Never Follow A Security Guard Into The Back Of The Store

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.

“Just having bad luck???? (Beloit Menards)” [] (Thanks to M!)
(Photo: TheTruthAbout…)


Edit Your Comment

  1. AI says:

    WHY H WHY DD Y PY???????

    • Taed says:

      @AirIntake: They answered that: “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.”

    • KittensRCute! says:

      seriously that was my first thought. and why did she sign something without reading it??? WHY???

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @AirIntake: OP made a huge mistake here allowing the Security Guard to talk her into signing. Don’t believe everything some security guard tells you. If the police came, most likely you would not have had to pay anything, and certainly you would not have been embarrassed in front of your neighbors.

      They were LYING to you trying to scare you into paying and you fell for the scam.

      • Difdi says:

        @Shadowman615: If you walk up to a random stranger, and threaten to file a false police report unless they pay you $150, that is the crime of extortion. Why do corporations get a free pass on this?

        On the other hand, the OP shares some liability here too. Not closing the merchandise box. Not checking to make sure nothing had slipped inside. Obeying a receipt checker then going back into the store. Signing a confession, that admits to shoplifting they didn’t do. Paying $150 after signing a confession for something they didn’t do.

        It makes me wonder, would they have signed over their car if the security guard had demanded it of them?

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          @Difdi: Does shoplifting require the thief to leave the store? I realize that she didn’t shoplift, but by the sound of it she hadn’t actually left the store with any unpaid merchandise. She stopped at the receipt checker and even if she said she was going to “come back in and pay for them.”

          I wonder if the security jerk was the one who grabbed her cart and walked away with it. She should probably call the cops and the headquarters of the store about this.

    • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

      @AirIntake: Please, no all caps posts.

    • NatalieErin says:

      @AirIntake: She paid because she was scared.

      This is one place where, even though the OP made mistakes, I can’t criticize her. An almost identical thing happened to me when I was a teenager. I made the decisions I made because I was terrified and had no idea what my rights were.

      • korybing says:

        @NatalieErin: Exactly. She was scared and trying to do the right thing. She just wanted the business to be over with and didn’t realize until afterwards when the fear wasn’t so overwhelming that what happened was weird. Not everybody can act level-headed in a confusing situation. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in the name of “just get it over with so I can get out of this situation” that I later beat myself up over because if I had just calmed down and looked at what was going on I would have realized that I could have done something smarter. I don’t blame the OP at all for what she did, even if it’s going to cause her headaches later.

    • Mythandros says:


      I say call the cops, go back to the store, talk to the manager (Not some dumb supervisor under the sway of the big, mean security guard.) Tell them that if they don’t pay you BACK your money AND issue a PUBLIC apology, that you will press kidnapping charges (the supervisor blocking the door has NO right to keep you from leaving if you’re not being charged with anything, that’s unlawfull detainment, hence kidnapping.) harassment charges and extortion charges.

      That should get the (obviously corrupt) security guard fired AND also threaten physical assault charges if he so much as laid a finger on you.

      This should get the attention of the store management pretty quickly, and get your situation resolved even faster.

      Peice of mind = raising hell at a store that you have more than frequently visited and has broken several laws and damaged your rights.

      By the way, I am NOT a lawyer. Please take this advice at face value.

  2. acasto says:

    WHAT and WHY did you sign? I would really be interested in knowing what exactly was in the document they had them sign and why they wouldn’t give them a copy of it. Did it contain an admission of guilt? Did they ban them from store? My wife is from Wisconsin, not far from Janesville. Now I know to stay away from Menards next time I’m up there.

    • Franklin Comes Alive! says:


      Agreed, the proper response here is to call (or at least threaten to call) 911 and report false imprisonment.

    • ludwigk says:

      @acasto: If someone asked me to sign something, which they would not give me a copy of, and demand that I pay some sort of fine, *I* would be the one calling the police. Someone who is paying $300 for hardware is not going to attempt to steal $6 worth of bits.

      I would take this STRAIGHT to the local news because “Menards” is CLEARLY extorting hush money from its customers.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @ludwigk: It is a risk. The item was stolen. Depending on the cop you could be validly charged. It just depends on how much the cop wants to believe intent and if the cop is willing to accept it.

        Cops most of the time will use the excuse that it is not their job to interpret the law when they make obvious mistakes. But this is one instance where that excuse enables them to arrest you for shoplifting.

        Most likely a good cop would just try to talk the idiot store out of it, but if they really want you arrested, you will probably be arrested.

        Then you get to tell your story to a judge. This means you have to go to court and pay for a lawyer. No matter how innocent you are if you show up without a lawyer you will be found guilty.

        Fighting this after signing stuff is also pointless. The paperwork probably says if you sue them or reverse the 150 dollar fee, they will report you to the police. The police will charge you because the paperwork probably says you admit to theft. Then a lawyer cannot even save you in court.

        • DollaValueLIFO says:

          @Corporate_guy: Theft involves intent, you know that, right?

          Also, real cops hate, HATE, loss prevention personnel. If a cop has to waste any time on this kind of issue, particularly where the accused demonstrates a desire to pay for the item and a reasonable story, the cop is likely to just roll his eyes and tell LP to suck it.

        • bairdwallace says:

          @Corporate_guy: “No matter how innocent you are if you show up without a lawyer you will be found guilty.”

          That does not sound right to me…

    • QuantumRiff says:

      @acasto: I go to one of the two East Madison’s Menards all the time. This kind of crap makes me look more and more at Home depot, which sits right across the street.

    • fett387 says:

      @acasto: This doesn’t add up. Is this a fake story? I would think that someone that owns a business would know better than to sign papers of which they don’t have copies. Plus, why would an honest person be worried about having the police called on them? If they didn’t steal, then there would be no evidence (i.e. video of them hiding the drill bits in the box). To many other questions…

  3. leftturnonred says:

    Isn’t it illegal to make somebody pay you money so that they will not call the cops? Even just making you pay for bits almost sounds like it would be illegal, but then the added 140-or-so dollars seems like something illegal.

    • ecwis says:

      @leftturnonred: Yep, sounds like extortion to me.

    • Tim says:

      @leftturnonred: Ehh, it’s more like a pre-trial settlement. Or at least it can be seen as such, if you really wanted it to.

      • Falcon5768 says:

        @CaptZ: nice hidden swipe asswipe.

        BTW, there is an app for that, and it comes with the phone pre-loaded.


      • kc8dhx says:


        Its called a civil demand and is perfectly legal in most states for use with shoplifters


        Its not extortion at all folks…

      • allknowingtomato says:

        @TCama: No, it’s not a pre-trial settlement. Calling the cops would be to report shoplifting, a crimial offense. Requesting $$ in exchange for not calling the cops is extortion. Requesting $$ in exchange for not filing a civil suit would be a settlement.

        Did the OP pay the bribe with a credit card? get them to take the money back.

        • LegalBill says:

          @allknowingtomato: You are absolutely right–this is a classic case of extortion or blackmail. The crime is not demanding the money. The crime is theatening to report the crime, regardless of whether the action to be reported was a crime or not, in exchange for gaining something of value or obtaining a civil advantage. On fact, the most common examples of extortion involve threats to report the absolute truth. Take the David Letterman case. If the reporter that threatened to report his afairs had just reported them, no crime would have occured (in fact, the First Amendment would have protected the reporter from defamantion claim). However, once the reporter threatened to report IF Letterman failed to pay money, then the crime of extortion occured. Like in the Letterman case, it doesn’t matter that the store otherwise had a right to report the crime.

    • bravo369 says:

      @leftturnonred: sounds like what the RIAA does. Pay even though they have no evidence.

  4. ergasiophobiac says:

    Second mistake: Signing the paperwork and not having the cops come. If they’d had a reasonable police officer come, they’d likely have walked away with little to no issues. At the worst they would have been ticketed and could have contested it in court. I would bet money that the papers she signed waived every right she had available to contest this.

    • shadowkahn says:

      @ergasiophobiac: Yes, Ecwis. She signed under duress. It’s invalid. Sue the SOB’s.

      • billy says:

        @shadowkahn: AFAIK, the threat of calling the police is not “duress”. When you sign a contract (which is, essentially, what she did), you can usually only claim duress if there is a physical threat.

        • joshua70448 says:

          @billy: Well, threatening to call the police (with the implied hauling out in front of friends and neighbors) sounds like a threat to their reputation, which could hurt their business. So sure, there wasn’t physical threat, but there was an implied monetary threat (plus the threat of paying more fines to the police if they didn’t sign).

          • billy says:

            @joshua70448: If the store honestly believes that she stole something, they CAN call the police whether she signs something or not. Therefore, the threat of calling the police is not duress. She probably signed an admission that she stole something in lieu of them calling the police. The choice was hers and she chose not to exercise her right to have the police sort this out.

            If I saw somebody stealing something out of my house and I told them, “give it back or I’ll call the police,” would they be “under duress” if they actually gave it back?

            Duress is, “sign this or I’ll break your legs”…literally.

            • shadowkahn says:

              @billy: “give it back or I’ll call the police” is materially different than “give it back, and pay me $150 or I’ll call the police,” and I suspect you know that. Stop trolling.

          • billy says:

            @joshua70448: >>>Well, threatening to call the police (with the implied hauling out in front of friends and neighbors) sounds like a threat to their reputation, which could hurt their business.

            What you are arguing, though, is that a store (or police, for that matter) would NEVER be able to detain anybody if they reasonably believed she was stealing. I’m premising my argument on the fact that stores CAN detain you if they believe you are stealing. As others have pointed out, many jurisdictions DO allow some self help in this form.

            If she was so worried about her reputation, she could have called the police and had them sort it out. Even if the police didn’t believe her, it’s a little too bad. She could, then, sort it out in front of a judge: that’s what they are there for. As it stands now, she signed a document admitting (I’m assuming) that she stole something. How does that help her reputation?

        • Taelech says:

          @billy: such as imprisonment and the only way of getting free is signing?

        • bwcbwc says:

          @billy: Wouldn’t the detainment/false imprisonment be a physical threat in and of itself.

          • billy says:

            @bwcbwc: *if* she was being falsely detained, then yes. But stores DO, normally, have the right to reasonable detainment if they suspect that you’ve been stealing.

            Again, her choice was sign the admission and pay OR call the police. As others have asked, why didn’t she just call the police?

  5. Ohpine says:

    The solution is ridiculously simple…

    You look him square in the eye and say “Don’t bother Sir”, and you pull out your cellular phone and call the police immediately. You tell them exactly what happened and that the security personal at this store has just tried to extort you out of $150 (Extortion is a felony).

    You watch his eyes go as wide as saucers, and all of the colour drain out of his face, perhaps he’ll be even more stupid and make a grab for your phone, at which point he’ll be taking on a second misdemeanor for trying to prevent you from contacting the police in an emergency.

    This is a pretty dicey game these morons are playing, I’ll wager the person who dropped those bits into the box is the same person who stole your cart… and my wager is that they’re either working with the store in loss prevention, or they’re working with this asshat in his scheme.

    • XTC46 says:

      @Ohpine: no, they were her bits. She says so. The guy grabbing her cart probabaly was just a guy who grabbed the wrong cart, ive done this before and have had it done to me before.

    • bohemian says:

      @Ohpine: Sounds like a pretty lucrative racket. $150 for every person you scare the crap out of.

      They need to get in contact with Menard’s corporate or even better go file a police report for extortion. Had a cop actually shown up and heard the entire story and the instance that the items were in the cart they are probably going to try to talk the store manager out of pressing charges.

    • harvey_birdman says:

      @Ohpine: Except you are taking an awful risk that the security guard isn’t A) an off duty cop, B) a relative of whatever uneducated police officer shows up, or C) an freaking lunatic who will break your phone, physically assault you and then claim you resisted his “lawful detention”.

      • qcgallus says:

        @harvey_birdman: On this subject (this lunatic), I have an honest question.

        If one has a permit to carry a firearm, and they were detained in such a way, does anyone know if it would be lawful to draw a weapon? I mean this in the cases where the security/LP person makes an effort to detain you after you have said “good day.” As I understand the laws, and as a person would feel in such a situation (beign with a security guard and having someone else “guard” the door) it would not be illegal to draw a pistol on someone preventing you from leaving.

        • RPHP says:

          @qcgallus: I think it matters where you are but to threaten deadly force when no deadly force is used against you would in many cases not be allowed.

        • Crim Law Geek says:

          You’d be taking an awful risk. Being held against your will may be a valid reason to use deadly force in your state, but if that holding is legitimate (i.e. to prevent a crime or as part of a valid arrest), then the use of deadly force is not allowed.

          For example, I’m not allowed to pull a gun out on a cop who does the same while arresting me, since the cop is acting within the law. The same goes if you replace the cop with anyone else making a lawful arrest (i.e. someone making a citizen’s arrest).

  6. howie_in_az says:

    If anyone accuses you of anything and tries to strong-arm you into doing something, tell them to die in a fire and call the cops yourself. Don’t pay some stupid ransom and certainly don’t hand over your personal information to them.

    Some security guy gets in your face and accuses you of something? Whip out your cell phone and say you’d like to record this incident on video to prevent any miscommunications.

    Rent-a-cop sticks you in a room? Start calling corporate offices and news stations. Get names, badge numbers, employee ID numbers, everything you can think of.

  7. CaptZ says:

    I would have gone with the cops and told the cops what they offered me. I use my cell phone to record coversations just like this. All cell phones now days have a voice recorder….except maybe the god-phone…..

  8. aybara says:

    Biggest mistake was paying anything.

    Let the cops come. The accused was more than willing to pay for an ‘oversight’.

    The store should’ve let them pay and left it at that.

    But I would’ve called the cops on the obvious extortion the store was pulling.

  9. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Call the cops yourself. Make the “security” guy and whoever else on Menard’s side wait for the cop to arrive. I’m sure they’d be coming up with any excuse they could to leave before the cops got there.

  10. BklynHotniss says:

    I understand why you complied. It wasn’t the “protecting my civil rights” right thing to do but you were afraid and did not want to cause a stir. My advice to you is to now call an attorney. A huge one that can guarantee you some sort of victory. Do not use a single item you purchased and preserve your receipt. Do this quickly. Hopefully the lawyer will suggest you file a police report. I would also be concerned about getting the video footage from inside and outside the store before they chuck it. Protect yourself. You never know when this thing could come back and bite you or your family later. Good Luck!

  11. organicgardener says:

    OMFG…why did you do that? Why didn’t you just tell them “Go ahead & call the police! I did NOT steal anything!” Then explain to the police when they get there. Besides, at only $5.99 – especially when you bought all of the other stuff – I sincerely doubt they’d have done anything.

    You (1) signed something that they wouldn’t even give you a copy of and (2) gave them $150? I’m sorry, but that wouldn’t fly for 1 second with me!

  12. G.O.B.: Come on! says:

    She should have told the rent-a-cop to go fuck himself and call a real cop when he was done.
    Unless the police that would have arrived were as ridiculously stupid as the store, it would have gone like so:

    1. Police arrives and gets the explanation from asshole mall-cop and whatever likewise store manager is on hand.
    2. The couple explains that they paid for $300 in goods; why would they bother stealing $5.99 in drill bits?
    3. (Increasingly un)common sense prevails…(?)

  13. DanKelley98 says:

    I’d find out from Menards corporate whether this is their policy or the “policy” of the security guard.

    As others said, I would have called the cops myself right away – and refused to hand over any money.

    Did you pay cash or credit?

  14. ganzhimself says:

    Well, I know where I won’t be doing my home improvement shopping. Too bad, as I just bought a house and need a number of things and I was thinking I’d go to the local Menards. Not any more.

    • Costner says:

      @ganzhimself: I know when we read these types of stories we tend to side with the person who submitted it, but keep in mind that there are always two sides to every story.

      There could be a lot more to this story than what has been posted here, and the author could have embellished details in order for her story to be more dramatic.

      I’m not defending Menards here since I have no idea what really happened, but I’m not about to make my purchasing decisions based upon one isolated incident at one store based upon the comments of an anonymous poster who I will never meet. If we start to hear about similar stories from other Menards then so be it, but one case?

      Find me a store anywhere in the nation that has been open for more than 10 minutes where a customer doesn’t think he or she has been wronged. If you won’t shop anywhere where something like this has happened, you will need to avoid every retail store in the country.

  15. MEoip says:

    You my friend shouldn’t have signed. Call their bluff by calling the police. It’s of course not to late to file an AG and BBB complaint.

  16. GitEmSteveDave_OverSleptThisMorn says:

    The food store I worked at used to do the same thing. The average shoplifter steals ~$150 in merch, and if they get caught, it’s probably not the first time it happened. Also, it cost the store WAY more than $150 to have our loss prevention people take the time off to goto court. So rather than involve the police and have them hit with a large fine, they would sign an agreement, and if they didn’t pay, we would then press charges officially.

  17. bogartbrown says:

    There was an eerily similar post on my local CL a couple months ago.

    Buyer has something small under larger items in the cart, forgets about it, leaves then security magically appears. Buyer offers to pay for mistaken item, but security whisks them away and offers an extortion payment in lieu of theft charge.

    Similar story here:

    This just seems too weird.

    But I just got my “birthday coupon” for a free 13-in-1 pocket tool, so I have to go at least one more time…

    • acasto says:

      @bogartbrown: Wow, I can’t believe how many jerks commented on that article you linked to. I can’t believe the sorry state of common sense in our society. So many people willing to justify outrageous cowboy-like behavior on a technicality or a whim. Another thing that I find completely ridiculous is the quality of our justice system when it comes to civil matters. Sure, you can get the opportunity to try to show your innocent, that is if you can afford to ante up in the first place. Typically it’s just cheaper to say your guilty irregardless and pay-up.

  18. dantsea says:

    I guess I won’t be saving big money at Menards.

  19. Zanorfes says:

    They should change their name to “Mean Bastards”. It would be interesting to see just what the paperwork said. Oh let the bad publicity for them begin.

  20. Tiber says:

    I’m just playing armchair lawyer here, but can’t contracts be invalidated if they are signed under duress? As long as she can argue that that was the case, it’s not as if she’s already signed away her rights.

  21. ChemicallyInert says:

    Sounds like a scam perpetrated by the folks in the store. Call an attorney- even if it was a scam the store is responsible for the conduct of its employees. File a police report IMMEDIATELY.

  22. damageddude says:

    Assuming all is true in her story: I would’ve said: (1) call the police, (2) call the manager so the manager can see the absurdity of a regular customer stealing $6 in a $300 order and (3) explained to the manager how much business I bring to the store and, assuming I had the receipts to back it up, explained to the manager how the regional manager and everyone up the chain and explain how in this economy they are going to let thousands of dollars of business go to their competitor over a $6 error unless I got an official apology right then and there with the caveat that if I even hear there is paperwork accusing me of theft that our next conversation will be in civil court when I sue all involved for libel.

    I also would have signed nothing nor handed over my license. I don’t even show my license when a clerk asks me for it when using a credit card (which they are not really allowed to do in my state).

  23. Aristotle-or-PlayDoh says:

    Menards has a very aggressive attitude toward shoplifting, by reputation.
    $6 drill bits IS a small item, but shoplifters could buy a cartload of stuff to hide the shoplifted item, get away with it, and then return the other camouflage items on the receipt. Success! but for $6??
    The fault here is that there is (probably) a corporate policy of zero tolerance. No allowance for common sense. On top of that, there is probably pressure on the Loss Prevention Dept. to ‘catch’ their quota. It’s a shame, because they will lose a lot of business from this.
    Checkers at my Menards go through the items, looking for stuff – They will pick up 80# bags of softener salt to make sure nothing is between them. One told me they find expensive saw blades like this all the time, which the customer ‘forgot’about.
    Altogether, I’d say don’t sign, though.

    • shadowkahn says:

      @Aristotle-or-PlayDoh: Yes, they do have a reputation for being aggressive toward shoplifters. And it’s a deserved one. When I worked there it was considered just fine to chase and restrain repeat-offender shoplifters (but if you did it, you’d better have been damn sure you had a real shoplifter or you’d be looking for a new job). Hell, I remember one time when a shoplifter got hogtied by the Millwork manager for pulling a knife after getting caught. (unfortunately for him, the millwork manager was also former special forces).

      But we’d have been fired if we’d demanded money from a shoplifter, and, at least in my store, if we’d tried to extort it the manager would have turned us over to the cops to face charges himself.

  24. floraposte says:

    “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”–so they were sufficiently visible for him to see them, therefore fairly visible, but the cashier missed them? And that’s the OP’s fault?

    Even allowing for the kind of fluster-muddled recollections people get in situations like this, it sounds like they want to claim they watched the OP’s cart demonstrate something visible at the time it went through checkout.

  25. soloudinhere says:

    Am I the only one who’s going to comment on the fact that she took apart a boxed retail item without asking a salesperson?

    It’s incredibly rude to take apart a retail box (especially if you can’t put it back together, which she couldn’t) and it opens you up for this kind of thing.

    Ask an associate to open it for you. It’s not yours to demolish until you’ve paid for it.

    /end rant.

    • XTC46 says:

      @soloudinhere: I agree with you %100. I hated working in retail and going around and finding rude customers who have opened tons of things then just left them laying around. THAT in it self is a big red flag since a lot of times when people steal things, they open the package and remove the contents.

    • takotchi says:

      @soloudinhere: I was going to post the same thing, but I was afraid it’d be seen as “blaming the OP”.

      I am with her on everything else, though. I was treated like a thief at a Walmart once. I had bought a couple of big plastic containers (nesting) and the cashier didn’t ring up 2, because she didn’t notice they were separate items. I didn’t notice that she didn’t notice because I had a billion other things in my cart. I foolishly handed the bouncer my receipt at the door (this was before I started reading Consumerist et al. and knew I didn’t have to do that). She had a loving fit when she discovered the extra plastic bin in my cart (mind you it’s like $3 at the most) and snatched it out of my cart and demanded I leave the store. She made a huge spectacle in front of all the shoppers.

      Not nearly as bad as the OP, but I can sympathize.

      • eelmonger says:

        @takotchi: Are you actually complaining that Walmart stopped you from stealing from them?

      • soloudinhere says:

        @takotchi: Hopefully it wasn’t seen as blaming the OP, since it didn’t directly lead to the situation–however, opening boxes and either removing or adding to the contents is a major theft tactic and if someone saw her doing this on a security camera, I can see them being VERY suspicious of her.

        Not saying she stole, because it sounds like she probably didn’t, but this is one of many reasons not to take apart boxes without permission…the first of which is that it’s just plain rude.

  26. StanTheManDean says:

    Got proof of the shake-down payment?

  27. micmuk says:

    A good lawyer would have them begging you to take back your money….and more!


  28. eyezick says:

    That’s a shame, if true (guys, it’s a craigslist post). Menard’s has always had customer service when I go.

    I do remember a couple high school friends of mine working there saying that they were pretty aggressive when it came to shoplifting. I wonder if this couple had been a little less hysterical and a little more assertive whether one of the shift managers would have seen how ridiculous the whole situation was.

  29. Aladdyn says:

    If she meant to or not she still “Stole” the item, as in didnt pay for it. If she didnt go back with the security person they could have called the police and she could have been arrested (assuming the security guard really followed protocol and watched her the whole time) The store would argue it was her responsibility to make sure the bits were scanned and paid for, since it was her actions that caused them to be hidden. She would argue that it was the stores responsibility to accurately find all items in the cart. Not sure which way something like that would go in court, but I think her best course of action would be to try and prove to a manager that they were almost daily customers and explain why she had an open box for the items to fall into. Of course in a situation like that its hard to think straight.

    • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

      @Aladdyn: Oh please, the police would have laughed at this situation. The police would have listened, ask her if she was willing to pay for the bits and everything would have been over.

      • JiminyChristmas says:

        @Charlotte Rae’s Web: Myself, I’m not sure I would have that much faith in the police being reasonable. It’s no less likely they would have made the arrest and let the court sort it out if the case was bogus.

      • Aladdyn says:

        @Charlotte Rae’s Web: Im not sure why you think that, people get arrested for shoplifting all the time, if a store wants to prosecute you cant just say “whoops you caught me ill pay for it now” You dont think the police have heard a million different stories like this from real shoplifters? How are they supposed to be able to know if they were telling the truth?

  30. strathmeyer says:

    I am not a lawyer, but I don’t think anything you sign under duress is legally binding.

  31. aka_mich says:

    Not to pile on to this particular Menards but 2 years ago (or was it last year, can’t remember) they fired my step-dad about a month before Christmas for buying his of age employees in his department a bottle of wine as a present. Mind you this was something he did as a yearly tradition for many years prior with the simple instructions not to drink it at work. Apparently after him being there for 16 years they decided so close to the holidays that this was a fireable offense.

  32. smokinfoo says:

    I will not be shopping at Menard’s again.

  33. vorpal_hamster says:

    I was buying plumbing fittings and I went thru the self-checkout at Home Depot. As I practice shotgun plumbing, I ended up returning all the ones that weren’t right. Apparently I threw a fitting in the bag that hadn’t scanned properly and it was light enough that it didn’t register on the scale. Of course, it wasn’t on the slip when I returned it. The clerk just went “hummph”, recognized me as a repeat customer and threw the fitting in the return bin without having me arrested.

    I was really worried for about 10 seconds because it was an honest mistake. They have failed to scan a frickin’ door before and I was too scared to go back and try to pay for it, for fear of being accused of shoplifting.

  34. dj-anakin says:

    So, when do you take them to court for extortion?

  35. Morbidsoul says:

    I sure as hell hope you returned the 300 dollars in product you just bought from them. Its bad enough you just gave them 150 dollars.. dont let them have your business as well.

  36. GC says:

    I wonder if this could be a situation for the mighty chargeback.

  37. DD_838 says:

    By signing she has admitted to stealing. The store can now demand more money (it happens all the time) and if it’s not paid they can still file charges. I can’t believe people can be intimidated by these “security guards”.

  38. whysthsncnsmrst says:

    This is why those who give 100% cooperation and lay down for these companies because they have “nothing to hide” will get screwed. Receipt check? No thanks. Don’t want to let me go? I’m calling the cops. Easy as 1-2.

  39. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    I have to blame the OP here. They’re respected small business owners, but don’t understand their rights as citizens or what extortion is? Ignorance is expensive, $150 in this case.

    I would NOT have allowed them to take the items I paid for ANYWHERE expect MAYBE to my vehicle. If they didn’t want me to go back and pay for the drill bits, I would have told them to keep them and continued leaving. If they threatened to call the police, I’d have whipped out my cell and dialed 911 myself.

  40. CRSpartan01 says:

    This company is notorious for practices like this. Let’s just say they’ve gained a certain reputation in the legal community. It’s ridiculous and I refuse to help fund their insanity.

  41. Ptath says:

    I can’t even start listing the number of policies these security guys broke. Not to mention numerous laws…

    They only way I can see this is as a rogues scamming clients for extra cash. Nothing else makes sense.

    A security guard does a citizen’s arrest – he is NOT law enforcement. There are a handful of cardinal rules that must ALL be there for an interception to go on legally, otherwise it is illegal incarceration. And security agencies drill their employees with these rules: They know any lapse opens the door to valid and expensive lawsuits, almost 100% of them lost.

    As to threaten calling the police unless you do XXX, that’s definitely extortion. You call, or you do not call – but NEVER threaten.

    Call a lawyer. Have the LAWYER call Menard. File a complaint with the police. Period.

  42. Thomas Palmer says:

    Also, never go into the back at a casino :-)

  43. rekoil says:

    A long time ago, a Home Depot security guard accused me of shoplifting…a SINGLE SCREW. Now, I did happen to have a single screw in my pocket – the very screw I was looking to find a match of because I needed more of them (Ironically, I didn’t).

    Didn’t matter that the screw was obviously something that had been removed from a piece of equipment.

    Good news was, he wasn’t the only security guard in the store. When he tried to take me into the back room, his boss realized he was being an utter dumbass, apologized and sent me on my way.

    I suspect, and sincerely hope, that that particular security guard didn’t stay a security guard for much longer after that.

    • psm321 says:

      @rekoil: That’s scary… I take obviously used parts into Home Depot or Lowe’s all the time to try and find a match, and I know I’ve seen many others do the same

  44. not from around here says:

    Menard, Inc.
    4777 Menard Dr.
    Eau Claire, WI 54703-9604
    WI Tel. 715-876-5911
    Fax 715-876-2868

    I’m still looking for email addresses.

  45. Scazza says:

    “So I signed and paid what they called a restitution. They refused to give me a copy of the paperwork I signed.”

    Oh My God, I can’t believe I just read that… Where do you think you live? Beijing?

  46. wcnghj says:

    If I were the OP, I’d have declined the receipt check..

  47. coren says:

    The signing of paperwork is pretty common. Paying on the spot is not and shouldn’t be done – that’s supposed to be done via their lawyers.

  48. PLATTWORX says:

    WHY ON EARTH DID THIS PERSON PAY?????????????? You let the cops be called and the store must prove the offense!

    Something isn’t right here or the OP is not very savvy… I am stunned.

    • NatalieErin says:

      @PLATTWORX: I’m sure no one will read to page 4, but just in case – the OP probably paid because she was scared.

      A nearly identical situation happened to me when I was in high school. I didn’t know my rights, and I was afraid/worried about missing work while I waited for the cops to show up, taking time and money to fight potential shoplifting charges, having the explain the entire situation to every damn person I know, etc, etc.

      This woman says she didn’t want everyone to see her dragged out of Menards in handcuffs. I can sympathize. Her friends and colleagues may very well be the sort of people who think only the guilty are ever arrested.

  49. SaraFimm says:

    The Loss Prevention measure at my store ALWAYS called the police. We didn’t have any “pay $150 and we’ll let you go” clause. We had video surveillance that was better than what Walmart had and the Police would answer fairly quickly.

  50. halcyondays says:

    $6 is petit larceny. I can’t see the cops getting their shorts in a wad over $6, even assuming charges could be filed. The whole thing is ridiculous.

  51. The_IT_Crone says:

    I’m sad that everyone is blaming her for this so vehemently. You know, there are a lot of honest people that would be so surprised by that situation that they’d be mentally unprepared for action.

    Lay off, sheesh.

  52. bjdhtgjvbhdgd says:

    Whenever someone threatens you with two options, one of which being much worse, it is ALWAYS a bluff! They’re just trying to trick you into accepting the less-bad option. Its really obvious if you consider what the security guard said. Menards doesn’t own the police and the judiciary. Menards can’t issue you a $350 fine nor can they insist the police do it. Menards is painfully aware that this wouldn’t hold up on court. If it would, they’d surely go after you for more money.

    I know this because I do it too. When I catch a student cheating, I know that the school will ALWAYS accept the students bogus explanation as to why they brought notes into the exam. So, the only for me to see justice done is to bluff. “Listen Johnny, I’m going to level with you. Either take a zero on this exam or I’ll go to *make up official sounding name* and get you kicked out.”

  53. floraposte says:

    So this page seems to have the relevant shoplifting statutes from Wisconsin: []

  54. Ronin-Democrat says:

    Everyone is telling them how to be badass.
    problem is this situation came about quickly and unexpectedly.

    There is a lesson to be learned here.
    Never Sign ANYTHING without reading it.
    More importantly this poster likely has a lawyer so a call should have been made to them and your statement to the security guard is I am not allowed to sign anything without my lawyer handling it.

    I hope the poster has returned their $300 purchase.

    • Chocotanya says:

      @Ronin-Democrat: Agreed, I can see myself being so shaken in this situation that I wouldn’t think to call the police either. I completely agree that they should have returned their entire purchase.

  55. evilpete says:

    Even if the police agreed with the store and gave her a ticket to appear in court

    Chances are the DA will see it as a waste of time and will dismiss it and/or the judge will laugh it out of court.

  56. The Dude says:

    Regardless, this poster sounds really annoying. Registers low on the sympathy scale and even a little suspicious with the crazy mystery cart-thief story.

    • Damocles57 says:

      @The Dude: And you are a private security guard where, Dude??

      I suspect you have a defective sympathy scale. Perhaps you should return it for one that works.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        @Damocles57: He’s just cranky because his rug got stolen. Not that I blame him, though; it really tied the room together.

  57. Melt says:

    Some great articles on the founder of Menard’s here…He’s nuts:

    How John Menard got beaten by his own attorney:

    Big Money:

    Legal Hell:

  58. millertime1211 says:

    You just bought the security department pizza and beer!

  59. kylere says:

    I would not sign anything if I was innocent

  60. GiselleBeardchen says:

    Who wrote this, Ralph and Alf?

  61. eskimo81 says:

    The mysterious man who runs off with your cart and then quickly disappears around a corner makes me think that either:

    a) The security gaurd is working with the mysterious cart stealer.

    b) The OP is trying to cover up with some kind of weird story.

    If the product is hidden enough for a cashier not to notice it, but the security gaurd knew it was in there, then either the security gaurd had to watch them put it in there, or was working with this “mysterious cart-stealer” to put it in there.

    If the store has security cameras, I would want to see the recordings to see what the heck actually went on with this strange cart-stealing person (if he actually exists)

    People opening boxes in a store happens, and it seems like it would be an easy way to steal something if you wanted to. You could then make up an easy excuse like “oh, it must have just fallen in”.

    As entertaining as the OPs story is, the idea that a security guy works out a plot with a mysterious person, to run off with carts and hide product inside of already open boxes in order to extort restitution payment seems less likely than this being ficticous.

  62. Onion_Volcano says:

    Menards supports illegal detention and extortion? Blimey.

  63. dumblonde says:

    I would have taken my gamble with the cops. Hopefully they would have had more common sense than that stupid security guard. Cops don’t like frivolous complaints.

  64. Bhockzer says:

    Does anybody else find it suspicious that after they placed the open box item in their cart, followed shortly by the $5.99 set of drill bits, that somebody came out of nowhere and took off with their cart until he was stopped before making it to the end of the aisle? The paranoid in me is screaming that whole thing sounds sort of like a set up. You’ve got a guy that quickly takes the cart, most likely jostling it as he goes. Which would allow for smaller items, the drill bits, the slip down into the box. Now the people are preoccupied by the fact that somebody just tried to make off with their cart, forget about the last item they put into the cart and head to the checkout. It doesn’t help that the person working the register didn’t catch the drill bits. Once everything is paid for, the security guard walks up to them once they’ve exited the store and almost immediately finds the drill bits. Then, once they’re in the back room, this same security guard makes a crack about how they’re having “bad luck.”

    Again, that’s the paranoid in me speaking. But it still sounds ridiculously shady, especially the refusing to give you a copy of the document you just signed. Which, I’m pretty sure, may be against the law, depending on where this took place.

  65. jpdanzig says:

    Jeez, it looks as if store chains have figured out yet another pathetic way to squeeze money out of customers — perish the thought they would EVER reduce the salary of their top execs!

    I would definitely write to Menards corporate and find out if this payoff is their policy — or the policy of the local store or what.

    If it is company policy — I would find another store that doesn’t extort and humiliate customers in this way. I’d even consider ordering stuff online — you’d probably get free shipping with a purchase over a certain amount, and you might be able to save on sales tax to boot.

  66. Julia789 says:

    I would have offered to drive with them to the police station and take a lie detector test right then and there. Of course it might be more complicated than that to arrange for one! They are not available on demand. But just letting them know you’re willing to go that far might help to prove it was truly an accident and you’re serious about clearing your good name.

  67. nelsonj1998 says:

    You see, it starts simple. Security tags on everything we buy. They are there to ‘prevent theft and keep prices low.’ I mean, ‘If you aren’t a criminal then it shouldn’t bother you’.. until you get home and can’t open your CD/DVD or find that your new jeans have a huge non-removable security tag pinned to them still.

    When people get used to that idea, and the stores want to impose a little more on us, it’s on to the receipt checks at the doors. They are there to ‘prevent theft and keep prices low.’ But again, ‘If you aren’t a criminal then it shouldn’t bother you.’ You can search this very site for yourself and find plenty of problems that arose from receipt checks at the doors.

    And now what have we come to? This story. But it’s ok because they are doing it to ‘prevent theft and keep prices low.’ And really, ‘If you aren’t a criminal then this shouldn’t bother you.’

  68. guspaz says:

    Couldn’t she just say this?

    “It was an unintentional mistake, and I didn’t notice the drill bits. I’d be happy to pay for the drill bits or leave them here and shop elsewhere. Either way, I will now be leaving. If you attempt to stop me, I will call the police and press charges against you for false imprisonment. Good day.”

  69. BrazDane says:

    I think the problem a lot of times is that even if you are innocent you happened to do something that is the MO of real shoplifters and jaded security guards and police officers might just turn a deaf ear to your ‘it was a mistake’ explanations.

    ANyhow, if someone believe I did something wrong and threaten to call the police, I would probably tell them to go ahead because I would trust the police to make the right decision. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, as we have seen in some receipt-check instances. In addition, you can’t be sure if the security guard might embellish things a bit, just to make sure you fit the shoplifter profile to a dot with the police. If I had a suspicion that this might happen, I might also go with the $150 ‘fee’. However, I would make sure to get copies of everything I signed, and if I had already signed and didn’t get it, to prove everything was solved, I would be calling the police myself.

    When it’s all said and done, if this story is exactly like it is told here, it is very bad judgment on the part of Menards. I used to work retail and we could not risk accusing anyone of shoplifting unless we were 110% sure. Better to let 3 get away than accuse an innocent person in front of everyone. This si likely to cost Menards more in lost revenue than they could ever make up in loss prevention this way.

  70. Cervantes3773 says:

    Sounds like whatever was signed, was signed in duress, making the contract voidable.

    Call Menards upper management, call the cops. It sounds like you didn’t do anything wrong, and that the store definitely did.

    Good luck.

  71. Buckus says:

    At least if you shoplift at Walmart, they won’t try to extort you; they call the cops everytime. Drives the cops crazy in these parts. At one Walmart I went to, about 9/10 times I went there would be cops out front.

  72. BritBoy says:

    Its essential to understand what exactly the OP signed. Second, for what exactly did she pay $150 ? The article seems to say that this was restitution. Restitution for what ?
    Its quite possible the OP signed and admitted to theft and agreed to pay restitution in exchanged for the store dropping charges.

  73. Avrus says:

    So …. this all could have been avoided by not showing your receipt? Amirite?

  74. joshua70448 says:

    Every time I see the title of this page on my Firefox tab, I only see “You’re a Cri…” and I keep thinking it says “You’re a Criminal, Charlie Brown!”…

  75. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    She paid $150 and received no paperwork and no receipt. I smell a scam by the security guard. Go back to the store and get paperwork from the manager or district manager.

    “I can pay Menards $150.00 or they will call the police and charge me with theft and a $350.00 fine.”

    Where do they get this $350 figure? Is it the standard local court fine for convicted shoplifters?

  76. mexifelio says:

    I’ve always wondered why people think it is ok to open merchandise in the store. If I EVER had to do this, I would take it over to a customer service department or have a sales associate open the box for me so they take on the responsibility of opening the product.

  77. BritBoy says:

    OP, Consumerist : can we see details of the document that was signed by OP. That may reveal all !

  78. VictorOfBorge says:

    If accused of a crime by any store LPO or the police do not talk to them without your attorney. Period. Anything you say will be used against you! Notice, there is absolutely NO requirement for any exculpatory statement to be included.

    Please watch this if you haven’t already:

  79. dave731 says:

    Ok one thing you are all forgetting here is this happened in a small town in WISCONSIN !? If you called the police likely the guy that showed up would be the brother in law of the rent a cop and then you would be faced with a “How Much You Got Boy?” Fine. The OP did the right thing, get away then draw attention to the situation after the fact.

  80. kd1s says:

    Here is something to keep in mind. Once you leave the store you don’t have to stop for anyone. Just keep walking to your car.

  81. tn_avenger says:

    Menards just lost more business than $5.99 through this post. Seriously, has anyone considered the impact of this site? This would be something like the Jim Cramer effect.

  82. nevesis says:


    Menards security has gotten some *really* bad press before for this kind of crap!

  83. bigd7387 says:

    I don’t think things add up with what she writes on “Craig’s List”. I work retail and you can not stop people unless you have seen exactly where the item was put, and watched the person from the time it happen until they walk out with the unpaid item. You then have to be able to tell exactly where the items where hiden. From the story she wrote the security guard was able to do that without hesitation. I don’t think her story rings true and if it was an accident the ask to speak with the police not the L.P.
    I am sorry I have heard everything. People steal alot more than I think you realize. They steal used makeup and perfume testers. They will stand there with a baggy and scoop face cream out of a jar so they don’t have to pay for it. They will use almost an entire bottle of something and then come back in and demand thier money back. They take their old shoes off and put them in boxes and walk out with new ones. I have seen them bring their little kids in so they can teach them how to steal too. I have seen judges wives and Church Deacon’s wifes all steal there is no one type of person that steals. I don’t really trust most people.

  84. There's room to move as a fry cook says:


  85. ehejl says:

    It’s hilarious to see the knee jerk reactions on this site. Did Chris Walters even bother attemping to contact this annonymous Craigslist poster regarding their completely ridiculous story? $100 says he didn’t.

  86. xskeptictankx says:

    This is why you bring a cell phone when you shop. I would have had the cops at the door (go ahead, let them escort me out instead of some idiot Menards employee) before I signed or paid for an additional anything.

    I’d definitely threaten a lawsuit & get a lawyer to subpoena them for the surveillance video.

  87. qwerty001984 says:

    You should have given the bits and left, if they held you then you should have called the police.

    The police would have called all of them retards and let you leave.

  88. vladthepaler says:

    A cop, unlike the security guard, would have heard you out. If you’re being bullied, getting an unbiased third party to settle the dispute is your best move.

  89. the.kuykendallz says:

    Um, If you live in Janesville(or almost any other city) where a Wal-Mart is you will notice a police booth. That is because any incidents in-store will involve the police. I would not sit idle. Get the police involved as soon as possible it will be on cameras that record unless the entire store is in on this. Do not hesitate! That is not only extortion but strong-arm robbery because you were held against your will without police involment.

  90. outraged8 says:

    First, why would you sign and essentially admit your guilt? Second, contact a lawyer and the local news media and have them contact Menards’ corporate office to file an official complaint. Third, it looks like Menards and other stores have a nice side business of extorting money out of honest but naive public, their customers!!! This is an outrageous practice that deserves local if not national spotlight for public attention on what these stores are doing to their customer base. You may risk losing some money (court fees and fines) and time, if in fact you do lose the case, but these corporations have a lot more at stake with their name, image and faith from their customer base. I don’t think they would want to wager or risk these for a measly $5.99.

  91. MikeT says:

    This does seem to be legal, though she probably would have been better off letting them call the cops. Here’s an article talking about the civil restitution laws relating to shoplifting which a number of states have passed:


    The article gives an example of a man detained by Home Depot for “stealing” a couple of screws which he’d brought from home so that he could match the threads.

  92. Torie says:

    These people’s business required that they be in the store at least once or twice a day? These people must have done something prior to this to get store security’s attention. Signing the form and paying $150 sounds like a load to me. I can’t see these people as victims because they cooperated so stupidly.

  93. Benny Gesserit says:

    Since the guard refused to hand over a copy of the paperwork, I gotta wonder whether he and his cohort split the $$ and destroyed the paperwork.

    The OP should go back to the manager and ask (nicely) for a copy of the paperwork. If it’s not found, there might be a couple of rent-a-cops looking for their next victims.

  94. Doug504 says:

    I worked in retail for several years. What you did is exactly what shoplifters do.

    Shoplifters open boxes. You opened the box.

    Shoplifters put items in the box that they want to steal. You tossed an item into the open box.

    Shoplifters leave without paying for all items. You left without paying for all items.

    When caught, shoplifters offer to pay for the item. When caught, you offered to pay for the item.

    Your actions – and the result – were identical to those of a shoplifter. In most states walking out of a store without paying for an item is a crime.

    In the future I suggest that you ask an employee (or Customer Service) to open the box and to repackage the contents.

  95. rambler59 says:

    A similar thing happened to me at Walgreens. However, I was not cowered and told them to go ahead and call the police, (they didn’t) and I also refused to make out a statement. I left their store and have never shopped at Walgreens again.
    The lady should have let them call the police. In fact she should have insisted on it. These $7.00 an hour thugs should be stopped.

  96. joethedumber says:

    Authors of this story:

    PLEASE follow up on what happens here!
    Will Mennards investigate and try to fix their personnel problem?
    OR will Mennards try to threaten this website to take down the article?

    Please follow up with any contacts from Mennards on this!

  97. valis1949 says:

    I think I would have contacted a lawyer. I am sure that if you threatened a lawsuit, you would get some sort of reaction from the corporate office. It’s unfortunate, but if you don’t do something, they will try it again. And, I would bet the farm, that you are not the first to fall victim to this outrage.

  98. dancing_bear says:

    @wiguy45: Well, I had no idea. I kept reading this thing, thinking what a prick… I have been very loyal to Menards, but that party is over.

  99. AussieJohnAct says:

    TRACEY ANNE GANZERLA (nee Payne from Junee) (thief)
    in company with
    LESLIE CHARLES GILROY (corrupt cop) (thief)
    BELINDA JANE GANZERLA (nee Keuning) (thief)
    and others, robbed my wife and I
    See the whole story here