENCOURAGE this kind of thing?

  46. MBZ321 says:

    What a waste of time. I’m sure while this was all happening people were walking out with TV’s and unscanned products under their carts.

  47. warloc66 says:

    The OP was completely in the right. Receipt checks are voluntary, and unless someone in the store saw you take something, they can not detain you.

    [consumerist.com]

  48. Uriel says:

    one of the major points that i think is being skipped over here, is that this person should not have been forced to show a receipt at all, even to police until it was proven that he had stolen something…

  49. Avaren says:

    Here’s my take on this story:

    I work at wal-mart, and I have seen all the policies relating to this incident. The asset protection policy is about 9 pages long and lists a thorough checklist of things you must SEE before you can even approach a customer, much less detain them.

    The people greeters (receipt checkers) are instructed at my store to NEVER stop someone from leaving if they refuse to show their receipt.

    My asset protection coordinator is the best I have ever seen and he would never ever participate in something like this. I would not blame Wal*Mart as a whole for these kinds of shenanigans, but the fact that some stores have improperly trained associates, even the store managers. I think improvements to this system need to be in a per-store basis, and I encourage anyone who gets hassled like this to call in and report.

    THE BEST PLACE TO REPORT A STORE’S MISBEHAVIOR IS TO THEIR MARKET/DISTRICT MANAGER. Their name should be displayed above the Service Desk (Returns Desk) and ask any supervisor or member of management for their phone number. I guarantee that it will be resolved within a couple days.

  50. forgottenpassword says:

    @Derek Balling:

    Are you sure that was the law… or instead just the store’s policy concerning the behavior allowed by it’s security staff?

  51. Overheal says:

    I hope the manager reviewed the tapes and found the cashier at fault.

  52. Pithlit says:

    This is exactly why the “Just show your receipt” crowd is wrong, and has always been wrong. This scenario is exactly why these receipt check policies are ridiculous and why we shouldn’t just submit to them. I refuse. Lucky the stores around me don’t do it to begin with (I don’t shop at Wal Mart, ever).

  53. AcidReign says:

        Our local Walmart on Homewood’s Lakeshore Parkway NEVER does receipt checking. There’s nice ladies at the door, but they’re busy saying “Welcome to Walmart!” and trying to hand you a shopping cart with used Kleenexes in it.

        I buy a set of waterproof/steeltoe Brahma boots there, from time to time. It always flags the door alarm, when I roll out. “Whoop! Walmart inventory control has been mmmtilvated. Mumble-mumble, distort-distort…” I stand there, shrug with my best WTF gesture, then continue to my car. I’ve yet to see any loss-prevention person show up. This has happened at LEAST ten times!

  54. shufflemoomin says:

    I’m from the UK but read the consumerist daily. I’d read many times about receipt checkers and thought it was a crazy idea and maybe not widespread. I took a trip to NYC and bought a carrycase for my PSP at a Best Buy there. I wanted to see this store for myself after hearing so much. There was a security guy at the door who could clearly see the checkouts no more than 20 feet from him. He watched as I purchased my one item and did not have it bagged. I was wondering if he would ask for a receipt when he’d clearly seen me buy it but sure enough ‘Can I see your receipt please sir’. I didn’t make a fuss and showed it a shake of my head. It was then that I believed all that I’d read about the state of the corporate US. It’s truly a sad sight. I no longer shop at ASDA in the UK after it became ‘Part Of The Wal*Mart family’ and never will again. They did introduce Wal*Mart greeters but not receipt checkers yet. The US need to make a stand against this. For a country that is so into it’s rights and holds a constiution, you’re being shafted by your own country and it needs to stop before it gets out of hand. Just IMHO

  55. RumorsDaily says:

    First you get the money, then you get the women, then you get the sugar.

  56. bravo369 says:

    so you stopped to show the receipt for the soda but didn’t have it for anything else. I wouldn’t let you leave either. how do you not understand that it looks like shoplifting? didn’t we see a case on consumerist just like this where a guy made a big deal about how he didn’t have a receipt for 4 cases of soda but spent $100. turned out, he really did try to shoplift it. maybe i’d side with you if you went to clear it up and tried to usher you to a back room to wait but no, you could’ve verified with the cashier and be on your way.

    i really do not understand people. It just makes me want to go to walmart, pick up the box for the 40 inch tv and march to the exit. when they ask to see a receipt, say no and that i paid for it. Do you really expect them NOT to try and verify that? you would have a conga line to the exit with everyone saying the same thing yet everyone here thinks the store shouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

  57. BearTack says:

    Time to take this to corporate in handcuffs. In most states corporate officers are guilty of a crime if they know, or should know that employees are committing crimes. The Walmart CEO and all other officers should by now know this is a problem. The security guard was clearly not trained, harassed, threatened and illegally detained the victim. He should go to his County DA and attempt to file charges against the Walmart officers.

    It probably won’t get anywhere, but bringing this home to corporate really gets them to take notice. I did a similar thing, though I did it directly rather than involving the DA, with an nursery chain once, and the problems were stopped immediately.

  58. cosby says:

    I would have pretty much handled this the same way although I would have changed a few things. First off I would have asked the off duty officer to call the sargent that was on duty come to the store so I could talk to him. Because I would have had a nice talk to him about my detainment.

    Second as soon as they found the ticket in their system I would be telling the sargent that I wanted to file formal charges of assualt on the security guard in question. If he managed to touch me when going for the goods battery charges would follow as well.

    While sitting their I would also be on the phone with any one of the lawyers I do work for asking what charges if any I could have filed against them for the detainment if anything to trouble the store. If the police in question refused to follow through formal complaints would be written against them at a later date. Also I would be making a scene pretty much from the moment I was brought back into the store to help scare away business.

    After all of this I would also considering picketing in front of the store a few days. Just to be an ass.

  59. Primate says:

    @MrsLopsided: Stores only have a right to detain you if they SAW you steal or conceal something and attempt to leave the store which is why so many people have an issue with the receipt check and detainment when you don’t comply. There is no suspicion on their part that you stole anything until you refuse to show a receipt. That’s not a good enough reason to detain you. What’s next? Pat down’s before you leave, checking all your pockets and purse etc.?

  60. mxjohnson says:

    I recently posted a couple comments on a similar thread and apparently they bear repeating. And updating, too, since I just had run in at Wal*Mart myself.

    Wal*Mart needs probable cause to detain you. Not showing a receipt is not probable cause. They need to see you pick up the merchandise, hide it or hold it, not put it down, and leave (Google “shoplifting six steps” to see what the standard practice is). A merchant can’t claim probable cause to suspect every customer of theft. They do not have the right to search your person or your belongings just because you walked into their store.

    And that’s exactly what they’re doing. You’ve paid for the sugar. It’s yours. They gave you the bag. The bag is yours. Once you’ve paid them for it, it’s your property. They don’t get to search in your bag or examine your receipt any more than they can make you empty your pocket or purse.

    “So don’t shop there,” people say, but they’re missing the point. If they detain you without probable cause, they’re breaking the law. Their notoriety does not absolve them of any legal responsibility. After all, you can’t steal a PlayStation 3 from them and then have your defense be, “I’m a notorious shoplifter and they shouldn’t have let me in the store.” We follow the law when we shop there; they need to follow the law too.

    I’ve long been on the fence when it comes to Wal*Mart. I don’t shop there often, but when I do, I don’t stop and show my receipt. It was never an issue until a couple days ago, when I picked up a PlayStation 3 from the ShipToStore counter. I walked to the exit with the PS3 in one hand, my receipt in the other. The greeter demanded to see my receipt, I refused, he followed me out the store and screamed “Hey, Idiot! STOP!”

    I didn’t, and nothing much came of it. I wrote a letter to corporate HQ, and we’ll see what kind of response it gets.

    Admittedly, a PS3 is not 4 bags of sugar. But if they feel weird seeing it go out the door with no bag or anything, they should slap a sticker on it like they do at the grocery store when I buy a bag of cat litter.

    Was I acting like a thief? No, and I’m insulted by the suggestion the sugar man was. A thief steals. There are some of us who would never steal, and never give up our right to privacy. I don’t want to live in a society where that in itself is grounds for suspicion.

  61. digitalgimpus says:

    Depending on where the store is, they may be legally required to give you a receipt… I would have pressed the officer on that and filed a complaint with the BBB over that.

    Secondly, I would have returned the merchandise. No way I would still give them the sale after that.

  62. ShariC says:

    I hate to say it, but the fact that Wal-mart continues to thrive in the face of these types of stories shows how the average consumer is a slave to his purchasing habits. Anyone who is reasonably informed knows that Wal-mart does not do well by their employees and has cheap prices due to stocking a lot of goods made in foreign countries for slave wages.

    If you add these stories to the mix, why does everyone still go to Wal-mart? They go because their ethics and values are lower down on the priority scale than cheap consumption. Despite what many people claim, they can afford to shop elsewhere. They just rationalize their continued patronage by saying they can’t.

    Why did this man buy sugar at Wal-mart if he’s a Consumerist reader and knows the way things work? How much money can you save on 4 bags of sugar at Wal-mart over a supermarket? If he knew this has happened to others, then he made the choice to risk this type of incident in exchange for the money he saved by shopping at Wal-mart.

  63. nsv says:

    @Overheal: The cashier made an error, and a simple one. When you hand the receipt to a customer, if there are two receipts, the first is probably from the previous customer and shouldn’t be given to the current customer. So you throw it out.

    The security goons and store managers are at fault here.

  64. geoffhazel says:

    For crying out loud, just show them the d**m receipt! It’s not worth the hassle.

  65. Caveat says:

    Next time use self check-out, get your receipt, and show it on the way out.

  66. hatrack says:

    @bravo369:

    I think posting guards at the doors and demanding to be shown receipts is a relatively new practice. I certanly don’t remember seeing it when I was a kid. How did the stores survive back then? Oh right, they actually had employees that would watch for suspicious behavior and only stop people that they saw shoplift. What a concept.

  67. 3drage says:

    In the wild west, people defended their freedoms with firearms. Are we reaching that point again?

  68. dequeued says:

    Oh my god!
    That guy was so disrespectful and uncooperative!
    He should apologize for being rude to those poor dear security people who were just after all doing their jobs!

    What right did he have to show even a hint of resistance!?
    So what if he didn’t actually steal anything, those security guards didn’t know that!

  69. thesabre says:

    @JeffDrummer: Because it’s *his* side of the story. I’m sure if you ask the guards, they would say they were calm and this guy was loud and belligerent.

    The key thing to remember is there are three sides to every story: party A’s, party B’s, and the truth.

  70. forgottenpassword says:

    Just want to say to everyone here that in case you want to refuse to show a reciept…. you DO run the risk of never being allowed to shop at that place again. Management can ban you from the store forever if they want & its perfectly legal. If they catch you there again they can have you charged with tresspassing.

    Personally I would not cause such a fuss at my local shops I regular go to close to where I live. But one that was in another city/town/out of the way… sure.

  71. allstarecho says:

    What a dumb ass. All you had to do was walk back to the cashier and get it taken care of. But no, you had to be a damn drama queen. These are the kinds of consumerists posts that piss me off. If you act like a dumb ass and look for confrontation, you get what you deserve. EVERYONE knows that 9 times out of 10, you will be asked to show your receipt. Rather than start a big ruckus, you should have said the cashier tossed it in the trash and walked back to get it.

  72. VikingP77 says:
  73. I’m so glad there are no walmarts in NYC. They tried opening a store but for once the city actually did something good.

  74. VikingP77 says:

    @allstarecho: WOW MORE SHEEPLE…..

  75. @allstarecho: The thing is you don’t have to show your receipt. It would be nice but you have no legal obligation to do so. They also have no legal right to restrain you for not showing your receipt. So what wrong with standing up for your rights?

  76. allstarecho says:

    @hypochondriac: It doesn’t matter what you don’t have to do. You know you could get checked. If you don’t agree with it, don’t shop there. Aside from that, the guy was a total prick. All of that could have been avoided by simply going back to the cashier. There is a difference in standing up for your rights, and being a damn drama queen.

  77. catnapped says:

    Doesn’t OP understand by creating all this fuss a kitten died and a terrorist somewhere won?!?

  78. ffmariners says:

    @theysaidwhat: Germantown MD is also in Montgomery County

  79. thesabre says:

    There’s something else I don’t understand about this consumer. Why did you go to the Wal-Mart when there is a Giant less than a block away and they don’t have receipt checkers? If you’re buying groceries, Giant is far better than Wal-Mart.

    And why did you show a receipt for your Mt. Dew if you were standing up for your rights?

  80. Lance Uppercut says:

    @newcastlebrown: That’s what I thought. I doubt $2 bags of sugar are high theft items. Their size makes them kind of hard to conceal. Something must have attracted security’s attention.

    @hypochondriac: Is there any legal precedent to that claim? It seems like Wal-mart could claim that showing the receipt is part of the purchase process and that the purchase isn’t complete until you show it.

  81. VikingP77 says:

    @newcastlebrown: The SHEEPLE are breeding now! And actually you don’t have to act like a lunatic for Wal-Mart to go paranoid on you. Posting this on the Consumerist does not automatically make Wal-Mart and cop right just because you say it does. If you don’t like websites for the rights of consumers why don’t you read another one like the Wal-Mart website?

  82. catnapped says:

    So quick review class…not showing a receipt at Wal-Mart means you’re emboldening Al Qaeda, ergo, you must hate America and everything it stands for if you don’t show a receipt.

  83. prisonplanet says:

    Simple Solution: Have the checkout stands lead you immediately to the EXIT.

  84. Lance Uppercut says:

    @VikingP77: I’m all for the rights of consumers, but just because someone posts on Consumerist doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth or the whole story.

  85. BlondeGrlz says:

    Good Lord, how poor are some people’s reading comprehension skills?

    It wasn’t a giant TV, it wasn’t something under the bottom of his cart, it wasn’t a PS3, and it was in a Walmart bag. He says “I produced the receipt for the Mountain Dew and explained that the cashier had tossed the other receipt for the sugar.”

    Unless this is some sort of new, extra large Wal-mart, the exit doors are right next to the checkout counters. Why should the customer leaving with his property have to return to the cashier? The guard could have easily said “Which register?” and then confirmed the story himself. If it turned out he had stolen the sugar, then follow his to the parking lot and write down his license plate.

    Obviously they don’t require a real high level of problem solving and intelligence to be a Wal-mart receipt checker. I am surprised so many people here still wouldn’t qualify for the job.

  86. BlondeGrlz says:

    @dabrown: Here:[consumerist.com] also posted at 6:02 by warloc66

  87. induscreed says:

    wow,….this was close…i’ve been to this particular Walmart a lot of times, its what I call the league of nations. A very diverse community of shoppers and a very crappy shopping experience. I guess this is the only walmart on the MD side of the DC metro area.

    I ofcourse show them the receipt when I leave, dont my kind get to inherit the earth?

  88. newfenoix says:

    @scoli83: You don’t live in Texas!

  89. IamToddDavis says:

    If I buy my clothes at wal-mart then go back next week to purchase groceries wearing said clothes should I bring my previous receipt to prove I paid for my clothes?

    Ridiculous.

    And, to all those who said or implied that this person was a drama queen….civil liberties are to be preserved and cherished. I applaud this so-called drama queen for doing what we all should.

  90. newfenoix says:

    @BronzeHammer: @BronzeHammer: A police is a police officer 24/7, BUT, from what I read the officer did not have PC to talk the individual in the manner that he was spoke to him.

  91. allstarecho says:

    @IamToddDavis: Civil liberties my ass. This wasn’t a matter of national security. The drama queen just felt like being confrontational. He says “I produced the receipt for the Mountain Dew and explained that the cashier had tossed the other receipt for the sugar.” OK, fine. Go back and get your receipt or wait on the door greeter to go get it or at least wait on the door greeter to go ask the cashier. Issue solved. But no, this douche had to act as if he were being detained by the CIA, FBI, ABC, DEFGHIT.. whatever. This dude was in the wrong.

  92. glorpy says:

    @VikingP77: It’s not a case of sheeple.

    The customer was doing fine right up until the manager got involved and he didn’t say the magic words, “I didn’t steal the sugar. The cashier threw away the receipt. Go talk to the cashier. If you don’t, *I* will call the police for unlawful detainment.”

    Instead, he dicked everybody around by acting passive aggressive, repeatedly asking only if he was being detained.

    The store manager and security team screwed up badly, but he made a bad situation worse.

  93. BlondeGrlz says:

    @glorpy: Wrong. I produced the receipt for the Mountain Dew and explained that the cashier had tossed the other receipt for the sugar. I would repeat this explanation 6 more times before this affair ended.

  94. IamToddDavis says:

    @allstarecho: It *is* a matter of national security. I don’t want to live in fear of para-military forces like “store security” stopping me.

    If theft is such a big problem in their stores there MUST be a better way to handle it than this.

  95. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    The problem with the US right now is not the people who say “just show the damn receipt”.
    What concerns me are the people who automatically show their receipts at the Best Buy I work at when I don’t even ask. There is a difference between dicks that ask you to hand over your rights and idiots that give them up as a matter of routine.

  96. VikingP77 says:

    @glorpy: *sighs* The SHEEPLE reference is in regards to induh-viduals that will just go along with the store and its unlawful practices. Is that not clear? He did nothing wrong. The so called professionals handled their jobs VERY VERY poorly. Why should customer be treated in such a manner for SUGAR anyways. Was that not clear either? Security accused someone of stealing for no reason with no proof. Lets see how you react SO perfectly when that happens to you…….

  97. newfenoix says:

    My biggest issue with this is that some stores try to take on powers that the police don’t even have. The police can’t just detain someone because they want to. And for you know-it-alls out there, I was a cop and the US Supreme Court is the one that decided that. It is called the “Terry decision.”

    Wal Mart, K-Mart, This Mart or That Mart DOES NOT have the right to DETAIN YOU or STOP YOU from leaving the store. They do not have the right to ask for your receipt. And security personnel do not have the right to detain you.

    As for those that have condemned this person for standing up for his rights, I say to you that you are part of the problem. We have lost far too many civil liberties over the past few years because people WON’T stand up for them. Wal Mart and others get away with this shit because we let them by not standing up for our rights.

    On a side note; I have nothing to hide, but if a police officer comes to my door for ANY reason other than being called to the house, they ARE NOT coming in. I don’t show my receipt and I have taken stuff back and gotten a refund because of bullshit such as this. And if a security guard ever threatens to kick my ass, I will stomp him into the ground BECAUSE they do not have the right to say that to someone in the course of their duties. And I would not get arrested because…that is known as “terroristic threatening” in most states and it is either a top misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the situation. And all I would be doing is responding to a threat. BTW, I arrested a store manager for threatening a customer once.

  98. MarcellaKlim says:

    @timmus:
    Montgomery County, MD. Gaithersburg.

  99. VikingP77 says:

    @newfenoix: YOU are a TRUE American!

  100. I will defend WallyWorld, for no other reason than we are hearing ONE SIDE of a purported incident.

    I have no doubt crap like this does happen each and every day. But considering the availability of digital camcorders why hasn’t somebody provided a little video of such incidents?

  101. Deivion says:

    I wonder how many more consumers needs to stop showing receipts before Wal-Mart starts noticing something….

    On another note, it seems the price of sugar skyrocketed enough to cause security guards to start sprouting kicking ass threats to consumers.

  102. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    I stopped shopping at Walmart about 3 receipt needed posts ago. Home Depot too.

    I made strawberry jam yesterday, bought my sugar (and lids and pectin) at Meijer in the self checkout and was given a nice “have a nice day” at the door by the “greeter” as I left. Pioneer suger, 5 lb bag on sale for $2.00. Who needs Walmart?

  103. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @timmus: I’m guessing MD, since that’s where he lives.

  104. EBone says:

    Six elements are required for a shoplifting charge to stand in court:

    1. The employee must see you enter the department
    2. The employee must see you select the merchandise
    3. The employee must see you alter (switch tags) or conceal the merchandise
    4. You must pass some form of cashier or vending station near the exit, and not pay for the merchandise
    5. You must be stopped outside the store
    6. You must have the merchandise the employee saw you alter/conceal in your possession

    If any one of the six elements are net meant, or if the employee is unable to maintain constant surveillance of you WITHOUT INTERRUPTION, the charge cannot stand in court.

    Sounds like WalMart had NONE of the the six required elements. Some people need to be fired, and WalMart needs to be sued, to be reminded of how legal detentions are handled.

  105. RetailGuy83 says:

    @VikingP77: If you don’t like America, then you can just get out.

  106. VikingP77 says:

    @RetailGuy83: Did I say I didn’t like America or are you making a dumb joke? I don’t like sheeple like you thats what I don’t like.

  107. VikingP77 says:

    @RetailGuy83: Oh and I can only assume you are stupid because you call me un-American for liking freedom and rights. You sir are an ASSHAT!

  108. thalia says:

    I’ve never had to show my receipt at WalMart…

  109. Difdi says:

    @RetailGuy83:

    Wow…so someone who believes people should obey the law is un-American? Where are you from? Myanmar?

  110. @kerry: There’s also a Germantown, PA. I assumed that’s where this was taking place, since it’s the only Germantown I’d heard of before I read your comment. Clearly, just saying “Germantown” doesn’t provide enough information.
    @theysaidwhat: It’s PA, near Philadelphia, which I only know because I used to live in the area.

    I worded my response poorly: there is even more than one Germantown in Maryland.

    But it is Germantown, Montgomery County, Maryland. Timmus read the headline, and then asked which Montgomery County. If he had continued to read the first sentence he’d been able to uniquely identify the location. Or, if you click the link, you’d see “Washington D.C. Metblogs”, another way to figure out that the author is in the the D.C. suburbs.

    But I know, not everyone is perfect like me and catches all these details.

  111. carolott says:

    I had a similar experience at my local WalMart — only I was accused of stealing a $2 glue stick — I stuck the receipt in my pocket instead of in the bag, and it fell onto the floor. Between that and having a shelf full of picture frames fall on my hand — I haven’t set foot in a WalMart since, and that was over 2 years ago.

  112. WraithSama says:

    @dabrown:
    It’s evident that the only thing that attracted the guard’s attention was the OP not showing his receipt for the sugar. At the Wal-Mart in my old hometown, the rent-a-cop stationed at the door would regularly check people’s receipts at random.

    As to your second quandary, the sale is complete once you hand over your money for the purchase. Showing your receipt cannot be considered part of the sales process as it becomes your property the moment you pay for it.

  113. newfenoix says:

    @Michael Belisle: There is also a Germantown in Tennessee…right next to Memphis

  114. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I’d like to point out that every Wal-Mart I’ve ever seen has security cameras. If his story is true, Ben should be pressing charges against that Wal-Mart, that security guard, as well as that cop. When it gets to court, those tapes will end up as part of the evidence and show exactly what happened.

  115. Dobernala says:

    Yep. The key thing to keep in mind is, if you’re being accused of shoplifting ask if you’re being detained and if they say yes, then ask them if they saw you commit the act of shoplifting. This applies to cops too.

    If a cop detains you for suspicion of shoplifting, ask him who claims to have seen you in the act of stealing. Anything that does not meet this standard lacks the necessary probable cause to hold you and is illegal. What happened to this man is very illegal and he should seek relief of some sort.

    Take names and if you have something like a digital camera with a movie mode, start filming. People have a tendency to start acting normally when they realize they are on tape.

  116. vega480 says:

    I will continue to show my receipt every time whenever asked just to read stories like this.

  117. MountainCop says:

    This is an absolute outrage.

    And I recommend pressing charges against the person who told you that he ought to ‘kick your ass’. That is a threat of bodily harm, plain and simple. He placed you in fear of your safety.

    Lawyer. Now.

  118. newfenoix says:

    Here’s an idea; if more people were like the person in this story, and the police were called in more often, the big-wigs would have to eventually contact the state’s attorney or attorney general for advice on these situations. The states respective legislatures would get involved and actually pass laws preventing stores from doing what Wal Mart did here.

    Wal Mart is NOT very popular with the world in general right now and they just might decide that it isn’t worth the trouble to do this shit.

  119. MountainCop says:

    @BronzeHammer: “Off-duty” is a misnomer. Most police officers are on duty 24/7, and in most states, are REQUIRED to render aid, assistance, or enforce the law if circumstances dictate (e.g. Colorado – all peace officers have authority to act in the case of misdemeanors or felonies anywhere in the state).

    This guy, however, sounds like a total jerk.

  120. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @MountainCop: You sound like a total jerk also.

  121. newfenoix says:

    @Corporate-Shill: It doesn’t matter. The op could have been wrong as two left shoes, BUT Wal Mart is the one that messed up. They DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT THEY DID! And that is the main issue here.

  122. differcult says:

    @Cliff_Donner: I would be ALL ABOUT THIS IDEA!

  123. wagnerism says:

    Maybe Target enjoys a higher class of customer that isn’t automatically considered guilty of petty theft. Target’s prices are higher… maybe that pays for the theft losses and provides dignity to the customer.

    You can either put up with this crap to save a buck, or join an elite class of shoppers whose innocence is presumed.

    Yea… I’m blowing the whole class thing out of proportion. They’re both lower-end nationwide retail stores – but I like to not be treated like a thief when I leave the store.

  124. newfenoix says:

    @MountainCop: You are correct, police officers are on duty 24/7 and are required by federal law to render assistance. However, what this officer did was totally out of line because he had NO probable cause to even talk to this person. The way that he should have handled this is to ask if anyone SAW this person steal the sugar. Of course the answer would have been no and that would have been the end of the story. By doing what he did, he opened himself and his department up to a civil liberties law suit.

    Shoplifting is very hard to prove. During my tenure as a cop, I only made two shoplifting arrests. One was when we saw a guy walk out of Wal Mart with an entire arm-load of cigarettes and the other was when a package of bologna fell out of an idiot’s shorts. I was off duty both times. And both times, I SAW this with my own eyes and the person was LEAVING the store when it happened.

    Rent-a-cops are show-offs. They try to make people think that they have some special authority from the state but they DO NOT. In Arkansas and Texas, a security guards’ arrest and detainment authority are NO GREATER than that of a private citizen. I would assume that most other states are similar. That is why many companies are hiring off-duty police officers to work as security guards. I made over $400 a week working two days at a department store. Just to walk around in my PD uniform.

  125. newfenoix says:

    @scottieb3: Statistics prove that around 90% of all theft is committed by employees.

  126. girly says:

    @cametall: “why didn’t he” ?

    Why didn’t *they* go talk to the cashier?!??!?!?!
    I can’t believe the cop went along with it.

  127. GregGates says:

    I don’t understand the practice of trying to hustle and bust through the defensive line when there is some sort of dispute on the way out of a store. Now, I absolutely HATE the false positive alarm and understand that having to wait for the cashier to verify the situation makes one temporarily look like a criminal scumbag. The alternative however, as displayed here, can be much worse and occurs imo for no good reason.

    How about a warm smile, a pointed mention of the paid register and an overt willingness to stand by briefly. Getting defensive immediately makes them suspicious and aggressive, whereas a pleasant calm will likely disarm them and lead to you leaving 5 seconds later.

    I am not a fan of control freaks, but I pick my battles.

    Now, as far as I know employees are never supposed to chase people down, security guards even usually stand down and relay the power to local police. The liability involved in tackling someone for stolen batteries or whatever just ain’t worth it.

  128. @Corporate-Shill: considering the availability of digital camcorders why hasn’t somebody provided a little video of such incidents?

    Because our storytellers don’t plan a confrontation in advance.

  129. girly says:

    I think a while back on one of these, I suggested that the harassed customer call a TV station

  130. girly says:

    @WraithSama: yes!

  131. thesabre says:

    @MountainCop: So the shopper is pissed because he was assumed guilty, but it’s okay to assume the security guard is guilty of making a threat? Where is the proof that the guard threatened to kick someone’s ass? Isn’t he also innocent until proven guilty? Just like the consumer is innocent until proven guilty in regards to shoplifting/leaving the store with purchased merchandise.

  132. girly says:

    @GregGates: Good point about the liability. It appears with all of these incidents that Wal-Mart is failing to drive home to employees what they can and cannot do, almost as if they are counting on the employees being misguided and heavy handed even though it is wrong and illegal.

    If this guy has the moxie, maybe he could sue so Wal-Mart makes sure there employees understand the law.

  133. backbroken says:

    Berlin, 1942: “Your papers, pleaze! I must see zee papers!!”

    Wal-Mart, Anytown USA, 2008: “Your receipt, please! I must see your receipt!!”

  134. cwsterling says:

    so people are talking about a day where they get a ton of people to exit the store at once with out showing the receipt, how about the reverse, spend like 150 or so in the store (shiver…) and make them check every item, get 20 people to do that and the line will become huge and make sure it is the same person the entire time, i mean we can’t have more then one person checking receipts, people might be getting away with stuff.

  135. thaShady says:

    I went to Wal-Mart last night with the intent to cause a scene if they tried to stop me and check my receipt. The greeter had their back turned and didnt ask me :(

  136. newfenoix says:

    @girly: This isn’t just a Wal Mart problem. Many companies use these Gestapo-like tactics in dealing with customers. I wonder if they understand that they are in business to make money. If you run customers off you don’t make money. If you violate their civil rights, you get sued. With so many salivating attorneys around it boggles the mind that any company would act this way.

  137. BronzeHammer says:

    @MountainCop @newfenoix:

    Okay, so cops are cops 24/7. Of course, I understand both of you didn’t say anything about justifying the officer’s behavior in question, but what sort of reasonable suspicion could he (or any officer randomly on the scene not witness to a crime) have had that qualified him to detain the OP? Is it enough that the people on the scene identified him as a trouble maker? It seems like if it doesn’t pass the litmus test for the store, it doesn’t for the officer.

    Does anyone know anything about the cop’s request for ID?

  138. thaShady says:

    I plan on walking out next time and when they ask to see my receipt, I will simply ask “Do you have any reason to suspect that I stole anything?” And if they say no then I will say “Then go fuck yourself.”

  139. bohemian says:

    They are not following the burden of proof to accuse someone of shoplifting as a bunch of people have said.

    I get a receipt for every single thing I buy. I do it for tax purposes since we can write off sales tax on our federal taxes being in a no income tax state. Not that I think people need to be giving in to these receipt checks but if someone gets really stupid you at least do have the receipt on you.

    I think what needs to happen is more of the people getting wrongly accused of shoplifting need to either press charges against these companies or sue them. With how often it is happening it sounds like a good income stream for some underemployed lawyer. I think this is the only way to really stop it is to force Walmart to waste lots of money on legal cases.

    I quit shopping at Home Depot after a couple of stories of unlawful detainment and sending collection agencies after people falsely accused of shoplifting. I rarely go to Walmart, usually only for something I can’t find elsewhere. Between the sugar incident and the woman who spent 2 days in jail over money orders I’m totally done with Walmart. There is nothing I need bad enough to risk criminal charges or jail.

  140. Parting says:

    @cwsterling: Simple solution : separate customers that paid from the rest of the store by a wall, and create a separate exit, too.

    That way, the store knows which customers paid, and which not.

    But that would require investments, and ”always low prices” do not want to invest in good customer service. (My local Walmart has a bathroom that looks like it was renovated the last time in ’80, and cleaned for the last time in ’90)

  141. Parting says:

    @GregGates: I got an ”alarm” ring on me once in Walmart. I stopped and waited for a minute to see if anyone will demagnetize/check my purchase.

    And you know, NO ONE even bothered. I just went my way, since no employee seemed concerned.

  142. mantari says:

    @danthemank: Oooops. I think you just blamed the victim again.

  143. Dobernala says:

    @danthemank: That is not how it works. They do not have a right to make you show you receipt. They can implement a policy and ban you from the store, but they have no actual power to DETAIN you and make you subject to an interrogation.

  144. plasticredtophat says:

    Hmm, That sucks that happened to him. In Good Ol New Hampshire, rarely have I seen a person checking recipts. Maybe on big shopping days, but rarely. I usually just walk right by them too..

  145. hallam says:

    It is called slander by deed and it can be very very expensive for the likes of Wal-Mart.

    Go see a lawyer, they will probably be willing to take the case on a contingency basis.

  146. hallam says:

    @danthemank: On the contrary, you do not lose your rights just because you happen to be on someone else’s property.

  147. allstarecho says:

    @VikingP77: IF this happened to me, I’d act accordingly.. I’d go back to the cashier and request a receipt. Problem solved. No drama, no off duty police officers having to waste their day off, no rent-a-cops having to get all happy because they finally found something to do like “beat my ass”.. none of that. However, this will never happen to me because I know I’m going to be asked for a receipt in the first place and I never, ever walk away from the cashier without my receipt and without the correct receipt. The SHEEPLE are the confrontational idiots looking to start something so they can run home and report it to Consumerist and hope for their daily post of fame.

  148. AaronDeion says:

    This must have happened at a Bizzro-world Walmart, because at the store I’m familiar with, I’ve seen them blithely allow teenagers walk out with stolen Cd’s, DVDs and clothes without so much as a backward glance regardless of how many customers come forwarrd, point the kid out and yell,”HE’S STEALING FROM YOU !!”

  149. BronzeHammer says:

    @allstarecho: I think I speak for everyone here at the Consumerist when I say that you’re either A) an asshole trolling the comments or B) an asshole who can’t imagine someone protecting his own rights. Either way, you’re an asshole.

    If you don’t want your rights, then don’t enjoy them. Whatever. I couldn’t care any less how you let people walk all over you. As for me, I’m a man who doesn’t put up with shit from someone just because it’s inconvenient. It’s called standing up for yourself, and that’s all it is, whether you can comprehend that or not. Here are the facts:

    I dont have to show a receipt.

    Therefore, I won’t.

    If anyone tries to make me, we have a problem.

    This has no bearing on you showing your receipt.

    We all get that you think it’s stupid. Hey, don’t do it. I don’t give a flying fuck what you do. You can let the cops search your car just by asking, you can volunteer information at the check-out line, and you can show your receipt. But it’s not un-newsworthy just because you say so. In fact, the existence of our disagreement, the involvement of a large company, and the legal ramifications relevant to the post are the things that make these posts quite germane to the Consumerist audience.

  150. RedSonSuperDave says:

    Look, allstarecho, I don’t know what country you’re in, but here in America we have a serious and under-reported problem with Giant Evil Corporationâ„¢s thinking and acting like they are the law. Do you want to live in the world of Robocop? I sure as hell don’t.

    I’m not necessarily a confrontational idiot, but one of the surest ways to provoke me is to accuse me of being a thief. Asking me to show my receipt to PROVE that I bought something is an indirect accusation. I’m terribly sorry that their idiotic store policy says that they have to check my receipt, but I don’t work there and I don’t care about their policy.

    Sure, I could just play along, be a good little German, and show my papers when the man tells me to, whether he has any legal right to do so or not. However, I don’t. This crap isn’t going to change because a bunch of people “didn’t want to cause a scene”. If and when it changes, it’s going to be because Wal-Mart is tired of dealing with stories like these, tired of fighting lawsuits in court, and tired of having charges pressed against their over-enthusiastic rent-a-goons. If I can help to bring that change about any sooner, I will, not because I want 15 minutes of fame on the Consumerist Comments page, but because I want GECs to realize that their store policy is not the law.

    I guess that makes me a sheep.

  151. jonworld says:

    @Cliff_Donner:AMAZING IDEA!!!!

  152. Shmonkmonk says:

    Oh my goodness, for the life of me I can’t understand why Wal-Mart ignores the 4 steps of proof (5- depending on where you work). In all the retail companies I’ve worked of, the 4 steps were drilled into my head and I was told, that I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT even approach someone with the intention of even implying they stole something unless the 4 steps of proof was met. If I were stupid enough to do so, I would be disciplined, possibly fired- depending on if the company got sued or not. I assumed it was industry standard.

    The 4 steps are actions/situations/criterias that has to be met before apprehending someone.

    Oh stupid Wal-Mart! Surely, they must know by now that 60-80% of all theft is internal (industry standard) and most of external theft comprise of shady ass returns and big scale retail theft organizations.

  153. Alger says:

    @karmaghost: So what’s up with this, anyhow? Wal*Mart does receipt checking, the cashier knows this, and the cashier THROWS OUT THE RECEIPT ANYHOW?

    Is this how they entertain themselves?

  154. christoj879 says:

    @timmus: I’m gonna guess either MD (as the blog says DC) or PA as there is both a Germantown and Butler in both Montgomery counties in both states.

    This story would have been MUCH more interesting if the guy pulled a pistol (as many commenters write that they carry to protect their receipt-hiding rights), killed a few employees and engaged in a shoot-out with the cop and the ensuing police.

  155. lefty_redhead says:

    danthemank: You have no rights in a store besides the right to not shop there anymore … if they want to make you show your receipt before you leave, that’s there perogative, if you didn’t get one, be prepared to defend yourself.

    The US Constitution applies everywhere in the US. It does not stop at the door of the beast. I guess you just smile and say thank you when a store employee ties you up and leaves you in a closet for a week, since you don’t have any rights in a store.

    Stop shopping at WalMart, America. My office is located in front of a WalMart, and I have not set foot in one in over five years. You too, can share my success by simply going somewhere that doesn’t suck. Really, is $2 really worth giving up your rights and your soul?

    And don’t let danthemank be your attorney.

  156. mikelotus says:

    @scerwup: yea, but maryland is not out on the frontier. the area has been civilized for quite awhile now

  157. dualityshift says:

    @Cliff_Donner: Some group needs to orchestrate a “Leave Wal-Mart Without Showing Your Receipt” Day.

    Go make a facebook group.

  158. mikelotus says:

    @cametall: he did it so we could hear you bitch like a sow in heat.

  159. ShadowFalls says:

    I do like how they say, if you are innocent, then you should be fine if we checked your bags, receipt, etc.

    But they seem to be oblivious to the insult that they are saying you are a thief till you prove otherwise.

    I wish there was a store built up around you ordering everything online and just go to the store and your order is ready. Just present an order number and complete the purchase with your payment method. Only theft in that case would be by employees.

  160. chrylis says:

    @scoli83: This actually varies from state to state. In Texas, he’d be unjustified in using deadly force in response to mere verbal threats, but the use of deadly force is justified in detaining someone who’s committed any felony (such as appropriate assault).

  161. frogman31680 says:

    Ok, did everyone for walmart’s side of the story completely miss the main facts as to why this is bogus…

    1. It’s Sugar… A commonly high theft item? I think not.
    2. It was in a bag. Most stores will NOT just give you a bag if you ask for it. And, I’m sure that this bag was not crinkled so bad that it looked like it was in his pocket.
    3. Did a security device go off saying there was a chance that this person was stealing? If not, then there went their chance at reasonable doubt.
    4. Did anyone witness this person stealing and ADMIT to seeing it? Nope.

    Now, I don’t condone that everyone go out and try to steal sugar from walmart. But, After the billions of dollars a day that walmart brings in, I think it can take a couple bucks worth of sugar out of that equation.

    I applaud the guy for a few things.

    1. not showing his receipt. Why? Cause we don’t have to.
    2. From the story, for not being belligerent. I would have not had the temper left after they tried to rip the bags from my hands, and threatened to kick my ass.
    3. Knowing when to cooperate with police. Even though that’s the right thing to do, I would have told the cop that after what I had been through tell the Walmart Gestapo to go get my receipt.

    I would have pressed charges against the manager, security guard, and walmart in general for holding me against my will, wrongful detainment, assault, and possibly sued for the same as above including public humiliation. Walmart can afford it. Just a few less rollbacks the next month.

    The only one that I feel sorry for other than the guy this happened to is the guy on the register. Even though it started with him, and it is a COMMON accident, he probably got fired for this. The store manager probably justified his actions to his superior and made the story out to be this kids fault that the gentleman was wrongfully detained and verbally assaulted.

    All for an accident that anyone of us could have done in a matter of seconds with the amount of people that pass through those lines.

    I shall now stand down from my soapbox for the next person to post.

  162. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    @scerwup:
    If you use deadly force in response to such a threat the jury is going to put you in prison.

    You must be able to clearly articulate a legitimate fear of life or serious injury, and have no other way to mitigate that threat before responding with deadly force.

    You can use deadly force to stop a theft at night, but only if you can articulate that talking to the thief was too dangerous (shouldn’t be that hard, I had a friend in high school stabbed to death over that).

  163. chrysrobyn says:

    Seems like unlawful detainment to me. What probable cause would any individual have for believing that someone stole sugar between the checkout clerk’s desk and the exit? What lawful reason would a security guard have for threatening anyone’s wellbeing? Under what condition should any citizen lawfully inspect another’s property without permission?

    I see no reason to judge others by referring to “sheeple” or talking down to people who say “just show the receipt”, but I also see no reason to allow a righteous security guard to skip by when he’s assaulted me. In Texas, if I feel I’m threatened, I have authority to stop that person using whatever means necessary. Those who receive state sponsored training in firearm safety are told that the best way to “stop” someone is to fire rounds into their chest until they stop appearing as a threat. I won’t touch a gun, so this doesn’t directly apply to me, but certainly there’s an issue of liability here. I don’t know what rights exist under false imprisonment, but I can’t imagine they lean on those who detain without due cause.

    Any employee who feels empowered to threaten to kick someone’s ass should be fired on the spot.

    I have not shown a receipt in 10 years and I have never been confronted about my policy either. If it came to that, I will show my receipt to the arresting officer only after charges have been filed.

  164. @Michael Belisle:

    Nope, I would not think to film myself either.

    But I do carry MY digital camera that can record movies everywhere I go and I have recorded plenty of crap (including a hit and run fender bender). I am sure I would whip out my camera if I saw a knock-down drag out fight / disagreement going on at WallyWorld. I must wonder why others have not done the same?

  165. Dobernala says:

    @chrysrobyn:
    “In Texas, if I feel I’m threatened, I have authority to stop that person using whatever means necessary”

    No, you do not. You’ll probably land yourself in jail.

  166. parrotuya says:

    Avoid all these problems by never shopping at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart sucks. Its customers are all trailer park trash. The security is trailer park trash. Wal-Mart customers are also a bunch of fat-asses. Its management should be waterboarded. Those of you who love Wal-Mart and/or defend it are losers. I will say it again. YOU ARE LOSERS IF YOU DEFEND OR LOVE WAL-MART. Wal-Mart sucks and so do you, losers.

  167. shmousie says:

    @RumorsDaily: I believe it’s “First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women.”

  168. parnote says:

    @cametall: Probably not, but you are the first of the flock of sheep willing to give up your rights! You’ll also probably be one of the first screaming as our rights erode away … and all because you and the members of your “flock” refused to stand up and protect them.

  169. mickey72 says:

    A couple of months ago I stopped in to buy paint and picked up a few grocery items. The greeter watched me check out and saw that my arms were loaded with groceries & couple of cans of paint. He still felt the need to ask for my receipt. I told him it was in my pocket and kept walking. He called after me several times but I never stopped.

    I would hope that I’d have the frame of mind to turn my camera phone on before he threatened to kick my ass.

  170. the_hitman says:

    There is no way in the world I would have showed my receipt. Arrest me, then get hit with a 42 usc 1983 lawsuit as well as civil lawsuit.

  171. yevarechecha says:

    Wow. I’ve lived in Montgomery County, MD my entire life and never knew that there was a Wal-Mart in Germantown. Probably because that’s a 15-minute drive and I can get to a Target in 5 minutes, therefore there was never any reason to look. Thanks to this story, I know they exist, and I still will not be shopping there.

    The police around here are generally pretty competent, but there are always rockheads in every group. This one sounds like a real prize.

  172. bvita says:

    1. File a criminal complaint of assault against the Walmart security officer. A threat of physical attack is an assault.

    2. File a civil complaint against Walmart, the manager and the security officers for false imprisonment, slander and defamation of character. Seek damages. Some ambulance chaser will take your case on contingency

    3. Contact the police chief in the jurisdiction that the off-duty cop was from and advise him that you will be retaining counsel to seek a false imprisonment action against the city for the officer’s action.

    4. Call your local TV stations “consumer” reporter.

  173. bravo369 says:

    I think for everyone that says you have every right to refuse to show the receipt…fine. go ahead. but i think walmart or any other store has every right to call the police and report a shoplifter. get the license plate and a picture, show the police and let them sort it out. maybe in that way walmart can avoid confrontation and these posts but when the police show up at your house telling you they are investigating a report of shoplifting then maybe people will cooperate. like i said, refuse if you want. maybe they’ll do something, maybe they won’t. if they do decide to do something then don’t complain and write letters to consumerist about it.

  174. Sigh.

    Anyone think someone intent on shoplifting will refuse to show a receipt?

    Anyone?

    Or does anyone think that a shoplifter will think: “Here’s my plan. When I get to the door, I’ll just keep walking and risk arrest.”

    Anyone?

  175. intellivised says:

    I no longer shop at Wal-Mart unless under duress (I live in a smaller city) and before I ever became concerned with Consumerist type things or knew about anything going on stopped shopping @ Best Buy for the simple reason that the whole “show your receipt” nonsense turned me off of the store forever. Our Wal-Mart here – the few times I’ve been there – doesn’t seem to check receipts and in fact most of the time the greeter type guy has been either reading or asleep. I’m pretty sure where I live (which takes public privacy type things pretty damn seriously) a widespread checking crack down would result in a pretty nasty backlash (I live in WY).

    The worst store for receipt checking that I’ve been to is Guitar Center. Just sayin’. My one or two actually making a purchase experiences there have sent me back to local shops forever even in the face of slightly higher prices. The level of douchebaggery at your average Guitar Center is astounding. Again – the hassle of a receipt check drives me batshit crazy and is a great way to make me never purchase anything in your store at all ever…. though – in GC’s defense (at least the one I go to) they at least have the presence of mind to put the most attractive rocker type girls ever as the receipt checker/door person.

  176. t325 says:

    Wait, so security has no right to suspect you of theft when you can’t or refuse to produce a receipt? What if the guy really was stealing and what if he had something more expensive than sugar?

    Look, I hate Wal-Mart just as much as the next guy, but if I’m a security guard, and you refuse to show me a receipt, I’m going to think you’re stealing and will call the cops. Plain and simple. The receipt is proof that you paid for the merchandise. If you cannot show such proof, then I would assume you didn’t pay and prosecute your ass. I know this guy didn’t have a receipt, but he could’ve gone back to the cashier who would confirm he paid for that. Instead, he wanted to make a big scene over it, not show proof that he paid for it, and he faced the consequences.

    If stores not raising prices due to losses from theft means I have to show my receipt on the way out, I’m all for that. It takes 10 seconds, and I’m never in such a hurry that I can’t spare those 10 seconds. And if your schedule for the day is so tight that you cannot spare those 10 seconds, perhaps you need to go shopping on a different day.

    Sorry, no sympathy for the guy.

  177. t325 says:

    @backbroken: Oh please, do you know how fucking childish you sound comparing Nazi Germany to a fucking WAL-MART? I have Jewish ancestors who lived in Germany at that time, and some of them who didn’t make it out of the concentration camps alive, and I find it appalling and offensive that you would compare what they and 10 million other people went through to shopping for groceries.

  178. donkeyjote says:

    @t325: Not showing a receipt is not valid reason to suspect shoplifting. That’s like saying not allowing a police officer to illegally search your car is reason to suspect your hiding something, and hence he has probable cause to search your car.

    @t325: And about the Nazi’s. Do you think they went from nice people to mass murderers overnight? How do you think it started out? Small disregard for civil liberties by corporations and police.

  179. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    @twophrasebark: You are a rapist of children and dogs. What’s that you say? You deny it? Does anyone here think someone diddling Bobby and Fido will admit to it?
    Anyone?

    @t325: Yes, a receipt is a proof of purchase. But it isn’t the ONLY proof of purchase. This rent-a-dude could have used the following other proofs of purchase:
    1) Pulled the last receipt from the computer/register he was just at.
    2) The video of the guy handing over the cash and the cashier handing over the merchandise.
    3) I dunno, ASK THE DAMN CASHIER FIRST NEXT TIME?
    And what about the government tapping your phone? Maybe the next time you’re talking to wifey about what you are going to do to her when you get home? That doesn’t take any of your time, either. You may not even know it is going on. But, since you have nothing to hide, let me do it and I will post it on youtube.

    An invasion of privacy is an invasion of privacy.

  180. forgottenpassword says:

    someone needs to wear a hidden camera while doing this. Just to see how security, employees & the manager react. Then post it online. Would be very interesting.

    Of course…. best to do this in a one party consent state (when it refers to legally recording a conversation).

  181. godlyfrog says:

    @bravo369: That’s called filing a false report, which is a crime. If Wal-Mart calls the police every time they think someone walked out the door with something they didn’t pay for, most of the time, they will be wrong and will be wasting taxpayer money, all because Wal-Mart doesn’t want to hire enough people to prevent the theft by monitoring the checkouts.

    @t325: Do you know the concept of presumed innocence? I’m sure you do, everyone does. The concept is the basis of most law systems, including the Constitution, and actually goes as far back as the book of Deuteronomy in the bible. This concept applies to all areas of our law, both civil and criminal (though it’s been reversed in some situations such as involuntary committals). When they ask for your receipt, they have no reason to suspect you’ve stolen anything at that point, as well they shouldn’t, because if they had fulfilled the legal requirements necessary to suspect you, they wouldn’t be asking you for a receipt, they’d be walking you into the back office. If they were to suspect you of shoplifting because you refuse to show you the receipt, it’s the equivalent of finding you guilty because you can’t or won’t prove your innocence.

    I know it’s quicker to just comply, but it’s Wal-Mart that’s being confrontational for even asking. Regardless of who is right in this instance, it’s bad customer service to ask your customer to pay one person for an item, then prove to another person that you paid for it shortly thereafter.

  182. boomerang86 says:

    For every one time I shop at a Wal-Mart, I must go nine or ten times to the Target around the corner instead. The staff are MUCH nicer, checkout is 100% faster, and the store is much cleaner too. Prices are not much different.

    Funny thing is we have a LOT of shrinkage issues in NY state Wal-Mart stores, however I haven’t had a WMT greeter check my receipt on exit in YEARS.

  183. Dobernala says:

    @t325: The legal standard requires several things be met; one of them is that they actually SEE you stealing the item(s) in question. Not showing a receipt is not sufficent grounds to prove shoplifting.

    Hence Wal-Mart is in the wrong, legally.

  184. Dobernala says:

    @t325: I don’t think anyone compared Wal Mart to a concentration camp. Get a grip of yourself and stop basing your moral authority on something that allegedly happened a long time ago.

  185. Dobernala says:

    @bravo369: The police don’t have time to investigate someone who didn’t show a receipt at their home. There isn’t much they can do anyway – they would have no legal authority to perform a search or seize the goods you purchased on the mere grounds you didn’t show a receipt.

  186. wagnerism says:

    Organize a mass no-receipt walk-out?
    Get a video camera at ready to run the gauntlet?
    Fantasize about breaking through the greeter barrier with guns’a’blaring?
    Baiting them to create some scene to make lawyers rich?
    Put up with being presumed guilty?

    Get a life.

    just. stop. shopping. there.

    Seriously, all of this trolling, godwinning and constitution thumping is moot with the idea of shopping elsewhere right in front of you.

    Other places sell sugar.

  187. Pro-Pain says:

    @allstarecho: STFU you idiot. Wal-Mart is in the wrong here. PERIOD. I would have thrown a fit so big they would have had to call the FBI. You’re just a typical sheep pussy! Grow some balls boy.

  188. Dobernala says:

    @wagnerism: At the very least, if you’re being victimized at one store, there is no point in going back there.

    Some people enjoy the confrontation though.

  189. Tom Servo says:

    As if we needed more reasons to not shop at Wal-Mart. What a disgraceful company.

  190. EellenAspasia says:

    It is actual wal-mart policy that they cannot touch, tackle, detain ot
    threaten a customer once outside of the store— for that matter it is
    illegal for any hourly store employees including securtiy to physically
    handle a customer attempting to leave a store whether they are on
    suspicion of stealing or not…the only time they are allowed to make
    physical contact is when the customer or “suspect” initiates such a
    transaction……that is why they tuant you and stand directly in front
    of you to get the opportunity to initiate force. All they can simply
    do is ofollow you to your car and take your license # or follow you
    until you are off their property but by that time police should already
    have been called and on the way- they call it an attempt to stall —-on
    another note if a consumer is accused of stealing and is detained for
    being suspected of this crime and the store is proven wrong the consumer
    has the right to request 500.00 or sue for that amount.

  191. allstarecho says:

    @Pro-Pain: That’s real mature. You can’t defend the drama queen who didn’t want to show his receipt so you have to resort to calling me names? Poor him, Wally world wanted to see his receipt. In the words of the great Artie Lange, “WHHAAAAAaaaa!”

  192. macMD says:

    The last time I checked WalMart had more cameras than a SuperMax prison watching everything and everyone in their store. They know who stole wnat and when. They have no legal right to threaten you with bodily harm, the off duty cop should close his mouth or risk a civil suit. I could care less if its his freakin day off or he’s on his way to church. He chose to get involved so should act professionally.

    What really gets me is why do people shop there in the first place especially after they see how people get treated by the walmart supercops who couldn’t get a job working in a Russian prison.

  193. catnapped says:

    “You know, if Wal-Mart manages to catch just one terrorist trying to buy fertilizer for a bomb, you’ll thank them for having the forethought to be checking receipts!!!”

    or something like that….

  194. TedAtBSYTYCD says:

    Oh man, I hate to find myself in the position of defending WalMart. I don’t shop there and try to avoid it at all costs, but being a libertarian means respecting property rights. Yes, even the property rights of “evil” corporations.

    Did they handle this situation correctly? Absolutely not, if this account can be believed. Do they have the right to protect their inventory? Yes!

    To those who are upset that they did this over a mere 4 bags of sugar, I really, really need clarification on this. Is it because it was only 4 bags? Where is the line drawn, 5 bags? 10 bags? Or is it not about amount but because it’s ONLY sugar? If I were able to get into a warehouse with a forklift and start hauling out pallets of sugar, is that ok? After all, it’s ONLY sugar.

  195. XianZomby says:

    @cloudedice: He must not have shown his license when he payed with a credit card, either.

    Not necessarily directed at you, Cloudedice, but I don’t understand this at all. Why is it a problem to ask customers to show ID for a credit card purchase? I’d like the stores to ask for a license on any purchase that doesn’t require a PIN. For every purchase, every card, every customer. Inconvenient to me, yes. Inconvenient to the guy that steals my credit card or debit card? Even more so. And that would be the point. A required 20 seconds per transaction to show ID could prevent somebody from sliding my ATM card as a credit purchase.

    I’ve been to a lot of places where they slide my debit card and I don’t need to enter a PIN or sign a receipt. That is convenient for me, yes. But they don’t ask for ID either. In those places, and they are increasing in number, anybody could go in with anybody else’s debit card and clean them out. Can you recoup that money from the bank? I don’t know how easy it is to do that. But if you can, it’s not as easy as having to show your ID before sliding the card.

  196. fuzzball21 says:

    I see it now. This guy writes back because he contacted Wal*Mart, and they sent him a nice gift for his troubles as an apology-

    a basket of jams and jellies.

  197. calvinneal says:

    @newcastlebrown At my local Walmart, receipts are sought on the basis of class. Middle Class persons who are well dressed whatever their race are are more apt to be asked for receipts. I don’t know why this is. It appears to be some kind of reverse class war. This is a solid middle class area about 15 Miles north of Detroit. The employees are not residents of the neighborhood. There seems to be a brazen get even mentality by some of the employees against the middle class.I quit shopping there years ago. If you say anything, then it is you who have the problem. WalMart is the worst.

  198. edenj says:

    Yeah…so you are shopping at a Wal-Mart. What do you expect?

    If you shopped at Target, people would understand that you aren’t in a financial position that requires you to possibly steal sugar in the first place.

  199. quagmire0 says:

    At some point people need to just stop with all the ‘I’m defending my rights..blah blah’ drama and just show your **** receipt or comply with what these idiots want. If this guy had just walked back to the checkout line immediately and had the cashier corroborate his story, this whole situation would have lasted around 5 minutes. Instead, he insisted on performing his petty protest and caused an uproar and lost a bag of sugar in the process.

  200. catnapped says:

    @quagmire0: “At some point people need to just stop with all the ‘I’m defending my rights..blah blah’ drama and just comply with what these idiots want”

    Hey, if you want to be a sheep and submit to a strip search (because, hey, it’s their store, their rules), enjoy.

  201. SadSam says:

    When faced with a request for a receipt, I say “no thank you” with a smile and keep walking. Never had any problems.

    I also don’t shop at Wal-Mart, Best Buy or any of the other regular receipt checking locations (for many reasons not just the receipt checking issue).

  202. redwall_hp says:

    Odd, none of the WalMarts around here ask for a receipt… The Sam’s Club does though.

  203. VikingP77 says:

    @t325: Get over YOURSELF! Besides it was a funny comment the only one thats made me laugh so far!
    @allstarecho: AND YOU….if people are drama queens for protecting themselves its not your problem. YOU DON’T CARE and you’ve made that clear. So let Wally World check your receipt. While you are in distracting them at the door I can walk out with my purchases and get on with my life.

  204. pwillow1 says:

    TedAtBSYTYCD: Wal-Mart does have a right to protect its inventory, but in the situation described, these four bags of sugar had been purchased and paid for by the customer. Therefore it was not Wal-Mart’s inventory any longer, it was the personal property of the customer.

    Wal-Mart employees had no right to detain the customer, put their hands on him or require him to produce a receipt to prove he paid for it. Most states — including Maryland where this incident occurred — have merchant statutes which require the merchant to meet several criteria before approaching and detaining a customer for shoplifting.

    As has been enumerated in previous posts by others, the merchant must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise, see the shoplifter select the merchandise, see the shoplifter conceal or carry away or convert the merchandise. Plus the merchant must maintain continuous observation the shoplifter and see the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise. When those criteria have been met, then the merchant can approach the shoplifter outside of the store.

    Merely refusing to show a receipt to a bag checker does not meet the standard of probable cause on the part of the merchant. Therefore, they were wrong in detaining, threatening, harassing, touching, and grabbing the bags of this customer. They were wrong in summoning the police, because they didn’t have probable cause of shoplifting.

    The police officer was also wrong in detaining this shopper. He should have known the relevant laws concerning probable cause.

    The customer was correct in repeatedly asking if he was being detained. Even if he acted in an unreasonable manner as others have suggested (drama queen), it doesn’t negate or diminish his rights.

    A company like Wal-Mart doesn’t get to ignore the state merchant statutes just because they have inventory to protect, or because they’re a big corporation, or because they have their own policies and procedures. Wal-Mart handled this incident disgracefully, and I hope this customer pursues every legal remedy available to him in driving home that message.

  205. @P41: Agreed
    @cametall: Why should he have too? He owns it. The cashier threw it away, not him. It was also in walmart bags.
    @ConsumptionJunkie: I thought so too, 4 bags of sugar? what is that $4? @cosby: You rock!

  206. pigeonpenelope says:

    i’m not surprised this happened. walmart is awful.

  207. @newfenoix:Need more cops out there like you.
    @danthemank: What the hell have you been smoking? I’m going to take a wild stab and say your not a lawyer. Their perogative? Did you just make that up?
    @t325: Yes, they don’t. Unless they saw you in the act, followed you throughout the store, then watched you leave.

  208. stuny says:

    Hey, how do we know he actually paid for the STRAWBERRIES…?

  209. billbobbins says:

    Someone said:”You can only use deadly force to defend yourself, or others, from the use of deadly force, aggravated kidnapping, murder, rape, or robbery. “

    Nope, not in Texas – you have the right to protect your property as well, with deadly force. If someone steals your wallet and runs away, you may shoot him in the back (excuse me – “stop” him). That’s why I love living in Texas – noone has the right to steal your property. Apparently a thief has the right to steal your goods in other states and there is nothing you can do but call the police and file a report. Ridiculous. Every once in a while we will get a thief from out of state here in Texas who does not know our laws. Surprise! Bang!!! I’ll take my wallet back please.

  210. Bruce says:

    Leave Britt^H^H^H^H^H Walmart alone! Walmart is such a nice company for hiring all these disabled people. Look, they hire the thinking impaired and logically challenged and make them receipt checkers!

    Walmart figures that job is so easy, even a Neanderthal could do it.

    “Ugg want’s receipt! Show Ugg receipt!”

    (For those thinking impaired people reading this post, that was called sarcasm)

    PS. For the people who are thinking impaired or logically challenged, does that qualify them for disabled plates?

  211. MonkeySwitch says:

    @AcidReign: Hahaha, the employees at the Wal Mart on Lakeshore Parkway in Birmingham, Alabama can barely stand to stock the shelves or scan your items, much less care to check your receipt. I call that store the Ghetto Mart.

  212. Difdi says:

    @TedAtBSYTYCD:

    Do they have the right to protect their inventory? Yes!

    Yes, absolutely they have the right to protect their inventory. The means to do so are readily available, and include cameras, observant employees, security guards and so forth. However, once you pay for any item, it is no longer part of their inventory, it is a part of your inventory. And just like the store, you have a right to protect your inventory too. All of this is clearly spelled out in the law.

    However, the incident the OP wrote about starts at defamation of character, proceeds to assault, then unarmed battery, then unarmed robbery and unlawful detention. In ascending order, those are a civil tort, a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, another gross misdemeanor, and then finally a felony. Merchant’s Privilege grants a qualified immunity from prosecution for these crimes, but only if the store can meet certain legal criteria, which range from 4 criteria to 7 depending on the exact area. The store met zero. Just because it happens on private property, does not entitle the store to waive your rights for you. If being on private property did so, police would be unable to arrest you in your home…but as everyone knows, that’s not the case.

    @quagmire0:

    At some point people need to just stop with all the ‘I’m defending my rights..blah blah’ drama and just show your **** receipt or comply with what these idiots want. If this guy had just walked back to the checkout line immediately and had the cashier corroborate his story, this whole situation would have lasted around 5 minutes. Instead, he insisted on performing his petty protest and caused an uproar and lost a bag of sugar in the process.

    Why is it drama to not tolerate libel or slander? Why is it drama to resist when a violent crime is committed against your person?

    Accusing someone falsely of being a thief is not permissible. Someone so defamed can sue and will win, because it can cause very real financial and social harm. A receipt checker indirectly accuses everyone they see of being a thief, since they are asking those people to prove they are not stealing. While not a crime per se, it is a civil tort. Big companies with deep pockets that do this sort of thing is why lawyering is so lucrative an occupation.

    Someone blocking your path or threatening you, either physically (a clenched raised fist) or verbally (“I will kick your ass”) is committing the crime of assault. It’s a fairly minor crime as these things go, ‘merely’ a misdemeanor, more often punished with a warning, a fine or community service than jail time. But it is still a crime, and it’s not dramatic at all to not submit to it.

    Someone touching you without your consent, particularly after committing assault is battery, which is a crime. It happens all the time accidentally, in crowds. But with hostile intent, it becomes a misdemeanor. Like assault, this does not commonly result in jail time. Actually causing injury with your touch, even pain without an actual injury, is a gross misdemeanor, and often does involve jail time, as well as hefty fines. If someone commits a violent crime against you, you have the right to defend yourself with an equivalent level of force. It’s not the least bit dramatic to defend yourself when battered. The OP showed a great deal of restraint in not engaging in physical self defense, and attempting to keep the altercation verbal, despite the actions of the Wal-mart employees. But make no mistake, you intentionally touch another citizen at your peril.

    Physically grabbing and/or destroying someone else’s property in their immediate presence is unarmed robbery, which is a gross misdemeanor. Like battery that causes injury, this is most definitely a crime that involves jail time if convicted. If even the most innocuous of weapons is present, even if not used (such as a keychain kubotan or a security guard billy club) then it escalates to armed robbery which is a felony. It is not even remotely pointless drama to resist when someone commits a violent felony against you. The person who does not resist such an attack is probably deeply and urgently in need of a psychiatrist, since non-resistance is not exactly a healthy response to robbery, bot in the psychological sense and in the very real physical one. You are absolutely entitled to defend yourself against a violent felony. If badly outnumbered or massively outweighed in force (such as a large man attacking a small woman) then deadly force is justified.

    Then we have the felony of unlawful detention. Of the lot, this one carries the nastiest criminal penalties, as it’s not all that large a step below kidnapping. Such detention can come about in a number of ways; Simply locking a door so you can’t get out counts. Physically piling on you and tying you up (or sitting on you) is also detention. Legally, when faced with violent unlawful detention, particularly when outnumbered, deadly force can easily be justified. Ideally, you’d draw your weapon and warn them off rather than simply quick-drawing like Clint Eastwood and blazing away (which would be difficult to justify, without at least an attempt to de-escalate the altercation), but if one of those store employees got into a fight with someone while committing a felony against that person and was maimed or even killed…it would not be the victim who goes to prison. Resisting such unlawful detention is not drama. Such detention is unauthorized, illegal force with deadly threat, and you engage in it at great peril. If you are the aggressor in committing a violent felony, and manage to kill your victim, a claim of self-defense (“He fought back, we were afraid he’d kill us!”) is not going to save you.

    And finally, across a VERY thin line from unlawful detention lies kidnapping. Kidnapping is a federal capital crime. Where is the line drawn? It’s hard to say, but a good test would be whether the store calls the police immediately after detaining you. If they toss you in a locked room and let you sit for a few hours, that’s not merely detention anymore. Literally ANY level of force or action used to resist a kidnapper is legally justified, provided it is only employed against the kidnapper(s); Threatening or harming an innocent bystander remains illegal. Set a fire to distract guards while you escape? Go for it. Destroy a wall? Sure. Kill everyone in a store uniform who tries to stop you on your way out? Iffy, but very likely to be ok too. And if you survive your attempt at kidnapping someone, you get to talk to the FBI afterwards. They don’t like kidnappers AT ALL

  213. bwcbwc says:

    Let’s see: “I’m gonna kick your ass” and grabbing your bags sounds like a potential assault charge to me. Heck, maybe even an attempted petty theft. He was trying to take your property.

    Walmart goes after shoplifters very aggressively no matter what the amount. One of my relatives was legitimately caught by them and after the no-contest plea and withheld adjudication they filed a civil claim for damages plus legal costs totaling about $150. The original offense was drinking a bottle out of a multi-pack container, and then putting the pack back on the shelf.

  214. scoli83 says:

    @newfenoix: Actually, not only do I live in Texas, but I also cited Texas law and I will be taking the Texas bar exam at the end of July.

  215. scerwup says:

    @Everyone who had comments about defending myself…
    While shooting the “security guard” may in fact be the wrong thing to do, I said I would shock the shit out of him with my stun gun, which IS perfectly legal here, when being threatened, which very much did happen. As for shooting the “unarmed security guard”… First of all, he was trying to detain someone, when he had absolutely no right to do that. That is kidnapping, I think the actual crime is called something else, but it amounts to the same thing, and is a threat to my life, as well as a crime that you can defend yourself from. He threatened physical violence, as well as tried to take the OP’s property from him…

    “As I left, he grabbed my bags, ripping them open. As he followed me he attempted to grab my bags, and grab the items inside of my bags. At one point, he told me that he should “kick my ass.” As I reached the end of sidewalk outside the store and headed towards my car in the parking lot, another employee came running and blocked my path.”

    All three of those things are covered in Texas law, and all three are allowed to be defended from. While yes, it is taught in CCW courses to try not to escalate things, it seems to me that the security guard and all the other people that were surrounding and threatening the OP in the parking lot were escalating it fairly well, and to tell the truth, that would have scared the crap out of me, a bunch of people following me, grabbing at me, saying they were going to hurt me, and not letting me go. I don’t have a license to carry, nor do I care for one, but if he had pulled out a gun and defended himself from what could very well have been perceived as life threatening, I’m pretty sure ANY decent lawyer could have pointed out all the facts that I just pointed out and the guy would have been fine.

    By the way everyone, don’t try this in your state, I’m speaking of Texas, I don’t know about elsewhere, but here in Texas, when threatened with physical violence, someone trying to take your property, and someone try trying to stop you from leaving (not a police officer), you are allowed to defend yourself. Don’t let ANYONE tell you you can’t defend yourself!!!

  216. lakecountrydave says:

    It was Maryland. As Germans are one of the largest ethnic groups to immigrate to this country there are a great many so named towns through out the country in areas where they settled. Here is a link to the orchard mentioned in the story.

    [www.butlersorchard.com]

    I beleive the guy mad two mistakes. The first and biggest was shopping at Wal-mart. You give them books and give them books, but all they do is eat the covers. The other error has also already been mentioned. He should have insisted on filing charges against those who violated his rights. Wal-mart was ready and willing to use the authorities to uphold (and even expand) their rights, but consumers are reluctant to do so. They are even flamed on this site for saying they should have.

  217. nikalseyn says:

    It’s too bad stores like Meijer in Michigan have become such jerks, what with long lines at regular lanes, only one manned express lane and their silly self serve checkout lanes, which only fools use. Too bad, because I have found Walmart to be much faster to check out, tho the little old lady at the door will sometimes ask to see your receipt if something is not bagged. My wife always grabs the receipt when I pay because she knows I will not stop to prove I am not a criminal. I have never had anyone try to stop me, either. But, all in all, I would never shop Walmart if Meijer got back on track again with good customer service.

  218. eben56 says:

    I am SO tired of Walmart stories. I will no longer shop there. If I am at a family members house and I suspect that some of their goods came from Walmart, I will make it a policy to ask.. And refuse to eat anything that came from there.
    Walmart violates civil rights, they use Medicade as their health plan. But US assholes keep purchasing there. Because through our three teeth we are just amazed at the price choppers. What happened to quality. I just got rid of an RCA TV that I bought in 1976.(25″) Why, because its basically no good in a few months.
    Just so tired of us screwing ourselves. The only reason Walmart is still headquartered in US is because no one else will accept them. But why shouldn’t they just keep on, we are the ones shopping there.

  219. eben56 says:

    I love the term SHEEPLE. You keep going going. Stand up for what makes this country weak.

  220. ThyGuy says:

    You are beginning to see the culture divide now that will one day destroy this country. People who know they have rights, but not absolute rights to do whatever they please, and people who exploit the rights to do as they please.

    When the war begins; I hope the second group is silenced permanently.

  221. mxjohnson says:

    He never should have shown his receipt.

    I’ll say it again: He never should have shown his receipt. Had he instead politely declined, I bet they would’ve let him go without challenge. As I posted before, I walked out with a PS3. I was verbally challenged, and insulted, but not detained or arrested or assaulted.

    When the receipt didn’t match the merchandise, the security guard grew suspicious. And you can’t blame him. Much of the theft at Wal*Mart involves the cooperation of an employee.

    I once had a student who was arrested when she was working at Wal*Mart for stealing. If she was ringing up a friend, the priciest items wouldn’t get scanned. They’d just go in the bag, gratis. Not a bright girl, and not an honest one, but I do believe her when she told me that there were plenty of cashiers doing the same thing.

    This, by the way, is probably why the greeter/loss prevention associate stops people even though he or she can see the checkout lanes. And it’s probably why it doesn’t matter whether it’s in a Wal*Mart bag.

    So to all y’all who argue we should all consent to be searched and detained when it suits the Wal*Mart corporation, may I politely point out that had the sugar man defended his rights from the beginning, none of this would have happened.

    And finally, we all know that if Wal*Mart employees are devious thieves — where, say, Target employees apparently aren’t — there’s a totally obvious solution that doesn’t include forced searches and detentions of innocent shoppers.

  222. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Call the police and file a report. First, the off duty guy should be in a lot of trouble for playing police officer while not on the clock. And the people assaulting you while leaving and detaining you did break the law. It is so disturbing how the police are siding with stores over these receipt incidents. The police are supposed to know that showing a receipt is not necessary and that not showing a receipt is not evidence or probable cause of theft. This trend of police officers not knowing the law is disturbing.

  223. AgentTuttle says:

    @karmaghost: @karmaghost: “making sure you have that stupid piece of paper makes things a lot easier for everyone.” Hey Ghost, why not drink the KoolAid while you’re at it? If we just do what we’re told and forget that we have rights, it’ll be a lot easier. Bullshit. If we all stand up for ourselves, maybe there will be a 4th Amendment left next week.

  224. gpatrick says:

    I hate to defend wal-mart. When you go into any business not just wal-mart the constitution does not apply. However, they still have to follow laws. What I would of done, is asked them to print a duplicate receipt out. If they didn’t know how, I would of asked for a manager right then and there. My wal-mart store does not check for receipts. However, they know me as a regular.

  225. TPS Reporter says:

    If I am going to spend my money there, I don’t need to PROVE I didn’t steal something. Now, if I have a TV set between my knees that is a cause of suspicion. Is what someone ought to do is go there with another person. Have that person stand beyond the register area, and then you go and buy 1 item, checkout and get a receipt. Hand the bag to the other person, then you go back and buy another 1 item. Do that like 25 times and get a receipt each time. Then leave and when they ask for receipts, hand them the stack of 25 and let the guy spend 20 minutes going thru all this paid merchandise. It would at least be amusing.

  226. MKrick says:

    I recently went to Wal-Mart to buy a Printer. (I did try Target first but their selection was hoooorrrible)

    After purchasing my items I was leaving and had the printer box over my shoulder in my right arm (unbagged), a bag of ink and other stuff in my left arm and the checker asks for my receipt. I didn’t wanna put my stuff down and dig through my pockets so I politely said “No Thank You.” and walked out.

    The dumbfounded look on the kids face was *priceless*! I don’t think anyone had ever said no to him before. I had the biggest grin on my face as I walked to my car. To his credit he didn’t call after me or anything. Thank you Consumerist for letting me know what my rights are!

    Wow.. 230+ comments and I dont recall one mention of Costco! Seems we’re learning.

  227. IamToddDavis says:

    if the sum total of wal-mart (or any other store’s) theft deterrent is asking for a receipt then it’s easy to shoplift.

    Make an investment first by buying something like a TV, pay $ and get a receipt. Take the tv out the front door and show your receipt.

    Put the receipt in your pocket and go back in the store when the person at the door changes-or minimally change your appearance with a different hat. Take another tv, show your receipt and sell this one. Or, return it.

    How hard can this be????

  228. Novaload says:

    A couple of well-placed lawsuits would end these WalMart facist tactics. unlawful detention, defmation (accusing of stealing), threats, etc. That’s the only way it will ever stop. Oh, and no going there.

  229. Consumer007 says:

    Where is Tim McVeigh buying fertilizer when we really need him? (Oh that’s right, he would get right on out the door without notice). (And for the morons reading this, no I don’t like or praise him or what he did, nor advocating it – I am using SATIRE – look it up.)

    You know it really is OBSCENE that the fricking bazillionaires running this company not only make 90% of their merchandise and profit with CHILDREN SLAVES in other countries, they then have to produce receipt NAZIS threatening the lives of paying customers and practically ignoring real thieves who are too smart for their hick redneck asses. Next not having receipts for purchases, no matter how good the reason as in this case, will become a felony. Just watch.

    My kudos in advance to organized “I’m leaving without my receipt” parties. Do it often and frequently enough that communities start billing Wal-Mart for overly-used local police resources. Maybe some of the LA rioters can join in and smash up their stores (hopefully without hurting anybody.)

    But those of us who refuse to support CHILD SLAVERY and the destruction of the American small town job manufacturing base in this country by shopping there never have to shop there and get harassed…

  230. MountainCop says:

    CharlieInSeattle at 09:06 PM on 06/14/08 Reply *
    @MountainCop: You sound like a total jerk also.

    and newfenoix at 09:06 PM on 06/14/08 Reply

    Hey, when I typed ‘this guy sounds like a total jerk’ I mean the COP and the other Wal-Mart parties involved – NOT the poor guy with the sugar.

    The Wal-Mart people (and I use the term people loosely here) would have been charged with whatever I could think of – false reporting (felony here), stalking-harassment (another felony), unlawful arrest, unlawful detainment, and quite possibly kidnapping.

    Maybe the charges wouldn’t get past the DA, but it would send Wally World a clue.

    Apology accepted.

  231. djreedps says:

    I stopped shopping at KMart since they check receipts at the door. I bought one thing at BrandsMartUSA. When they asked to see my receipt at the door, I said “No thanks”. They then started SCREAMING at me but I kept walking out to my car. I wasn’t detained, but I think that it is extremely bad business practice to verbally abuse paying customers.

    The problem is that most of these large corporate chain stores don’t care at all about customers, civil rights, or the law anymore. So there aren’t many places to shop without being harassed or abused.

  232. arcticJKL says:

    Regarding the question of the off-duty officer asking for ID, my understanding is that an officer may act if he sees a crime in progress such as a bank robbery or assault.

    Why doesn’t someone come up with a procedure pdf, for each state, for dealing with stores that do this so that we can all act in uniformity within the law when this happens.

    In this case I think it would have been best if he had returned to the store when he was originally detained. As he was doing so he should call the police and when he was released ask for charges to be filled to false imprisonment.

  233. RetailGuy83 says:

    @RetailGuy83: Sorry to take so long to respond. You made a comment about how people who read the consumerist should have a pre-disposition toward the OP. And you suggested that people who don’t share that pre-disposition should go read some other website.

    So we should not be sheeple, we should just follow along with whatever you say?

    (sorry if the south park reference flew under the bridge)

  234. RetailGuy83 says:

    @VikingP77: sorry, that last post was pointed at you.

  235. VikingP77 says:

    @RetailGuy83: No I suggested YOU go read some other website. Good job responding to yourself as well…..You have NO idea of what is going on right now do you?

  236. planet2334 says:

    Maybe it’s finally time to cancel my WalMart credit card …. I never see anything good about their service.

  237. ideagirl says:

    @cametall:
    Am I the only one not having an ounce of sympathy for the customer?

    Yes. Yes you are.

  238. danno99 says:

    How would one steal 4 bags of sugar? Hide them under their shirt? Down their pants maybe?

  239. sp00nix says:

    One of these days some jack ass at walmart is going to get shot or maced for this.

  240. Hobz says:

    @dequeued: “So what if he didn’t actually steal anything, those security guards didn’t know that!”

    I’m not sure if this was sarcasm on your part?

    But your above statement would be your answer. They didn’t know if he had stolen the sugar. They did not see him steal it, they did not have him on tape stealing the sugar. They assumed that because he did not have the receipt and they did not confirm his story, that he stole the sugar.

    Think of it this way… Every time you walk out of a Walmart, you are guilty of stealing until you can prove your innocent. How does that feel?

  241. @Mudpuddle: If you were David Caruso, this is where the Who would scream.

  242. DHT says:

    Google Maps shows that there’s a Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland. So I’d be willing to bet we’re talking about Maryland.

    And since it is MD, I can’t really be surprised that the local Wal-Mart expects people to accept police-state behavior.

  243. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @BronzeHammer: Can anybody weigh in on the legality of the off-duty officer asking for ID and performing police duties while not on the clock?

    I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that it’s pretty simple. A police officer can ASK for anything he wants. Unless you are being lawfully detained, you are under no obligation to show him anything. Hell, if you’re not being detained, you’re under no obligation to say anything – you are free to turn and walk away without saying a word.

    If you are being detained, the rules are different from State to State. Some states have laws that require you to identify yourself if asked. Some don’t. However, even in those cases where you are required to identify yourself (during a lawful detention), you are under no obligation to produce any papers of any kind.

  244. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @arcticJKL: Why doesn’t someone come up with a procedure pdf, for each state, for dealing with stores that do this so that we can all act in uniformity within the law when this happen

    It’s not comprehensive, but this is useful guide.

  245. OnceWasCool says:

    Take a trip to the Super Wal-mart in Dalton, GA.. Since it is a sanctuary city, they all turn a blind eye.

  246. arcticJKL says:

    TinyBug – thanks for the info.
    I was actually thinking along the lines with something that
    for each state:
    Lets you know requirements for the store detaining you
    Lets you know what false imprisonment, illegal detention is
    What to do when they tell you you are being detained (walk away, go with them, go with them with a statement, wait for police to arrive)

    and any other pertinent information

  247. Gokuhouse says:

    I love this part! “To their credit, they did replace the bag of sugar.” They have no credit anymore….Ben, didn’t you realize that when they helped you break the bag open in the first place?

    I’m just waiting for the case where a Wal-Mart guard kills someone over 3 bucks in merchandise.

  248. surgesilk says:

    @ RumorsDaily
    Excellent Simpsons reference!

  249. Gokuhouse says:

    @glorpy: We have to step back and ask: “Who created the bad situation in the first place?” It’s not his fault for making the situation worse, he didn’t create the situation, Wal-Mart did.

  250. dorrdon says:

    At the checkout, after paying, I put the cash register receipt in my mouth, slobber on it, pick up my purchases in both hands, and head for the exit.

    When I get to the checker by the exit, surprisingly, they always wave me past.

  251. mariospants says:

    Man, this story is intense. Yeah, the OP did a shitty job of absolving his innoncence but I suppose he earned it. If the fucking cashier knows that the Pricetag Gestappo is waiting at the exit, he better damn well hand each customer their receipt, look them in the eyes and say “HOLD ON TO THIS AND SHOW IT TO THE ASSHOLE AT THE EXIT”.

    Frankly, I’m baffled by how Wall*Mart thinks this is going to work to their benefit. I assume that the security guard/recept checker is there as a way to discourage theft, not actually stop it in the act (see previous posts by others regarding the 6 steps – unless he gets a call to detain the individual, he’s treading on thin ice). The one time I actually witnessed a shoplifter stealing a DVD, she waltzed right past the door guy ignored her to read her husband’s receipt. It isn’t a way to reduce theft: it’s a way to divert attention from actual theft! Idiots.

    I’m proud to say that we never shop at Wal*Mart. We make use of their washrooms on occasion, but we’d never spend any money there.

  252. Aisley says:

    First, when I go to a store, any store for that matter, the assumption should not be that I went there to shoplift. By asking everybody to produce register receipts you’re telling everybody that you suspect them of shoplifting.

    Second,(and this applies in ANY state), if you’re the one making the charges (officially or otherwise) then YOU are the one with the weight of the proof. YOU are the one that has to walk into the store and ask the cashier if there’s such receipt or not. YOU are the one that has to proof that I committed a crime. It is good for District Attorneys, the it is good enough for Wal*Mart.

    And by the way, there are other charges that could be brought upon the store and the policeman:

    1. False imprissonment.
    2. Dereliction of duty (the cashier by not giving the person the ticket)
    3. False accusations (the policeman acussed the person of lying to him, the security guy told him that he stole)
    4. Destruction of property (“he grabbed my bags, ripping them open”)
    5. Merchandaise obtained buy fraudulent means (the policeman wanted the guy to return the sugar bags without the guy getting a refund)
    6. Destruction of property (because the employee riped the plastic bag the sugar bag fell on the paviment and “split open”)
    7. Colussion of the Wal*Mart employee with the policeman to have the guy give up his rights. (“The Wal*Mart manager and police officer lectured about how next time if I just cooperated and gave up my rights at the beginning,”)

  253. Sidecutter says:

    @Michael Belisle: You realize there are tons and tons of places called Germantown, right? I live in Germantown myself. It’s a subsection of my city.

  254. Jmatthew says:

    This is a customer service issue, not a civil rights issue.

    The door checker should have apologized, been polite, offered to walk back with the customer to talk to the cashier and moved on.

    The problem is there’s no good way for the door checker to do their job. They can do good customer service and leave the door for a moment (letting others stuff go unchecked) or they can escelate the situation into unfriendly areas. Too often they choose the latter.

  255. LorneReams says:

    So Wal-Mart employees illegally detain you and the off-duty police officer didn’t do anything? Nice. I wonder how much Wal-Mart is paying off the police.

  256. The one important thing I’ve learned from all these Wal-Mart receipt stories is to call the police immediately if I’m followed into the parking lot by a security guard or off-duty cop. Just whip out the cellphone, dial 9-1-1, and report a crime in progress (by the wal-mart employee).*

    THEN, let the games begin.

    * as others have stated, you can be treated this badly ONLY if they have seen you steal something, not for simply refusing to stand on line & show a receipt.

  257. dmuth says:

    How long until Walmart gets sued and taken to the cleaners over this sort of behavior?

    I shop at a K-Mart in Center City Philadelphia that treats me better than this.

  258. Pender says:

    It would be kind of fun, if you have the time and inclination, to sue for assault, battery, and wrongful imprisonment. Even if the employees by the door were acting reasonably, that just means the employee at the register was all the more negligent for throwing out your receipt when it meant you’d be unable to leave. Either way, WalMart would be vicariously liable for the actions of its employees. (None of this is legal advice and I’m not your lawyer.)

  259. adamator says:

    I agree that WalMart is retarded and they shouldn’t have hassled this guy… But seriously… Wouldn’t a reasonable person just walk back to the register with the guard and clear it up? As far as civil liberties go, being asked for proof of purchase when you’re leaving a store with a bunch of merchandise (even if it’s low-valued) is not anything worth getting worked up about.

  260. Morissa2n says:

    Goodness…does it REALLY matter which Germantown it is? If you do a simple search for Butlers Orchard [www.butlersorchard.com] You will see clearly it is Germantown MARYLAND. Here is a map of the Wal-Mart in question [maps.yahoo.com]

    These Wal-mart stories really make me laugh. The Wal-Mart I frequent is often robbed. The local paper posts photos of people carrying televisions, tools, etc. out the garden entrance of the store yet there is the “attendant”, usually elderly, at the front of the store stopping women with huge grocery carts full to check the receipt. I truly resent it because the Wal-Mart is usually a madhouse and checking receipts really holds you up. If you have to return to a cashier you will most likely have to wait for the cashier to check out the person they are checking (out) and then go through the whole receipt ordeal.

    I wonder what they would say if someone told the receipt checkers and managers,”Sure you can check my receipt since it is your belief I am stealing however what compensation will I receive for my time as an honest citizen once you discover I have not stolen these items?” If they say there will be no compensation for the hassle and embarrassment just walk out.
    I think one day I am going to tell them I would like to return every item when they check my receipt. I am going to explain that I am not comfortable purchasing product and providing a profit to a company that assumes I am a criminal and K-Mart is closer to my home anyway.

    I especially LOVE Best Buy. Usually the security guy is standing right at the check out watching people check out and STILL asks to see the receipt! Once you pass through check out you have to go outside the store to get to where the product is so how could you have stolen something and put it in your bag when there are only 10 steps from the registers to the exit? That is the reason I wave my receipt at the guy as I go out…not to be a sheeple but to be so obvious. You watched the girl ring me up, you watched me walk toward you, and you have the nerve to ask for my receipt??? HERE IT IS DILLHOLE SEE?? SEE MY RECEIPT???

  261. A reasonable person pays for their merchandise and leaves the store. Period. Your want me to stand on line so you can confirm that I’m not a crook? Now, that’s unreasonable.

    My standard response to the receipt retard?
    “Not today. Thanks.”

  262. jimconsumer says:

    @scoli83: You can only use deadly force to defend yourself, or others, from the use of deadly force, aggravated kidnapping, murder, rape, or robbery.

    Depends on the state, scooter.

  263. scoli83 says:

    @jimconsumer: Yes it does. I was responding to a comment referencing Texas. I therefore responded with Texas law.

    Though as was pointed out, while I did list the specifically enumerated crimes to which deadly force is an acceptable response, I neglected to state that deadly force is allowed against felonies in general.

    Further, simple assault is a misdemeanor and is thus an insufficient provocation for deadly force.

    Don’t call me scooter, son.

  264. gliscameria says:

    Walmart also has cameras EVERYWHERE. That’s why they are there. You need proof that someone actually stole something in order to detain them.

    People are getting waaay to comfortable with unreasonable search and seizure.

  265. vancleef9000 says:

    Walmart can ask you to stop but you don’t have to. It’s harder to get caught shoplifting than get away with it and the charge is the same whether it’s 4 bags of sugar or a big screen TV(theft under $5000) so if you are going to steal, make it something worthwhile.

    On the off chance you do get caught there will be no jail time, maybe a ticket and you most likely won’t even end up in court(but if you do end up in court the videotapes are not admissable, only the testimony of the arresting LPO who witnessed the entire crime take place)

    P.S I was Loss Prevention(at Walmart and Home Depot), not a shoplifter.

  266. scoli83 says:

    @vancleef9000: Why are the tapes inadmissible?

  267. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I’m curious about that too. I seem to remember being shown instructional videos that showed how those tapes WERE used in court, and they most certainly WERE admissible.

  268. mrearly2 says:

    Boy, what a bunch of buttheads, they have at Wal-Mart! Stupid and ignorant!

    “…cooperated and gave up my rights at the beginning, it would have been much easier…”–that’s just what government and corporations want.

  269. shonblatt says:

    And how often do receipt checks actually catch anyone shoplifting?

    #1 They can’t possibly do an item by item audit for every customer to make sure you have only the items that are listed on the receipt. At Costco, they give your cart a half-hearted glance, mark your receipt, and send you on your merry way. All they’re doing is delaying you from leaving the store.

    #2 If I was shoplifting, I’ve most likely got the stolen item stuffed somewhere more secure than the bags I’m carrying out of the store. And since they don’t frisk you or check your other bags or your person, they’re not likely to find anything even if you are stealing.

    Receipt checks are more for show. They say, “We’re serious about minimizing loss”. But the funny thing is that it does very little to prevent stealing, and it pisses off and alienates legitimate customers, who are less likely to return to that store as a result.

    I’ll bet stores lose more business to angry customers who feel victimized by these searches than they’re gaining in protected merchandise.

  270. Craysh says:

    @oChrist Walters

    If you defend Wal-Mart for this treatment of an average customer, you are a slave.

    Way to inject your views in an article. Try having some objectivity in your articles.

    @Cliff_Donner

    Some group needs to orchestrate a “Leave Wal-Mart Without Showing Your Receipt” Day. It would be interesting to see how the store would deal with dozens of people trying to simultaneously bypass the receipt-checker. Maybe even throw in some extra people just carrying Wal-Mart bags filled with crumpled up newspaper to spice things up.

    Damn straight.
    Come on consumerist, get on this!

  271. mkn1972 says:

    Well.. It looks as though Wal-Mart has finally crossed the line.

    Security personnel, depending on the state you are in, and I only know of two that allow it, cannot arrest or put their hands on you in any way, shape or form unless (in those two states) they are arresting you, or they are defending themselves from immediate attack. Security personnel are only.. let me stress this.. ONLY to OBSERVE and REPORT. They are not supposed to intervene unless there is an immediate threat to life. I doubt your four bags of sugar were a threat to anything except the strawberries.

    Preventing someone from leaving the premises of any establishment without ARREST (not detention)–unless the person preventing you from leaving is a PEACE OFFICER–is a felony–unlawful detainer in some states, attempted kidnapping in others, false arrest in some others yet.

    So.. We have a story in which Wal Mart staff ASSAULTED a customer (felony, aggravated assault, no less), committed unlawful detainer, and then engaged in threats of physical violence (felony or high misdemeanor, depending on state).

    Get a good attorney. Press charges and sue. Go to the press.. Make Wal Mart VISIBLY responsible for this travesty.

    I don’t show my reciept to anyone at any store–so far, I’ve never been challenged. If I ever am, I will assure the person doing so that they are making a large mistake, and have no legal grounds for doing so. I paid, the items are mine–only a judge can take them away from me.. and since you’re not in a black robe holding a gavel and sitting behind a bench, I’ll just be on my way, thanks.

    Go get ‘em.

  272. MKEgal says:

    Skip WallyWorld. Not too very much further down the road, over on County Line, is an Aldi. Their prices are even lower than WW, and even lower than the grocery store that’s also on County Line, catty-corner from Fleet Farm.
    And I’ve found that since I’ve been carrying a firearm the checkers don’e hassle me. At all. It’s legal in Wisconsin to openly carry a firearm for self-defense.