Walmart Goes Crazy On Couple Suspected Of Shoplifting

Walmart can try to spin itself as being on the side of good all it wants, but if it ever suspects you of shoplifting, you may find that you’re powerless to fight back. In the case of a couple accused of shoplifting some Bic lighters in Niles, Michigan this past August, Walmart detained them, the police came and cuffed one of them, their two kids were taken to a security room, and—after a review of security footage proved the couple’s innocence—they were banned for life from all Walmarts. To top it off, Walmart’s legal team has sent the couple a letter asking to be reimbursed for 10 times the value of the lighters, even though the police determined no shoplifting had taken place.

(It’s unclear whether the couple ever actually paid for the Bic lighters in question—the article only specifies that the footage shows they scanned the package of lighters but that the scanner didn’t register it.)

The couple in question is gay and their sons are adopted, which may have introduced a whole new level of emotional reactions on both sides of the dispute. The men say their children told them that while they were being held in the security room, the security staff threatened the kids and “had made disparaging remarks about Paolucci and Hitchcock’s lifestyle.” It’s not a stretch to imagine that such an attitude, if it existed, carried over into any face-to-face interactions. Meanwhile, the police who showed up and cuffed Paolucci, then forced the two men into the backs of different squad cars, claim that the men were causing a disturbance when they arrived at the scene.

Still, no amount of pro-gay or anti-gay outrage makes it okay for a retailer to place paying customers in such an abusive situation, especially when the retailer’s own security footage—which was immediately available for review—shows that if there was any inventory issue it was due to a malfunction of the scanner. But Walmart can get away with it because it can afford to:

Asked if they intend to sue Wal-Mart, Paolucci said he and Hitchcock probably won’t because other attorneys have advised them Wal-Mart historically “plays hardball” and isn’t prone to settle cases out of court.

“We could spend a couple million dollars to sue them,” Paolucci said.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be court action. Paolucci and Hitchcock e-mailed The Tribune a copy of a letter from a law firm representing Wal-Mart seeking 10 times the retail price of the items the store still claims were shoplifted by Paolucci. The letter states the matter will be dropped if Paolucci submits the $158.40 payment.

Fortunately, the men seem to have enough money that they can afford to never shop at the discount retailer again, even if they weren’t banned for life. If you’re not part of a wealthy two-income family, though… well hopefully Walmart will look down favorably upon you when your post-checkout time comes, so long as you act contrite and respectful of their security team’s authority.

(Oh yeah, now I remember why I don’t want a Walmart anywhere near where I live.)

*Note: I originally reported the Walmart as being located in Niles, Illinois. However, the South Bend Tribune generally covers areas in Michigan and Indiana, and the couple lives in Buchanan, Michigan, which also has a Niles located nearby. I’ve updated the post to report the Walmart as being located in Niles, Michigan. -Chris

“Niles couple banned from Wal-Mart after dispute over BIC lighters” [South Bend Tribune] (Thanks to Shanon!)

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(Photo: Brave New Films)

Comments

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  1. junip says:

    This company makes me sad… very, very sad.

  2. bohemian says:

    I thought I had read things in the past that said they were not even going to prosecute theft under $25.00.

    They really owed this family an apology instead Walmart keeps heaping insult on top of injury. Where do I donate to the legal fund. I really want to see these guys sue. Enough people aggressively sue Walmart for this kind of thing and they might actually behave.

    I would say just don’t shop there. As others have pointed out sometimes Walmart is literally the only option people can get to.

    • shadowkahn says:

      @bohemian: That policy only applies to heterosexual individuals. I strongly suspect that the goons in this particular Wal-mart have unfavorable opinions regarding homosexuality. . Especially if the gay guys have the audacity to have children.

  3. El_Fez says:

    Astounding the depths that this company will sink to.

  4. theSuperman says:

    Ok, I could see MAYBE handcuffing them until sorting it all out. But once the police decided no shoplifting occured, that should be the end of it. Does WalMart honestly think they have the right to collect money from the couple?

    • crazedhare says:

      @theSuperman: No, it shouldn’t be the end of it. Once the police decided no shoplifting occurred, a final phase of profuse, kind, sincere apologies from Walmart to the couple, together with a free gift card, should have taken place. THEN the end of it!

  5. NightSteel says:

    I wonder if small claims would work for them. At the very least, they could get a judgement for the cost of the groceries that went bad while they were being detained, and possibly also get some sort of order invalidating any claim on Wal-Mart’s part stemming from this incident.

  6. Belabras ate my dingo! says:

    I see a lawsuit in the future. One Walmart will lose.

    • IceMax says:

      @Belabras ate my dingo!:

      Wal-Mart does not lose in court. They are notorious for pulling all kinds of sleazy and dirt tactics in court, including flat out lying.

      • bohemian says:

        @IceMax: That is why small claims might be the best venue. In most states small claims does not allow for lots of delays and legal wrangling that is in a regular civil case. At least in SD a small claims ruling can’t be appealed either. I can’t imagine a small claims judge faced with the facts ruling in Walmart’s favor. I don’t know if the couple can sue for damages or the humiliation in small claims though.

      • quail says:

        @IceMax: I say, get it in ‘The People’s Court’. Judge Judy would be fun to watch on a case like this.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Belabras ate my dingo!: Both victims here are lawyers. I’m sure they are aware of the numerous violations that have occurred, but are also aware of how WalMart would game the legal system in a war of attrition that they could not hope to gain any meaningful remedy from by forcing the cost of litigation higher than any reasonable remedy.

      • uber_mensch says:

        @ludwigk: @ludwigk:

        Since these guys are lawyers, why can’t they be their own lawyers and save ‘millions of dollars’. Am I missing something?

        • oloranya says:

          @uber_mensch: Different kind of lawyer? They may not specialize in this particular branch of law and thus be at a disadvantage.

        • Esquire99 says:

          @uber_mensch:
          Even absent the actual legal fees, it can be incredibly expensive to pursue a case that isn’t very simple. If they have to depose anyone it can get expensive very quickly. On top of that, if they want to claim the children were harmed, they may need expert witnesses, which can be incredibly expensive as well.

  7. Duckula22 says:

    Using the police report I would sue the crap out of them.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      @Duckula22: You would go bankrupt before you saw one red cent from The Devil.

      They have much more resources than you do and can keep things tied up in court, burning money on both sides, until you have spend all your savings, maxed your credit cards, and taken out and pissed away a second mortgage.

      Then, like a crusty old card player, they “raise you $1.”

      You cry “but I have no more money!”

      They cackle and say, “well, I guess you fold, then.”

      You sob, “But I have a winning hand!”

      The response comes short but sweet: “tell it to someone who cares, kid.”

      • trujunglist says:

        @bravohotel01:

        If that were to happen in a card game, then the pot ends where you go all in, it’s not just an automatic loss of money because some other guy has more than you. It wouldn’t really be a game otherwise except for who is richer…

  8. rocketbear79: threadkiller says:

    This kind of BS is what makes me want to start a posse of nomadic lawyers. Local consumer activists would give them room and board in their homes and collect donations for filing fees and in return they would spend all their time suing the shit out of these asshole companies that can buy the courts.

    Basically all the members of the posse would need to be financially unambitious and totally philanthropic, but I bet you could probably find a couple hundred in the country who would do it. It’s a pipe dream but its my pipe dream (one of them anyway).

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    What kind if hideous monsters would hijack a couple’s developmentally disabled, eleven-year-old children then lock them into a room and disparage their parents while threatening the kids?
    Oh. Wal-Mart. In that case, I’m surprised they don’t have a section in their employee manual describing how to do this in the most cost-effective manner.

  10. AgitatedDot says:

    Walmart needs to have a tough team fighting their legal battles. They keep getting sued because everyone wants to get a piece of their giant pie.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @AgitatedDot: Yeah, those developmentally disabled eleven-year-olds really push poor Wal-Mart far past any reasonable limit, what with their whining about being locked up so they can be threatened and Wal-Mart can make fag jokes about their parents.
      The NERVE! The kids should just suck up their nightmares, medications and bedwetting. Like men!

  11. kabuk1 says:

    Wal-Mart is only giving them grief because they’re gay, because they’re this big ‘christian’ organization. How sad. I say sue the living shit out of them.

    • supercereal says:

      @kabuk1: I’d say that the story only mentions their sexual preference to garner outrage from simple minded folks like yourself. If you really believe that Wal-Mart collectively has some anti-gay agenda, and the individual store managers acted this way as a result, then you’re quite the sad individual.

      Being so quick to point out that every bad thing that happens to gay couples is due solely to their sexual preference (even though nothing supports that here), is just as stupid as legitimate discrimination.

      • KiLE says:

        @supercereal: Why do people comment before reading the article?

        From the article: “By the time they were read the statement, Paolucci and Hitchcock said, the twins had told them that the security staff had allegedly threatened them in the security room and had made disparaging remarks about Paolucci and Hitchcock’s lifestyle.”

        It’s pretty clear that the couple being gay had a role to play in the treatment of this family.

        • supercereal says:

          @KiLE: Oh, I read the article. I couldn’t care less what a couple of kids from Romania allegedly said. Unless there’s proof of that, then it didn’t happen. It’s hardly unheard of for people to bring their “protected class status” into legal disputes just to garner outrage and attention. It’s really a pathetic course of action.

      • That's Consumer007 to you says:

        @supercereal: No I’d say you don’t know how proudly and fiercely WalMart has marketed itself as a “Christian” company. I completely believe many many of their locations have this behavior belief system / orientation.

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      @kabuk1: I have never seen Wal Mart specifically identify themselves as a Christian organization. I know they limit what they sell based on some moral code but moral codes are not restricted to Christianity.

    • K-Bo says:

      @kabuk1: I don’t know, I’ve heard of walmart doing similar things to gays, straights, young, old, and every race. Walmarts heavy handiness seems universal.

    • korybing says:

      @kabuk1: Well I mean Walmart is headquartered in Arkansas, where homosexuals aren’t even allowed to adopt kids in the first place.

      That doesn’t have anything to do with this story (unless Walmart does have an anti-gay agenda and everybody involved was originally from the Arkansas HQ, but then we’re getting deep into conspiracy theory territory), but it just makes me angry anyway.

  12. shadomoon says:

    At the Wallyworld I work at it is the prime location FOR theft. One security guy who doesn’t do his job and just kisses managemnt a** and the people at the door could careless if you steal or not, as long as you don’t make their job harder.

  13. mantari says:

    Wal-Mart is not a gay-friendly shopping experience. The check-out cashier? No. The employee working the department? No. It is the security people chasing them all over the store and harassing them. Wal-Mart appears to play cowboy with their security team and allows them to run far more loose than other establishments. Being on the receiving end of the special gay treatment, I can say, it really is sicking to shop at some of their stores.

  14. Freedomforall says:

    WalMart is the worst of retail.

  15. Mulva says:

    Considering that Walmart is working *hard* to get more stores within Chicago city limits (there is currently only one and it’s not a supercenter), this doesn’t help their case. I do hope the anti-WM groups and the unions (the main reason Chicago aldermen aren’t completely pro-WM) pick this up and use it as fodder.

  16. damageddude says:

    What’s even more amazing — WalMart did this to two attorneys (read the Tribune article) who DON’T want to sue.

    I’m not the litigious type but if that happened to my family I would keep going until justice was complete. And, since my WalMart is in an area when I am a member of the community you better believe I’d not only make sure my record was clear but, in the final agreement settling the matter, if there was even a hint that I was still banned there would be an immediate lawsuit for libel.

  17. steveliv says:

    chrs, snc whn dd cnsmrst bcm n pnn blg? y mght jst stt th fcts, rthr thn njct yr bvs glrng htrd fr Wl-Mrt.

  18. mommiest says:

    Too bad WalMart can’t figure out how to ban frogs from their salad. They could always ban anyone who finds one, though.

  19. lalaland13 says:

    I don’t know what Wal-mart was thinking. There may have been some homophobic stuff going on, but maybe they would be assholes no matter what.

    But Wal-Mart is based in the Natural State, so that means nothing that God doesn’t approve of is allowed. This is why I have to make sure to get all my grocery shopping done before my period, since I’m not allowed out in public then.

    This complex simply has too much damn power, and I’m glad to see Consumerist and others calling them out on it.

  20. weave says:

    I got falsely accused of shoplifting at Pathmark (grocery store chain) when I was 12 — 38 years ago. I didn’t do so and the manager knew I didn’t because I said if he went to the store next door the cashier there would verify I purchased the candy there. Instead I was banned for life from Pathmark. I’ve honored that ban for 38 years now. A typical family spends a lot of money on food each year, so they’ve basically lost out a lot of revenue due to their idiocy over a 10 cent box of Good-n-Plenty.

  21. smiling1809 says:

    Well, I’m done with Walmart for sure now. They are out of control.

  22. twritersf says:

    I just wrote to Wrangler:

    Hello,

    I am a big fan of your cargo (denim) jeans. (Interestingly, I can’t find them on your website.) After Old Navy stopped making them, yours were about the only ones I could find.

    Even more unfortunately, even though I can often find Wrangler cargo shorts (for summer wear) in decent stores such as Target. I can find the cargo full-length (36W, 34L) jeans only at Wal-Mart.

    Wal-Mart is evil. I loathe spending my money to support such an organization. Yet when I need this particular product (I have several pairs), I have no choice but to go there.

    Here is an example of just how bad Wal-Maret is: [consumerist.com]

    I beg, you, I implore you, please expand your retail network for this product. Heck, I’d even pay more (not much more, to be sure) to not have to spend my money at Wal-Mart.

    (And while I’m at it, could I suggest two minor improvements to the design? I’d love to see the denim just a little bit heavier. And I’d love to see velcro flaps over the back pockets (like on the shorts).

    I am just such a huge fan of cargo style, but I much prefer denim over khakis, so I am truly appreciative that you still make cargoes in denim. Just please, please, sell them in more places.

    Thank you.

  23. arcticJKL says:

    Hatred of walmart aside I would like to point out a few things from the article.

    1. “”It is unknown at this time why the self checkout scanner did not pick up the items scanned by Paolucci,” the report said.” Apparently at least one item was removed from the store without being paid for. Albeit walmarts fault.

    2. “The report also stated that when officers arrived at the store, they found Paolucci and Hitchcock “causing a scene, being very loud and disrupting customers while yelling and swearing at Wal-Mart security.”” Thus the removal to the squad cars.

    3. “The (police) report added the boys played a video game while in the security room and at one point apologized “for being disrespectful.” According to the report, one of the boys advised that he and his brother were “just scared.”” So perhaps no interrogation with a lamp. But still why not put the kids in police custody, or the custody of the non cuffed adult, while waiting?

  24. MarketMaven says:

    I am going to boycott Walmart right now because of the outrageous behavior on their part that I just found out about since reading this article….. oh wait, I ALREADY stopped shopping there because they are a**holes.

  25. bitsnbytes says:

    Oh, this is tough. Who should I root against?
    Lawyers…? Wal-Mart…?
    Wal-Mart…? Lawyers…?
    Darn.

  26. jamar0303 says:

    At least they’re still alive. Could have turned out worse, as we’ve seen in one of their other stores.

  27. boomshakla says:

    This is actually the Wal-Mart closest to home. Hate it, terrible place. Totally deplorable, even with Wal-Mart standards. And it is not a “Chicago Wal-Mart”, it’s actually in Niles, Michigan, which is a good 100 miles away from chi-town.

  28. cranke says:

    Walmart is practically begging for anonymous retribution that will no doubt far exceed $158 in damage.

    Heaven help the Walmart employee or rent a cop that “attempts” to arrest me. Funny they never pick on 6″4″ 200 lbs when I walk out.

    • trujunglist says:

      @cranke:
      that’s true isn’t it? ever since i’ve been coming to consumerist (3 years or so? wow, time flies huh?), I have not once been stopped for a receipt check. i believe that it’s mostly because i’m 6’4″ and 230 lbs and generally look pretty mean, even if I don’t mean to look like that (my ex used to constantly deride me for a look on my face that I didn’t believe I had until she annoyed me about enough to actually feel like I had it…).

  29. DovS says:

    I cannot imagine why Wal-Mart would go this far. They know it wasn’t shoplifting since their own security video proved that it was not. There is a police report clearly stating that no shoplifting occurred. What possible advantage could there be for Wal-Mart to ban a family of customers who have been legitimately purchasing goods from a Wal-Mart store? They’ve now lost those customers AND they will probably lose more customers just because of the bad publicity. I can understand being embarrassed about their mistake but trying to threaten the innocent couple with a civil suit just ensures that Wal-Mart’s egregious and continuing mistake stays in the public eye that much longer.

    This makes no sense. It’s as if Wal-Mart executives were intentionally seeking a way to reduce their customer base.

  30. StarVapor says:

    WalMart is the poster child for selfish, arrogant, corporate capitalism gone amok.
    They don’t belong in the 21st century.
    It’s time for everybody to start showing up at their local WalMart with Pitchforks and Torches.

  31. wvFrugan says:

    A few years back, here in Beckley, WV, they accused an older black woman of shoplifting. The case had racial undertones and the woman was degraded. That little false accusation cost Wal-Mart in excess of 100,000.00. I doubt you will find any public record of it as the settlement had a gag clause. FUCK WAL-MART and I hope sam walton is rotting in hell!

  32. watsuk says:

    FYI: Here is an article about Wally World and how they are sued and how they react.
    =================================

    Lawsuits a volume business at Wal-Mart

    By Richard Willing, USA TODAY

    By Matthew Minard, The Shreveport Times, for USA TODAY
    Shoppers head into a Wal-Mart “Supercenter” in Bossier City, La. The retailer has been sued over matters ranging from the security of parking lots to the actions of crowds of bargain-hunters.

    Wal-Mart is a legend in American business, a 39-year-old retail dynamo that trails only ExxonMobil in annual revenue. But in America’s courtrooms, Wal-Mart has another distinction: As the company’s sales have soared, analysts say, it appears to have become the nation’s most popular private-sector target for lawsuits.

    By its own count, Wal-Mart was sued 4,851 times last year – or nearly once every two hours, every day of the year. Juries decide a case in which Wal-Mart is a defendant about six times every business day, usually in favor of the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant. Wal-Mart lawyers list about 9,400 open cases.

    No one keeps a comprehensive list of all the nation’s litigation, but legal analysts believe that Wal-Mart is sued more often than any American entity except the U.S. government, which the Justice Department estimates was sued more than 7,500 times last year. Dozens of lawyers across the United States now specialize in suing Wal-Mart; many share documents and other information via the Internet.

    But the huge volume of Wal-Mart lawsuits is only half the story.

    Wal-Mart, which promotes itself as a down-home friendly business, is helping change the nature of corporate litigation by aggressively fighting many cases even when it would be cheaper for the company to settle, analysts say.

    The policy runs counter to the strategy of “settle quickly and cut your losses” that companies have used for generations. But it is paying dividends for Wal-Mart, which in the past five years has seen the pace of its lawsuits stabilize as potential plaintiffs and their lawyers opt not to sue after weighing the costs of fighting the retailer.
    ===============================

    http://www.targetfiling.blogspot.com

  33. Brent says:

    They need a new attorney who’s not afraid to sue the bastards.

  34. Bruce says:

    “Paolucci and Hitchcock e-mailed The Tribune a copy of a letter from a law firm representing Wal-Mart seeking 10 times the retail price of the items the store still claims were shoplifted by Paolucci. The letter states the matter will be dropped if Paolucci submits the $158.40 payment.”

    If the law firm mailed a letter demanding $158.40 with no legal basis to do so, that reeks of extortion and THAT’S illegal.

    [www.uspsoig.gov]

    Let’s put those Postal Inspectors to work tearing that law firm a new one, they’ve got better things to do than sit around all day reading MY dirty magazines…

  35. Snarkysnake says:

    I’m usually the one defending Walmart on here ,but I’m gonna disappoint flamers by agreeing with the mob in this case : This was a wild overreaction by the Oberststurmbannfuhrer of security at this store. Like thats anything new.

    I ‘m a bail bondsman. I deal with Walmart shoplifting cases almost daily. A couple of points to remember:

    1) Walmart has loosened up on the small time pilferage in their stores. There used to be a pretty strict “zero tolerance” policy on shoplifting that even the local manger and security guy could’t bend. Yes ,even for a kindly old grandmother. (Seen it !)

    2) Every person arrested for shoplifting there gets one of these notorious civil damages demand letters. This is a way to make the defendant essentially pay for their investigation and recovery. Typically ,the defendant in these cases is transient -Walmart sends a letter to their last known address and it just…dies. The recovery usually comes in cases where teenagers are caught swiping stuff and the parents pay.

    3) Walmart security personnel are trained in tactics designed to get convictions. Period. They are unscrupulous , arrogant and ambitious. Kind of like Barney Fife raised by wolves. Their favorite tactic is to tell a suspect that they have tape of them stealing stuff. If the victim will just admit their crime , they will let them go. Works every time with young adults and most times with older folks. That’s when they get a little wet kiss on their performance review and the defendant gets a shake and howdy with me.

    4) There are two sides to every story and this is no exception. Walmart is tough on shopllifters. But they still have plenty of them. (If you are one of my clients reading this , my son’s college thanks you). I’m not telling anyone to break the law ,but if you must steal ,you might want to check out KMart. After 11 years of doing this , I ‘ve had exactly TWO cases of shoplifting that KMart prosecuted.

  36. thrashanddestroy says:

    Hrumph…I’ve worked retail for years and I fully endorse the theft of anything from any WalMart anywhere. Ever. For any reason. Period.

    We have a new WalMart opening no more than two miles from my house, which makes it the fourth within a 15 mile radius of me. Unfortunately, its opening up on one of the busiest four lane highways in our area that’s already peppered with an unending amount of restaurants, strip malls, shopping centers and two actual malls. To make things worse, they’re promising to be open by Black Friday, which is going to be a mess. That area is already pure chaos that time of the year, can’t wait for the horde this WalMart is going to bring it.

    Even worse, it was originally supposed to open a few miles down the road over a year ago but city residents fought it and construction was halted until Meijer purchased the property. WalMart just hopped the city line and threw up shop right across the border, unfortunately no one threw up as much of a stink this time.

  37. TessTalks says:

    I’d sue Walmart’s ass.

  38. mariospants says:

    I have always banned Walmart from my family’s shopping activities. If they had only followed my example to begin with, none of this would have happened.

  39. bmwloco says:

    All too typical. Wal-Mart can put on a happy face, make vapidly nice commercials, but in the end, they are a fascist and hard nosed take no prisoners company.

    There are many, many other places to buy goods. I haven’t walked into a Wal-Mart in years. And don’t plan to, either.

    It’s the company store for America.

  40. jstonemo says:

    This doesn’t make sense to me. I have kids, and I have friends who have kids. If we are out together with our kids so the wives have some free time, does that make us gay? I know you can tell by body language sometimes, but I have never seen a gay couple making out or using other forms of PDA in a Walmart.

  41. SoCalGNX says:

    By looking at the book section in Walmart, it seems they are pretty much fundamentalist Protestant in their outlook. Wonder what the impact would be on their sales if all gays, people of gays and friends of gays quit shopping there for awhile?

  42. Amy Alkon says:

    Stores that try to save on human labor by having self-scanning machines shouldn’t make customers pay the price when items go unscanned. Since you can’t see inside a person’s head, and know whether they intentionally or unintentially left an item unscanned, it’s up to the store to hire cashiers to check people out.

  43. MinorAnnoyance says:

    Walmart. The Blackwater of retail.

  44. boxjockey68 says:

    Just another example of why walfart will always always always deserve the golden poo award….

  45. suburbancowboy says:

    Being banned from Wal-Mart for life is a blessing not a curse. I’ve never shopped there, and I never will.

    Stories like this one reaffirm my reasons for boycotting them.

  46. takotchi says:

    @mantari: Two guys, one cart? Oh yes. I see what you did there. =P

  47. Hybriddeathdealer says:

    It’s incredible what big business actually gets away with. Things like product manipulation, false ‘roll back’ displays and false marketing. It’s not like it’s hard to prove these things that Wal-mart does. Takes about a day or two and a camera. They squeeze the poor by marketing products in rural areas with significant price increases, while in their more affluent store locations receiving somewhat better pricing. So on the one side they cheat and steal what it is they can from their clients. Yet on the other side, they know that no viable lawsuit would ever be held up against them, since big business owns the appellate courts. For more info on that, read The Appeal by John Grisham. ;)
    Corruption and hypocrisy rules the day in American business and American politics. Now, Wal-mart figures it can change America, and one way is to a country where you are guilty and must prove your innocence. Wal-mart so called business practices are insulting. Expect more and you’ll get more. Corruption deserves Jail, Baby, Jail!

  48. Valajin says:

    Walked out of a wal-mart with a case of Coke in the cart unpaid for, by accident, some years ago around Christmas. My husband worked for them at the time (we partied hard when he got a much better job and quit without notice after seven years). We laughed and kept it. I don’t care. I hope they all burn.

  49. Urgleglurk says:

    This is just one more reason that I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I will not shop at a business that considers their customers to be criminals until proven otherwise (Their insistent “Where’s your reciept??” bull—- every time you walk in or out). I can easily do without Wal-Mart in my life. Suck it, Wal-Mart.

  50. garthgratis says:

    steveliv

    y yr bvs glrng htrd fr vbs?

  51. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    I banned Walmart from entering my wallet over a year ago. There is nothing they sell that I can’t get for the same price or less somewhere else. Most of their stuff is garbage anyway.

  52. JeffIowa says:

    Does anyone see that this could all have been avoided if WalMart didn’t have self-check? If a cashier had made the mistake, whoops, cashier is disciplined. But, because WM can’t afford the cashier, they must deal with all the bad publicity.

  53. SimonGodOfHairdos says:

    It’s articles like this that make me SO CONFUSED as to why no one at Wal-Mart would even stay on the phone with my friends and I when we called to report a robbery. We saw two guys come running out of an alarmed back door (my friends’ balcony faces the back of a Wal-Mart in Norwalk, CT), throw several large electronics boxes in the back of an SUV, and speed away. We called the store, told them they were robbed, and they responded with, “No we weren’t” and a hang up. We called the police who apparently also had trouble convincing Wal-Mart that they had been robbed. It was only when the cops found the culprits after they did the same thing several times down I-95 and returned the items to Wal-Mart did they acknowledge the situation. It was ASININE!!! My friend and I went to the store the next day and spoke with a manager, who apologized for the employees’ handling of the situation. We told him that the next time we witness Wal-Mart getting robbed, all we’re going to do is cheer on the criminals.

    (If you’re wondering, we definitely were conflicted about reporting the crime in the first place. We all hated Wal-Mart, and were not opposed to it losing money and inventory. We called because we didn’t want an innocent employee to get blamed when they finally noticed that a flat screen tv was missing.)

  54. AussieJohnAct says:

    LESLIE CHARLES GILROY (corrupt cop) (thief)
    in company with
    LLOYD STEPHEN GANZERLA (thief)
    BELINDA JANE GANZERLA (thief) (nee Keuning)
    EUGENE CLEVELAND GANZERLA (thief)
    TRACEY ANNE GANZERLA (nee Payne from Junee) (thief)
    and others, robbed my wife and I
    See the whole story here
    http://austlawpublish.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=2

  55. LALady says:

    Walmart is horrible. Some locations worse than others. The Hammond, LA Walmart is terrible about accusing innocent customers of shoplifting. It happened to be 4 months ago. My husband and I basically bought everything at walmart. We had made several customer complains, with managment about employee / managment rudness and lack of interest in customer care/ help.

    Long story made short. I went grocery shopping one night without my husband as he was working. I made a “looking” trip out of it also as that was only the second time in a year I’d been shopping without hubby. I looked in each department, took my time, browsing and planning a Christmas list, etc. I was in the store a couple of hours, gathered close to $100 dollars in groceries, checked out, right after I left the check out had a police officer (was working his paid guard detail for walmart) and a walmart “loss prevention” guy approach me, take my arms and tell me I must accompany them to the back room. I smiled and asked them what was going on. They repeated three times “You need to come with us to the back room.” I refused, and told them I didn ‘t understand. The loss prevention guy said, ” I believe you have some of my merchandise on you.” I still didn’t understand. I said “I do, I just bought groceries.” He said, “No you shoplifted…” I was in shock. I said “What???” He said “I believe you have stolen some of my merchandise and you have to go to the back room so we can search you. If you refuse to let us search you the guard will force you to let me search you.”

    I was afraid, in a state of shock, and totally dumbfounded. The stupid loss prevention man repeated you have my merchandise in your purse.” I told him basically everything I have came from here… My shoes I’m wearing, my pants, blouse, purse, makeup, everything in my purse… my wallet, etc.” He repeated they were taking me to the back room and searching me or either the cop (a Tangipohoa sheriff working his guard detail at walmart) would would “take me down” right there.

    They made me very hurt and angry. I had not stolen anything and if they were going to search me do it there at the front of the store… The cop repeated three times “I’m going to take you down, if you don’t come to the back with us!!” I asked him what he meant. He said ,” I’m going to tackle you to the floor right here and take you down, and strip search you here if you don’t come to the back” He grabbed at my arm and I jerked away from him. I told loss prevention I was going to sue the hell out of walmart for their accusations and treatment of me. This was only happening because we’d been complaining about service their and made several attempts to get management to do something over the stores treatment of us and customers in general. The cop yelled, ” Are you threating me, I’ll arrest you for threatening a police officer right now.” I asked how was I threatening him just because I’d told loss prevention I’d sue walmart…??

    They ~~ Tangapohoa sheriff and walmart loss prevention took me to the “back room” and held me 3 hours. The loss prevention guy kept threatening to have the cop attack me if I didn’t submit to a search of my purse. The loss prevention guy took a tube of unopened lipstick I had (not in a box… just unused) and took a small can of off insect repellent I had. He said “This is $23 dollars worth of my merchandise you stole.” I told him “No, I bought that weeks ago… I carry off because we have animals on our property 4 miles from were we live and we go by on the way home to feed, check them and tend them, hence the insect repellent. ” The walmart loss prevention guy was on a “walmart junky loss prevention ADRENALINE high”….He kept telling the cop “My adrenaline is just pumping… it’s so exciting to “catch” someone it’s such an adrenaline rush…it’s like an overdose…: Even the cop told him to hush that he should not be saying that in front of me.

    The cop told loss prevention he had only had $23 dollars worth of supposed shoplifted merchandise… he would have to let me go, as walmart only prosecuted over $25 dollars. The walmart prevention NUT case ARENALINE high guy said “NO, I’ll find something else to include… ” and begin digging in my purse again…. he came out with a cell phone…said I stole it. I told him, “Well, that’s strange as it’s been registered in my name for nearly 2 years….so how did I steal it tonight?” He literally threw the cell phone back at me. He begin digging again in my purse… He took a small flashlilght that looked new… He said I must have stole it and added it to his “List” of stolen merchandise. Then he took my extra OPENED batteries for my second small flashlight… and begin adding again… He said, “I now have $58 dollars in stolen merchandise, so we can prosecue you now.”

    I told him, “NO you now have MY posessions you are claiming are your merchandise… and you have NO right to hold me three hours, and take my things, and tell me I cannot call my husband. You also have no right to threaten me as I’ve done nothing wrong.” I told him and the cop I was calling my husband and my sister and would also being hiring an attorney handle the matter for me.

    We hired an attorney, we have a court date this month for “Motions”… We (husband and I) have paid $2500 to have myself represented in this stupid, unsettling rediculous matter caused by a stupid, bored walmart loss prevention guy with nothing else to do but find an innocent female shopper to pick on just to get his adrenaline rush. NOTICE ~~ they never bothered us as long as my husband and I were together. The guy even brought up the fact we had been complaining on previous visits.

    This is a CLEAR CUT case of Walmart abusing and harassing good customers. We spent probably a $800.00 to $1000 per month in Walmart before this stupidity happened. So Walmart will not only lose $10,000 per year or more in business from us, but I will do everything possible to make the public aware of just how terribly bad some of the locations / employees are in their treatment of honest, paying customers.

    I also find it VERY inappropreate for a Tangipohoa parish sheriffs deputy to tell a female shopper “If you don’t go to the back room with us and allow us to search you I will TAKE you down right her and tackle you to the floor.” Is this not police intimidation without cause? Before all was said and done that night, even the cop was telling the walmart prevention guy to just let me go… BECAUSE even he realized their mistake and that the walmart loss prevention guy first name Tom, was on an adrenaline RUSH and had made an error.

    I even told the walmart prevention guy I would pay for my own items, give him the $58 dollars cash just to have the whole stupid matter dropped. He said “I can’t let you go, it’s gone too far, if I do we, and walmart will be liable.”

    The public, and ALL WALMART shopperse everywhere need to BEWARE of how Walmart’s so called “loss prevention” people act. YOU, YOUR HUSBAND, YOUR WIFE, YOUR DAUGHTER, SON, MOTHER, or ANYONE in your family can have this happened to them, at any given time in any given walmart… PLEASE BEWARE.

    I’ve researched Walmart extensively over the past 4 months…and found horror store after horror story of how walmart loss prevention staff have harassed, attacked and even killed customers they “thought” were shoplifting… I have wondered at times if I had not went to the back room with them that night, would the cop have “tackled” me and taken me down as he’d threatened? Would they have set on my back collasping me chest as I read they did with one innocent man they wrongly accused of shoplifting?

    He died… he was a master carpenter, father, outstanding community member, but still walmart “loss prevention” targeted him as a “shoplifter” tackled him in the parking lot, (4 men) and sat on his back collasping his chest so he could not breath until he died. A child lost it’s father, a wife lost her husband, all for naught… All because 4 guys from walmart loss prevention were on an adrenaline high to “catch” someone… They didn’t find any of their “merchandise” on this man according to the story I read. HOW SAD. How absolutely SAD. I personally think all four people who attacked this man should be convicted of murder.

    God knows this sort of abuse is more than wrong.

  56. Chris Walters says:

    @fantomesq: They weren’t arrested, and their kids have nothing to do with any claims of “innocence.”

    They were detained in squad cars (one in handcuffs) while the police reviewed the video footage with Walmart personnel. The police then said that upon reviewing the footage, they did not believe any shoplifting had taken place and that they were free to go. At that point, Walmart employees told them they were banned.

  57. ospreyguy says:

    @fantomesq: RTFA

  58. treimel says:

    @fantomesq:

    Did you even come close to reading the actual article?

  59. sinfuly Delicious says:

    @skizsrodt: unfortunately no. think oj. he was found criminally innocent. but civilly was found guilty.

  60. ChemicallyInert says:

    @fantomesq: Two words: CIVIL LAWSUIT.

    This has nothing to do with the DA or charges.

  61. fantomesq says:

    @Chris Walters:

    Handcuffing a suspect after a temporary detention is generally considered an arrest unless exceptional circumstances exist. Bradley v. State

  62. shadowkahn says:

    @Chris Walters:

    Let’s go over it again, kids. If You Are Not Free To Leave, You Are Under Arrest. Even if the nice officer lies and says you aren’t, you are.

  63. Buckus says:

    @Smashville_now with Monster Energy: I see what you did there…Touche to you, sir.

  64. ARP says:

    @fantomesq: If they were detained by Wal-Mart (not an agent of the state), but only briefly handcuffed by the police, I’m not sure it’s an arrest, but its a close one.

  65. outlulz says:

    @ChemicallyInert: The problem is that as the article says Walmart pays hardball with lawsuits. If it moved to limited or unlimited court you would definitely need a lawyer and would have to demand a jury trial etc, and the legal fees would be absurd. So you would want the case to stay in small claims because it’s more more manageable without an attorney

  66. Tim says:

    @sinfuly Delicious: Not “guilty.” Civil suits don’t determine guilt or innocence. He was just found liable for some amount of damages.

  67. mizike says:

    @sinfuly Delicious: I’m normally the last person to debate semantics, but….

    A criminal court will NEVER say a person is “innocent”, they will find an accused person “guilty” or “not guilty” of the alleged crime.

    Similarly a civil court will find a person “liable” or “not liable” for the matter claimed in the lawsuit; they will never (or at least should never) say a person is guilty in a civil context (both due to the fact they are not considering a criminal matter and that the burden of proof is substantially lower).

  68. PSUSkier says:

    @thisistobehelpful: I’m guessing he’s referring to the shootings.

  69. AngryK9 says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: He was jailed because he gave the police a false name. Not really Walmart’s choice there. He tried to steal a 64GB iPod Touch ($379 at Walmart). He was fined $250. He’s not banned from entering a Walmart store.

    Think about it.

  70. Span_Wolf says:

    @mntr: wsn’t trllng, ‘m gy t dmbss.

  71. mralmostpopular says:

    @redskull: They can. All they have to do is stop shopping there.

  72. zandar says:

    @redskull: I’m doing my part- now to get everyone else in my midwestern town onboard. Not too likely I’m afraid.

    What’s to stop these guys from going to another Supercenter? Is there some kind of Walmart’s Most Wanted bulletin board?

  73. sonneillon says:

    @RecordStoreToughGuy_IsBeing(pur)SuedByAMonster: Best case scenario? They get maybe a a thousand bucks from slander, really there just is not much in terms of damages the couple was only embarrassed and other than not being able to shop at Walmart which is the prerogative of a Walmart employee to say certain people cannot come in there is nothing really there.

    I do not agree with what Walmart did, I might even say they were being pants on head retarded. I just do not think it is worthwhile to suen

  74. discounteggroll says:

    @redskull:

    thanks to wal-mart’s everyday low prices, a teen can actually swipe 3 CD’s, or a DVD and CD combination and still not see any legal recourse

    =/

  75. Gorphlog says:

    @snnlln:
    nd bng gy SHLDNT b prtctd clss. f y chs t lv prvrtd lfstyl y tk n th cnsqncs. ts n dffrnt thn plc f bsnss syng y cnt cm n f y wr bl jns. Ppl nd lgl prtctn fr thngs thy cnnt hlp sch s rc, gndr, r g

  76. JiminyChristmas says:

    @sonneillon: It’s generally true that sexual orientation is not a protected class, but it’s a little more complicated than that. There are approximately 12 states plus many more small jurisdictions (e.g.: municipalities) where sexual orientation has the same protections as race, sex, religion, etc.

  77. bennilynn says:

    @Gorphlog: People don’t choose to be gay. Did you choose to be straight?

  78. PunditGuy says:

    @Gorphlog: Logic fail. Religion is a choice, and is protected.

  79. AI says:

    @Gorphlog: You know what is actually a choice Gorphlog? Religion. If religious people choose to believe their bullshit they should face the consequences. Do you know what isn’t a choice? Sexual orientation. So if anything, discrimination against religion should be allowed, and discrimination against sexual orientation should not.

  80. sqlrob says:

    @Gorphlog:
    Religion shouldn’t be a protected class. After all, you choose your religion.

  81. Zorantor says:

    @Gorphlog: I have to say that I’m a little disappointed to see that you haven’t been banned/DV’ed for that comment yet.

    This is generally a pretty nice online community. I wouldn’t expect a bigot to be welcome.

  82. Covertghost says:

    @Gorphlog: As michael jackson would say:

    You’re ignorant… That’s ignorant

  83. Ragman says:

    @wickedpixel: Just wait until they start putting them in the Supercenters…

  84. Esquire99 says:

    @P_Smith:
    Walmart probably had the requisite reasonable suspicion to detain them until the police showed up. They were apparently observed putting an item in their bag that they did not scan and thus did not pay for. It seems Walmart might have been wrong in the end, but that doesn’t defeat the initial reasonable suspicion that justified the detention.

    Further, the illegal search and seizure provisions of the 4th Amendment only apply to the government (law enforcement), not to Walmart (private company). There are probably similarly applicable torts, but search and seizure isn’t one of them.

    Moreover, Defamation isn’t an easy case to make. The burdens are fairly high, in part because of the 1st Amendment. If Walmart had reason to believe they shoplifted, accusing them of it and ultimately being wrong probably doesn’t amount to defamation. The plaintiff shoppers would probably have to prove that at the time of the accusation Walmart KNEW that it was false. The fact it was ultimately proven false may not matter.

  85. Esquire99 says:

    @coren:
    That doesn’t lessen the validity of Walmart’s offer to settle a potential claim that they believe they may have. The fact that the shoppers may have a separate claim against Walmart also doesn’t extinguish the validity of any potential claim Walmart may have. Thus, the letter they sent offer to accept $158.xx in exchange for not bringing suit probably isn’t fraudulent. So long as Walmart actually believes they have some basis for a suit there probably isn’t anything (legally) wrong with them offering to settle.

  86. supercereal says:

    @RedwoodFlyer: I’m black myself, and I can’t stand how Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson unjustifiably bring race into every conceivable scenario. While it will never happen, legal battles and the media need to stick to the facts, and leave race/gender/sexual orientation/etc. out unless it is absolutely indisputable that it was a factor in the case.

  87. wvFrugan says:

    @Esquire99:
    And, fortunately, neither is your belief relevent to the average civil jury!

  88. takotchi says:

    @coren: Yeah, now that you mention it, I wonder who she -would- have been willing to sell them too. Probably not straight “fornicators” either.

  89. P_Smith says:

    @Esquire99: Define “reasonable suspicion”. Does that mean shopping while poor? Wearing clothes that have pockets or clothes looser than a spandex bodysuit?

    I’m not being snarkty with you, but it’s a ridiculous notion that “reasonable suspicion” is enough. The burden of proof must always lie with the accuser – prosecutors who knowingly file with insufficient evidence can be held accountable, so why not anyone else?

    Just as absolute power corrupts absolutely, if people and businesses can make accusations with impunity, they’re going to start making false accusations because they know there are no repercussions.

  90. Rob says:

    @supercereal: Thanks for telling us your black, this clearly makes your opinion more important then others and I now care more. How dare the media report that the kids said something, theres no proof of this other then what the kids say so it didn’t happen. Brilliant. I guess we know where you stand on the side of “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound” debate.

    Thank You!

  91. Esquire99 says:

    @P_Smith:
    The things you mention would not be sufficient to make reasonable suspicion. The security guard, etc. needs to be able to articulate why they think the person shoplifted; essentially, did the guard see the shopper stick something in his pocket? The guard doesn’t have to be right, but he needs to believe he saw someone shoplift. All that “accusation” gets them is the opportunity to briefly detain the person to investigate further. This is a well-established privilege that retailers have.

    As far as your analog to the prosecutor, it’s not really the same. A prosecutor who files charges may be held accountable if he does so on a knowingly insufficient basis, but he can certainly arrest the person and investigate so long as there is probable cause.

    The burden necessary to justify a detention and the burden necessary to move forward with, or to succeed, in a prosecution are different. In this case, Wal-Mart only needed to show that they had reasonable suspicion that the person shoplifted. Once they cross that hurdle, they can briefly detain the individual to investigate further. Being ultimately wrong doesn’t extinguish the initial right to detain.

  92. supercereal says:

    @Rb: Wlcm t crmnl lw. f t cn’t b prvn, t lglly ddn’t hppn. r y srsly rtrdd?

  93. mantari says:

    @StanTheManDean: Yes, someone can look at me and my partner shopping (two guys, one cart) and quickly put 2 and 2 together from there. It isn’t rocket science.

  94. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    @StanTheManDean: No matter what you are wearing, assuming you aren’t nude or revealing privates, if you are not verbally or physically attacking, harassing or disturbing other customers or employees, than the damn staff should leave you alone and shut up, period.

  95. Rob says:

    @supercereal: You’re right, thats why are legal system doesn’t ever rely on witnesses or anything of the like because they could just be saying made up shit.

    Thank goodness you cleared that all up.

  96. mon0zuki says:

    @RedwoodFlyer: Wait a second though. Mom-and-pop shops may have their jackass moments, but they don’t have a massive, unchallangable corporation backing them.

    That, my friend, is a gigantic difference. One might actually have a chance to fight back against a small shop without going totally broke…

  97. coren says:

    @Areyouagoodlittleconsumer: Apparently, that checker.

  98. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @coren: This would make this incident the first time in history someone actually looked at what was listed on the receipt (as opposed to looking at the number of items or just glancing at it) and compared it to what was in the bag.

  99. mizike says:

    @shadowkahn: Arrest != Detention. There are both actual and legal differences between being detained by the police and being arrested by them.

  100. shadowkahn says:

    @mizike:

    From Miriam Webster: Arrest: “to take or keep in custody by authority of law”

    If you are not free to leave, then you have been taken and are being kept in the custody of the officer who is not allowing you to leave. You are arrested.

    From Black’s Law Dictionary: “The apprehending or detaining of a person in order to be forthcoming to answer an alleged or suspected crime.”

    If you are not free to leave, then you have been detained, and are therefore under arrest.

    And from Terry v. Ohio (1968 US Supreme Court case) “An arrest is the initial stage of a criminal prosecution. It is intended to vindicate society’s interest in having its laws obeyed, and it is inevitably accompanied by future interference with the individual’s freedom of movement, whether or not trial or conviction ultimately follows”

    If the cop tells you you can’t leave, then he is interfering with your freedom of movement and has therefore arrested you.