Here’s some advice for you, the regular customer who doesn’t shoplift: never go into the back of a store with a security guard, store manager, rent-a-cop, etc. Never. Someone posted the following story in the Janesville, Wisconsin CraigsList over the weekend. Because the poster cooperated in good faith with the security personnel at her local Menards home store, she had to pay $150 to avoid having the police called on her.
(I’ve edited the post for clarity and punctuation.)
So I will start off saying my husband and I have been shopping at Menards since they opened and because of our business we are there almost daily and sometime twice a day. This afternoon [November 7th, 2009] we came for the second time to get lumber and paint. I just bought my husband a surprise drywall gun last night from Menards so in exchange he thought it would be nice to look at a new drill for me.
I have had my eye on a light weight compact cordless so we started comparing them. He noticed a complete set of 2 drills, bat, chargers and so on but they were not on display, just in the box. Well I opened the box so I could see how light they are and they were perfect for me. I picked everything up that I removed from the box and stuffed it back in the box and set it in the cart. I tried to close the top of the box however because i removed everything it would not go back in place, So I left the box open.
We had several items in our cart and within a minute I found some drill bits to go with my new set so I tossed the small package in the cart. I turned my back to talk to my husband about more bits and some guy comes cruising around the corner grabs my cart and takes off walking very fast. “HEY you have my cart!” I yelled to the guy as he was already down the aisle. He let go of the cart said sorry and disappeared around the corner leaving my cart. I walked down, grabbed the cart, and came back to my husband. Very strange we both thought but we just continued shopping.
Over to building materials we went before checking out. We checked our items out (over $300.00) and the cashier never questioned the open box or looked inside.
We leave the store and a man walks up and asks for our receipt. My husband went to pull it out of his wallet and before he gets it out the guy reaches into the drill box and pulls out the small pack of drill bits. He looks at us and said you took these. We replied oh they must have been missed we will come back in and pay for them.
The guy who we now know as security asked us to come back inside. We went inside expecting to pay for the $5.99 drill bits and he tells us we have to fill out an incident paper.
They take our cart full of $300.00 worth of stuff and lead us into the security room. Inside the room we are sitting in silence while this guy is filling out paperwork and a lady that works as a CSM(?) is standing guard at the door like we are hard criminals ready to flee the country.
After several minutes of silence I ask if I am being charged for something. The security man said no I just need you to fill out this paperwork and give me your drivers license.
So I hand over my license and he said to me that he’d seen the drill bits on top of the open box then he’d seen us walk into the checkouts and not pay for them. I could not believe what I was hearing. I told him over and over this is a mistake I threw the bits in the cart and they must have landed on the box. The guard then said maybe they slipped further in the box when you moved your cart. He said well that sounds like you’re just having bad luck. My husband asked if they’d seen me put the package in the box. He would not respond.
He then told me I have 2 choices. I can pay Menards $150.00 or they will call the police and charge me with theft and a $350.00 fine. We could not believe what was happening. CHARGE ME WITH THEFT! JUST BAD LUCK??? What is happening! Have they gone crazy!
I have thrown items in my cart many times and never thought twice about it. I understand if the bits were in my pocket or hidden under everything in the box but they were on top of a opened box that the cashier never even looked in the box. Honest mistake is what I call it not bad luck or theft.
So now I am in tears and faced with a choice I never thought I would make in my life. We run a professional business and I would never want to risk my reputation by being hauled out of Menards in front of everyone by the police. I was told to sign the paperwork and pay the $150.00 to avoid this from happening. So I signed and paid what they called a restitution. They refused to give me a copy of the paperwork I signed. Then they sent us on our way with tears in my eyes. I went quietly but I can’t let this go.