Mom Banned From Whole Foods For Inadvertent Shoplifting

A woman in Chicago who purchased $40 in groceries at Whole Foods but was later snagged by security with a purloined bottle of kids vitamins in her bag is now persona non grata at the overpriced grocery chain.

According to the banned shopper, she had just wrapped up a bit of food shopping with her two kids at her local Whole Foods when she remembered that she had forgotten to get some chewable vitamins. And amid all the distraction — kid needing to pee, husband texting her, etc — she says she didn’t realize she’d put the vitamins in her bag until after security flagged her down in the parking lot.

When confronted, she expressed her embarrassment and offered to pay, but the guard escorted her inside where a manager photographed her and officially exiled her from Whole Foods forever.

Displeased with being labeled a shoplifter, the woman escalated her complaint to Whole Foods management. She received a response from that store’s team leader, in which he defended both the store’s policy and the actions of the guard.

And though he told her he would reinstate her, allowing her to shop at Whole Foods once again, he did bring up a good question: “Would you want me in your home if you found me leaving your home with property of yours?”

Things then went from bad to strange for the woman, who subsequently received a demand from a collection agency for $250 on behalf of Whole Foods. A rep for the grocery chain now says that was a mistake and the woman is not expected to pay.

It’s all left her with a bad taste in her mouth:

Protocol or no protocol, Whole Foods projects an environment of community and friendliness, and it’s not real… They didn’t leave the slightest margin for human error. I’m just a frazzled mom.

Where do you come down on Whole Foods’ zero-tolerance policy? Should they have just let her pay for the vitamins since she’d already purchased $40 worth of groceries? Or is it better that they show their policy will be enforced regardless of the situation?

Whole Foods Versus Shoplifters: The Conundrum []

Thanks to Gene for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. backinpgh says:

    She should just take her business Trader Joe’s, which is way less douchey anyway.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      Hear hear. Unfortunately, I don’t think TJ’s has nearly the market penetration WF does.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        She’s in Chicago, there are a decent amount of Trader Joe’s around the downtown area and suburbs.

      • Genocidicbunny says:

        If TJ’s spread it’s stores out more then it would have a better market penetration. ~350 stores vs ~280 for WF.

        Plus we’re not douches and understand that things happen.

        • JonStewartMill says:

          True. We have two TJ’s within a 20-minute drive of me; there may be entire states that don’t have any. Poor souls.

          • calico says:

            We don’t have any TJ’s in Florida :(

            I recently moved here from just outside of Seattle where I walked to TJs for my groceries every week. It’s a sad life now.

    • Nisun says:

      I would just shop somewhere else….

    • one swell foop says:

      Yeah, and they have delicious salmonella. Fruit from mexico! All prepackaged!

      • Genocidicbunny says:

        You do realize that TJ’s and WF have a lot of the same suppliers? Plus TJ’s cant really control whether or not produce will be tainted — thats up to the supplier. What they can do (and in fact, is exactly what they do) is immediately take the products off the shelf and offer refunds to anyone that may have purchased tainted produce.

        • operator207 says:

          You make is sound like they go above and beyond. They don’t. They do what the law is required, or what is in the best interest of themselves. Kroger’s does the same thing, along with all other food stores that get a report that their suppliers are sending them tainted foods. They take them off the shelf so they don’t get sued. Not because it *might* make you sick. Do not be so naive.

    • Kaiser-Machead says:

      What’s so douchey about Whole Foods anyway? I’ve been shopping there or a number of years, and have never had any problems with any of the staff ever (this is in NYC btw)

      • nimoto says:

        I can explain. It’s douchey because if you shop there you clearly don’t really care about your money. You care more about image, and “feelings” than empirical evidence. I’m sure the placebo effect works on you like gang-busters, which is awesome, but if you want the freshest produce, for the best price, you shouldn’t come within a few miles of a WF.

        I mean, organic potatoes? For 2.49/lb? WTF? You peel them before you eat them! If a little more care was taken, you could get them for 29c, or 39c/lb. Same goes for corn in the husk, watermelon, etc.

        It’s fine if you shop at WF, it’s a big country and people do much MUCH more inane things, but I’m explaining the douche perception.

      • Chaosium says:

        “What’s so douchey about Whole Foods anyway?”

        The corporate management is extremely right-wing douchey.

        • sonneillon says:

          I’m someone who has dealt with their corporate side first hand and I can say they are one of the most cumbersome bureaucratic machines I have ever dealt with.

        • BDSanta2001 says:

          Srly, go search all Whole Foods articles ON THIS WEBSITE for more information on their doucheology.

        • Sleepingbear says:

          Please name any other grocery chain whose corporate structure is not steep in right-wing douchiness.

          Also Trader Joe’s is not as groovy as you think they are. Their supply chain is complete opaque, and since they are a privately held company there is no way to force them to divulge supplier information. TJ’s is owned by a German family, while WF’s is publicly owned and based in the US.

        • Sleepingbear says:

          Please name any other grocery chain whose corporate structure is not steeped in right-wing douchiness.

          Also Trader Joe’s is not as groovy as you think they are. Their supply chain is complete opaque, and since they are a privately held company there is no way to force them to divulge supplier information. TJ’s is owned by a German family, while WF’s is publicly owned and based in the US.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Maybe it’s different depending on where you live, but it feels really weird getting corn on the cob, shrinkwrapped and packaged in styrofoam, shipped from California, grown from Mexico, when I live in Wisconsin.

      But yeah, they totally have veggie chips.

    • GTI2.0 says:

      ah, yes, Trader Joes – grocery shopping for people who want to think they know how to cook but can’t.

    • flipnut says:

      time to start shopping at Trader Aldi like the criminal she is.

    • FlashFlashCarCrash says:

      what ever. whole foods does a lot for their employees, communities, and customers. don’t be stupid.

  2. citking says:

    I’d tell her not to go to Whole Foods anymore. Besides, isn’t $40 of groceries there basically a head of rotten (I mean, organic) lettuce, a package of kosher hot dogs, and 6 whole wheat buns?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      You’re right, except they’re tofu-dogs.

    • crtjer says:

      Actually for $40 at Whole Food in MA you can get, a pound of ground pork, 4 chicken breasts, bundle of asparagus, 3 muffins, liter of skim milk, block queso fresco, 3 lemons, 2 lb bag of carrots, and a package of mushrooms. Don’t shop at Whole Foods for packaged stuff just produce and meat.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        Where I am the produce is the weakest point of the Whole Foods. I get my finicky items like almond milk that I can’t find anywhere else and go to the sketchy Giant down the street for fruit and vegetables because they tend to be way more delicious there.

      • unpolloloco says:

        Or you can shop at any other grocery store and get everything for under $25….
        $3 – a pound of ground pork,
        $4 – 4 chicken breasts,
        $2 – bundle of asparagus,
        $2 – 3 muffins,
        $1.5 – liter of skim milk,
        $5 – block queso fresco,
        $2 – 3 lemons,
        $3 – 2 lb bag of carrots,
        $2 – a package of mushrooms.

        • Charmander says:

          I would never buy meat or milk that wasn’t organic. Fruits and vegetables, maybe. I don’t choose the cheapest food around – I try to select what is best for me and my family.

          I work with a lady who bought a bunch of meat from someone in a car – I’m sure it was super cheap.

          Cheap is not always best.

          • The Marionette says:

            That meat they sell in a car is actually quite good. The problem is, it (like grocery stores) varies from person to person. There was a guy who sold my girlfriend and I some and he had a nice looking truck he had it in along with a good freezer, they were good cuts and you get plenty for $90. This other guy charged for almost he same price (about $10 maybe) and he had a rust bucket for a car. Pretty much “shop around” with those types.

          • watchwhathappens says:

            Cheap is not always best.>>

            Neither is organic. This idea that everything organic is somehow better is a farce.

            • Charmander says:

              I agree with you. Organic is not always best……with two big exceptions: milk and meat.

              • Bohemian says:

                Meat and milk don’t have to be organic to be better, but it can be an indicator in some situations. We buy beef in bulk (go in on a cow with some other families). The cattle are range raised and grass fed. They will sometimes finish them by feeding them corn the last few weeks, sometimes not. The last one we got they didn’t need to finish it. We had it butchered by a small local butcher that employs maybe 4 people. So this avoids much of the ugly side of meat production, huge crowded feed lots, overdependence on drugs, feeding them corn leftovers that leads to ecoli and the big mass produced slaughter facilities where cross contamination is a problem.

                We stopped buying organic milk because the local producer kept having problems. We buy from a small regional dairy that uses no hormones or antibiotics. Since that is my biggest issue with most mainstream milk production the non-organic but ethically produced was a better option.

          • SnoopyFish says:

            You should watch Pan and Teller’s ‘Bullshit’ episode on Organic foods. Because, in fact, most foods labeled Organic, is total bullshit.

          • qualia says:

            Weird, I’m the opposite. See, animals contaminate ground water no matter how organic they are. Organic veggies don’t contaminate ground water nearly as much, which also improves quality of local meat etc.

            I don’t eat enough meat to be uber picky. I go for humane (grass fed; free range) before organic.

          • cecilsaxon says:

            CAR MEAT FTW

      • Alter_ego says:

        Thats what I do, but it makes me look like such a fatass at the regular grocery store, since all I’m buying then is carbs and cheese.

    • Kaiser-Machead says:

      Maybe the Whole Foods near you, but the three we have here in NYC are pretty good on produce. I work near the one just a block away from the WTC site, and their produce is very good.

  3. Nick says:

    If I were Whole Foods, I’d probably stick with the policy, but would “reinstate” someone who consistently asked for forgiveness after the a certain amount of time. I’d imagine most shoplifters wouldn’t do anything about it and would stay away from the store. But if someone is persistent about being allowed back in, I would give them another shot. (Mostly because I’d be more willing to believe it was a one-time incident, and also that the person really wants to shop/spend money at the store.)

    • DanRydell says:

      Yeah, I don’t blame them for enforcing the policy. Why should they believe her when she says she just forgot she put them in her purse? That sounds like something a shoplifter would say when they’re caught… of course it’s also something an innocent person would say, but how are they supposed to know?

      Here’s the thing – in all of my life, I’ve never accidentally shoplifted. It’s pretty simple – just don’t stick stuff in your purse or pockets if you haven’t paid for it! The fact that she accidentally shoplifted a small, expensive item – the best kind of item to shoplift – doesn’t help her case.

      No, Whole Foods is not being unreasonable at all. She is being unreasonable for taking offense at their actions.

      • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

        I have, without ONCE sticking an item into my bag. I’m not going to explain how it happens because I don’t want to be an enabler.

        Who the hell sticks random stuff in her purse, anyway? I can’t vaguely imagine doing so if I had a cart or basket, which makes it hard to sympathize with the banned lady. The WF rep is right — whether she means to be a thief or not, everyone she knows needs to watch their silver.

        • Charmander says:

          Sorry – I completely amend what I’ve just written. The woman didn’t put anything in her PURSE – as Chris Morran, the editor who posted this story has written – according to the article, she put it in her BAG, presumably the bag she was carrying around with the $40 of purchased merchandise.

          And I can definitely see how that can happen. I think she DID make an honest mistake.

          But the point is, there are hundreds of comments right now discussing whether or not she intended to put the item in her purse, walking out with the item in her purse, concealing the item in her purse, etc.


          Blame to Mr. Chris Morran for misleading us.

          • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

            WHOOPS. Yeah, that makes SO much more sense. Thanks for Reading TFA and setting slackers like me straight!

          • DanRydell says:

            Putting it in her bag is a bit more believable. Perhaps I’m overly careful, but when I realize I forgot to buy something I take my bags out to the car, then go back in and make the second purchase. Or if I have cold stuff and it’s hot out, I’ll just get it the next time I’m at the store. I’d never take my bags back into the section of the store that has products – I always try to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. That works for me. I’m not saying this woman did anything wrong if this was an accident, but it pays to be cautious.

      • Charmander says:

        Yes, that’s the thing that got me…the vitamins were placed INSIDE her purse. If I were accidentally shoplifting, I’d be absentmindedly walking out of the store holding the item in my hand, forgetting it was there.

        To place it in one’s purse takes thought. Even if your kid has to go to the bathroom, you simply place the item in a basket, put it somewhere by the bathroom, and then on your way out, pick up the basket and go to the checkout.

        I’m not saying her shoplifting wasn’t accidental – I’m just not understanding why she put it in her purse without paying for it. Just seems kind of weird to me.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        I have ended up outside stores with unpaid merchandise twice, having left with the items in plain sight. The first was at SAMs club and my wife had several towels she had earlier been thinking about buying but forgot. She is in a wheelchair and they were neatly folded in her lap. We promptly rentered the store and put them back, but the receipt checker was clearly ineffective.

        Second time I was holding pantyhose at Macy’s or my wife when she asked me to get something from the car.

        I felt bad both times, rectified the situation, and didn’t get caught

      • JamieSueAustin says:

        I have. Several times. I’ve had to go back to the store to pay for candy bars, seed packets, dental floss, and other little things. Stupid stuff that gets hidden behind bars in the cart, or shoved in my purse because I suddenly need two hands to wrangle the kiddo. I’m a frazzled mess when I grocery shop. Seriously, they should have a counter handing out Valium for people like me. When it happens I walk up to the nearest counter, tell them I suck at life, and ask them to ring it up. Usually, they are surprised I came back. I’ve never had anyone accuse me of purposely shoplifting or be mean to me.

  4. techstar25 says:

    Actually she got off easy. She was a mom with kids in tow so they went easy on her. If she had a been an African American or Latino teenager, she would have spent the night in jail and kids would be put into child services. I know that’s a terrible thing to say, but it’s true.

    • Putts says:


    • AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

      No need to bring race into it. You’d get that result as a teenager of any color.

    • EnergyStarr says:

      that’s really enlightened

    • shadowhh says:

      NO, you are not correct sir. If she had Been african American or latino the Race baters would of gotten down there already and she would be suing them for profiling her. Why else would they stop her. (the camera means nothing)

    • AgitatedDot says:

      Being white I see nothing wrong with racial profiling. In fact I’m all for it.

    • jerry101 says:

      since this is chicago, this is certainly true. Chicago cops are the biggest, most racist sh*tbags on earth. I know a number of them. They do everything shy of showing up at the rally in a white sheet with a big, gasoline soaked cross.

  5. hypochondriac says:

    I’m glad they enforced their policy. It was most likely a mistake, but they couldn’t have know that.

    Remember the case about a year back the guy was stole $10 worth of soda after buying close to $100 worth of stuff? Sometimes when people steal it makes no sense

    • tonberryqueen says:

      A lot of people steal for the thrill.

      I used to catch grown men in expensive business suits trying to steal comic books and sports cards when I worked in retail–their lives were dull and they wanted some excitement. I made sure that they left nice and embarrassed.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i think my sister dated that guy… for a couple of weeks until she found out that he did that.
        she dated a TWC supervisor who bragged about getting away with shoplifting for the fun of it. worst part i think was that he stole toys for his kids. not because he was poor but because he didn’t see anything wrong with stealing to feed his thrill addiction and then giving the evidence away

      • Extended-Warranty says:

        How many times did that happen?

    • MrBeetle says:

      I don’t think it’s a mistake… Vitamins are what I call money-dense…. High cost, small size. It’s no accident that they ended up in her purse…

      • common_sense84 says:

        This is most likely true. Where was she holding the other items. If it was a cart or a basket, why did the pills not end up in the same place?

        Unless she can explain why she used her purse to hold them, she probably did shop life them on purpose.

        • Entchen says:

          I wonder if she had her purse open to answer her phone (husband sending a message), and maybe the vitamins went into the purse instead of the phone being put back in. I’ve done something similar (although, thankfully, I figured it out pretty quickly).

      • Sneeje says:

        You’re right, not an accident. She put them there deliberately for a moment while juggling kids and too many distractions. The accident was forgetting to take them back out and pay for them.

        Ever heard, “Be a f—ing person!”? People are human, they make mistakes and it sure would be nice if we could all be given the benefit of the doubt once in a while. Let’s hope you never make a mistake with a disproportionately severe consequence…

        • RvLeshrac says:

          The problem is that if they let HER off, they have to let EVERY shoplifter off, or else they’re going to wind up with a large number of discrimination lawsuits. They were rather nice in that they didn’t immediately call the police.

        • MrBeetle says:

          She had a cart, which every other item made it into.

          What’s easier – tossing it into the cart, or into the purse? Last I checked, the cart is bigger.

          And, enough with the “Frazzled mom” bit. Can I pull that one too?

          1) I have a 2 year old who loves to explore
          2) Said 2 year old has spent more time in the hosptal for heart issues than most people do in their lifetime. (total insurance bill passed $1M about 6 months ago)
          3) I’m unemployed, looking at my U/I benefits running out in 2 months (if the extension is not passed)

          Needless to say, I am often a “frazzled” dad. Yet I have the common courtesy to not attempt to steal stuff. (I did it accedently once when I was about 6 – a pack of rocket-shaped suckers. Told my mom and we went back and paid for them)

          • billin says:

            I had the exact same thought. I’ve brought personal bags (laptop bag, backpack, shoulder bags, etc.) with me into grocery stores when shopping, and never, ever have even thought about putting unpaid merchandise into those bags. Why would you ever do such a thing if you have a cart, even if you’re “frazzled”? At the very least, it’s awkward when you get up to the register and then reach into your personal belongings to pull out the item to pay for it. Whether or not this woman is actually a shoplifter, I think she should cut her losses and stop making such a fuss. She doesn’t come out looking great in this scenario.

        • dbeahn says:

          So she finished he shopping, then went back to get the vitamins, put them in her purse and both forgot they were there AND forgot that she’d gone back in the store after finishing her shopping to get another item AND forgot that when you go back to get another item you have to go through the check out again?

          • ramzafl says:

            They were never in her purse if you RTFA. Stolen from another comment:

            “The woman didn’t put anything in her PURSE – as Chris Morran, the editor who posted this story has written – according to the article, she put it in her BAG, presumably the bag she was carrying around with the $40 of purchased merchandise.”

    • cosby says:

      A lot of shoplifters will buy some items to help them steal others. Saw it a lot in retail as well as when I was a manager at a gas station with a c-store. People would try to steal the single reese’s peanut butter cups in the wrappers for instance.

      With this woman complaining she chanes are made a mistake. Still don’t see anything wrong though. While Foods showed a great deal of restraint. They caught her red handed. Could have had her dragged out in cuffs.

  6. Dragon Tiger says:

    Maybe it’s because I don’t own one, but I really don’t understand how something ends up in your purse, as opposed to the cart/basket.

    • aloria says:

      I have a purse, and I don’t understand this. I’d never put anything unpaid for in my purse for precisely this reason– might inadvertently shoplift it.

    • MuffinSangria says:

      I have a purse and that part confused me. Who puts unpaid merchandise in their purse or pocket, ever?

      • qwickone says:

        I have actually done this. It was only once and I immediately realized and pulled it back out of my purse and put it in my cart. I don’t have kids or anything, I was just distracted by my own thoughts. I guess if it’s small and in my hand, the next place it usually ends up is in my purse.

      • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

        Just because you can’t imagine it happening to you, doesn’t mean it can’t happen by accident.

        1) Maybe she was tired, and not thinking clearly. A simple distraction, and you absentmindedly put it in your purse.

        2) Maybe she was ADD, and with the multiple distractions, just put it in her purse without even thinking.

        3) There are probably many more scenarios than I can think of, but to say “How could this possibly be an accident” or something like that, is not taking all possibilities into account.

        Sure, maybe she was just a habitual shoplifter who happened to get caught this time, that is a possibility too, and I can’t dismiss it, but there are so may other possibilities too.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’ve never done that with my purse, but the last time I was at the grocery store, my car was piled full of stuff because I was making one of our big shopping trips. After I checked out, I rolled my cart to the car and after putting all my bags inside, I found a small jar of spices that had rolled to the very back of the cart. I checked my receipt because I didn’t remember putting it on the belt and it hadn’t been charged. I wasn’t sure what to do and I really didn’t want to be accused of shoplifting if I took it back in. The cashier who put the bags inside my cart didn’t see it and neither did I. I ended up leaving it in the cart because when it comes to convincing people you’re not a liar, you never know if it’s going to be an uphill battle.

      • FigNinja says:

        I doubt they’d accuse you of shoplifting if you brought it back in and told them you realized you hadn’t paid for it. I’ve done that a couple of times and they’ve just been glad I was honest.

      • FangDoc says:

        I’ve had that happen, too. Had my purse in the child seat and when I got out to my car, there was $15 worth of sliced deli meat and cheese under my purse that had never been rung up. I took it back in and paid for it, but then again I live in a small city and go to the same grocery store all the time; the cashiers know me by sight if not by name, and I wasn’t particularly worried that I’d be labeled a thief for it. On the other hand, I wonder if anyone at the store now thinks to check there?

      • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

        I’ve never had a problem bringing something back into the store to pay for it.

    • tchann says:

      If you’re constantly getting things in and out of your purse – your wallet, your cell phone, your keys, your coupon book – and then something distracts you – which children are incredibly good at doing – I can completely see how someone would forget that what is in their hand isn’t theirs and slips it in there instinctively. It’s almost a form of muscle memory, I think.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        But if your only reason for going back was the vitamins, why would you walk out without them?

        • Humward says:

          Yeah, that’s what I don’t get. You walk all the way back to the vitamin aisle, put the vitamins in your purse, walk out of the store…it’s not like they got lost in the shuffle of the other items she was buying — she went back specifically for them, and then didn’t pay for them. Why not? Maybe she left the store without paying because she remembered paying for the other items and in a frazzled state got confused — i.e. “I’ve paid, so I can leave now.” But you have to wonder how she walked by the cash registers and didn’t think “oh, I’ve got to do something related to those — why am I back here again when I’ve already paid?”

          So you add it up, and she’s got to do two things that don’t really make sense — put the vitamins in her purse, and walk out the door (by the cash registers) without paying for anything. Still I…will give her the benefit of the doubt. Shit happens, people do things that look incredibly stupid in hindsight, and we’re all just misfiring neurons in a world far more complicated than our brains were designed for. So, ok, she didn’t mean to do it.

          But I also can’t fault Whole Foods over this. It’s not the “zero tolerance” policy that’s at issue…it’s not like she was clearly not shoplifting. It’s excusable, and I believe her when she says she didn’t mean to, but…yeah, it sounds pretty suspicious.

          • Jevia says:

            Easy. First off , she wasn’t carrying a purse, which the summary here misstates.

            If you read the article, she was running late to pick up her husband, so as she grabbed the vitamins (still carrying the cloth bag with groceries), she’s texting her husband that she’s running late. One child then says he has to use the bathroom, so she negotiates both toddlers, a cell phone, a wallet, a grocery bag, 3 coats (this was back in April), and keys through the bathroom. More than likely, she had to put things down and pick them all back up again and apparently during this time, she inadvertently put the vitamins IN THE CLOTH BAG WITH THE OTHER GROCERIES.

            Clearly after all the activity with the bathroom break for the 4 year old, plus having to deal with the other child (who’s age is unknown), and carrying a bunch of stuff, its easy to forget that you didn’t pay for the one last thing and just grab your stuff and go. Especially when she’s already running late to get her husband too. Very easy mistake to make and I think Whole Foods is being a bit unreasonable here.

            • Charmander says:

              The lesson here is to always, always read the article. (I try to do this, didn’t this time). This is not the first time that one of the editors has posted a story, concealing or misleading us with information or events that DID NOT HAPPEN.

              There was not purse involved in the orginal story. The article said she accidentally put the items in her bag, presumably her cloth bag with the $40 of groceries she had just purchased.

              And I can definitely see how that could happen.

              • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                I did read the article, and for some reason, my mind didn’t make a correlation between her reusable cloth bag and the bag she put the vitamins in, mostly because sometimes I refer to my purse as “my bag.”

            • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

              There is a reason many stores have a sign saying not to bring unpaid merchandise into the bathrooms. If you have to go into the bathroom, you put the item on a shelf/in your cart parked outside, do your “business”, then retrieve it on the way out.

              I agree with many commenters on the articles site who wonder if she hit someone with her car while texting and being frazzled, should she be exonerated of any responsibility?

            • Humward says:

              Interesting — though she still walked by the cash registers and didn’t say “hmm, why am I back here again?” It’s a “very easy mistake to make,” sure — I’ll accept that. I’ll grant that she wasn’t shoplifting, even if she appeared to be.

              But she’s saying that when Whole Foods mistook her for a shoplifter (for very understandable reasons), they were being unreasonable. I can’t get on board with that. If she were here saying “no harm, no foul,” I’d understand — but Whole Foods is the one saying that. They agreed to not press charges, to let her come back, and ended up being pretty nice about it. (Yes, they then mistakenly sent her a bill — but they said that it was a mistake and corrected it. Maybe the administrative person who sent her that was “frazzled” that day.)

              Nonetheless, because they made some administrative error in the process and weren’t IMMEDIATELY understanding of her “situation,” she’s here with a dose of righteous indignation. I don’t get that — I kind of think it takes a lot of chutzpah to walk out of a store with an item you didn’t pay for (mistakenly or not) and then complain that the store didn’t offer you perfect customer service while investigating you for shoplifting. Her mistake was honest? Ok — I’ll buy it. But any mistake the store made was equally honest.

    • backinpgh says:

      I imagine maybe her purse was in her buggy, she threw the bottle in the buggy, and it fell into her purse and she didn’t realize it.

      • Commenter24 says:

        Buggy. Damn Brits. :)

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Southerners say buggy, too. It bugs me.

          • drizzt380 says:

            You must have heard it in a different part of the South than I live in. I’ve never heard someone call it a buggy. I’ve heard Cart. Shopping Cart. Basket maybe. But never a ‘buggy’. In fact, buggy sounds straight out weird.

            Or maybe I just surround myself with people who don’t use odd names.

          • JulesNoctambule says:

            We say ‘cart’ in my part of the South.

        • JRules says:

          Its called a Trolley in England, its called a Buggy in the South.

        • pot_roast says:

          I hear “buggy” in the South all the time.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        But wouldn’t she have seen the bottle of vitamins in her purse when she went to pay? Or noticed that despite her remembering to grab them, they didn’t make it onto the conveyor belt to be bagged?

        • erratapage says:

          She went back after she paid for her groceries to get the vitamins that she forgot. In the chaos of having two children, a bag of groceries, and whatever else was going on, she put the vitamins in her purse so she could deal with whatever was going on.

          She then forgot the pills in her purse and walked out without paying. That’s how it happened.

    • ellemdee says:

      The only thing even close to that I can think of is a time when I had my purse open in the cart and I accidentally set something I was buying on top of my purse. I noticed it later and didn’t close my purse up with the item inside, but I guiess it could happen if she had one of those big purses that doesn’t zip and is open at the top.

      Force of habit to reach her hand in her purse while distracted and holding the vitamins? I don’t know…could happen I guess. Maybe.

    • Sillyheart says:

      I’m not a frazzled mom and I’ve almost put stuff in my purse or pocket more than once, even where I used to work where “I’m sorry, I was distracted” would’ve cost me my job. Some of us are just a little spacier than the rest and usually I catch myself “that’s definitely not my phone” but I can easily see how kids could cause you to skip that last check.

      • JamieSueAustin says:

        You know, I think that’s the key to understanding this story. Some of us are a litter spacier than others. For those who are firmly grounded the idea of accidentally doing anything doesn’t make any sense. I couldn’t find my ass with both hands but my guy is the complete opposite. It took him five years to finally come to terms with the fact that there was no motive behind my forgetfulness.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      I know what it’s like shopping alone with a toddler sometimes, so I understand getting distracted.

      That said, at a gut level I’m not buying her story. And apparently neither is the management. It sounds a little too much like “I’m just holding this bag of weed for a friend, dad.”

      I’m not saying she couldn’t be telling the truth. It just seems unlikely to me. Either way, she’ll survive not shopping at Whole Foods.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        I think the fishiest part of the story for me is that she’s a mom who shops at Whole Foods and she wasn’t wearing one of those douchebag toddler backpack things.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          Douche bag toddler backpacks are way better than douche bag giant strollers that take up the whole aisle. Much more convenient too.

    • jessjj347 says:

      I can imagine her having many things to carry and not having a basket since she walked back in just for that item. E.g. she may have been holding her two kids hands or a bag or something.

      I’ve wanted to put something in my pocket before, because technically it’s not stealing until you leave the store, but I didn’t want an employee to think that I had intentions of stealing so I never have actually done it.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        That’s not true. Shoplifting in MANY states/jurisdiction is defined by “intent”. They sometimes wait until you leave the store/pass the registers to make their case as solid as they can, but I have witnessed someone get busted when they went into the bathroom to hide the stuff on themselves. Read the laws, and you will see the words intent clearly written so that if something truly IS an accident, you won’t be busted.

        • DH405 says:

          In some states, such as my home state of Oklahoma, it is a crime to place an item in your pocket or bag prior to purchase. It’s called “concealment” here.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            Even changing a price tag is shoplifting, because you are attempting to defraud the merchant of his property/money.

            • wrjohnston91283 says:

              The grocery store I used to work at busted old ladies doing this on occasion. The manager would simply tell them they can’t do that, they’d get apologetic and that would be it. The store was very afraid that they’d kick someone out for stealing and it would end up on the news.

              Much cheaper to let someone steal $5 every so often than to lose thousands when people think you go after old ladies for fun.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Well, if you’re not the one holding the basket or cart (like me – my boyfriend pushes the cart), it’s easy. I’m so used to putting everything into my purse (actually I use a messenger bag), that if I’m holding something common such as a soda, bottle of aspirin, sunglasses, etc., I don’t pay attention and just put it in my bag just like if I were outside or at someone’s house.

      It happens. I’ve done it quite a few times. usually when i go to get my wallet at the register – I realize what I’ve done and I’ll make some joke about it to the cashier and that’s that.

    • rdclark says:

      If I’m the store, do I really care if a customer habitually steals or if a customer is habitually putting things in her purse by mistake? Is there a way to tell the difference?

      No, and no. I don’t want her in the store either way.

      But the subsequent demand for $250 is strange.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I’ve done this — with vitamins, actually. I was juggling the cart and a fussy baby who was demanding to be held, getting some sick-people supplies for my ill husband and remembered I was out of prenatals. I had to stoop to get them, the baby didn’t like that, I dropped my sunglasses off the top of my head (stupid place to leave them) and in the scramble to get everything back to its upright position, I dropped the vitamins in my purse with my sunglasses. And my purse is currently pretty big since I try not to carry a separate diaper bag for short trips.

      At checkout I was looking going, “I feel like I came here to get six things, not five …. OH! VITAMINS! IN MY PURSE!”

      I was embarrassed, but luckily it was no big deal. I could have just as easily shrugged and said, “Oh well, I guess it was just five things” and not figured it out until I got home.

  7. toolverine says:

    I can’t really relate to the story on a personal level. I’ve never been so distracted that I’ve slipped something I hadn’t purchased into a jacket pocket or anything like that. I think I would have sooner set it on the shelf were I distracted.

  8. Commenter24 says:

    Frazzled or not, an adult should know that you don’t do that kind of thing. I don’t think that Whole Foods was even remotely wrong in banning her for life, mistake or not. How is it supposed to know if it was really inadvertent or if she just got caught? She made a mistake, intentional or not, and I have no problem with her suffering consequences for it. She’s lucky the manager didn’t call the cops.

    • pjorg says:

      I think the issue here is that everybody makes mistakes, and that it’s probably not a good idea to alienate people that are willing to come in and spend money at your store if the situation suggests that it was an honest mistake. She wanted to pay for it.

      That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t keep an eye on her in the future.

      Nevertheless, they’re certainly within their rights to ban her.

      • Commenter24 says:

        I’m not sure I agree that the situation suggests a mistake. She put them IN HER PURSE. People, even frazzled, know not to do that. I don’t think it’s even remotely clear that this was actually a mistake. It’s not clear the other way, either, but I think the fact it’s totally open to question is sufficient justification to tell her to shop elsewhere. Who wants a customer who actually took something without paying, and you can’t be sure it was an accident?

        • drizzt380 says:

          The consumerist article is misleading. She put them in her bag according to the original. I guess a purse could be called a bag but it is vague. Could also have just been the bag with other groceries.

      • Woofer says:

        If I ran a store, I wouldn’t mind alienating customers who forgetfully place merchandise in their purses.

        • says:

          So you’d ban a customer who regularly purchases $40+ of stuff weekly because of a single instance of absentmindedly putting a package of vitamins in a purse? Not very smart.

    • Peer to Peer Nachos says:

      Yeah, I think they really did give her the benefit of the doubt by not having her arrested.

      Given the choice between arrest and banning she got off easy even if it was a mistake.

    • EdnaLegume says:

      isn’t a mistake by definition, unintentional?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        A mistake is defined as an “error” – whether you unintentionally committed it or you did it and came to recognize it was an error in judgment is different.

  9. fjordtjie says:

    do people usually put things they are going to buy into their purse? because i find that suspicious. not saying she didn’t intend to pay, because it isn’t like she has any way to prove she intended to pay for them, but she also has no proof she wasn’t stealing either…other than an item in her purse.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      For that matter, I have no idea how Whole Foods even caught her. Were they watching through security video? The article doesn’t really say.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        It makes me wonder if there isn’t more to the story…i.e. she’s been suspicious before and they watched her? I don’t know what to think on this story. Having worked in retail people try to steal the craziest stuff, even while spending money at the store. On the other hand, people can get distracted or not notice a small item. Of course, most stores also have a policy that you don’t take unpaid merchandise into the bathroom so she should have left it somewhere outside the bathroom so this wouldn’t have happened.

      • qualia says:

        Probably a micro chip. They can stick those in the cap. Maybe cameras.

    • qualia says:

      It might have been one of those cloth bags. I’ll stick my shopping in the bag and then empty it at the register. It’s easier since I usually walk home and it gives me a better idea of whether I can carry it.

    • Reading Rainbow says:

      The actual article says bag – most likely referring to her shopping bag. Chris messed that up in his summary

  10. ShruggingGalt says:

    How exactly does one “forget” that they put vitamins in their purse?

    Did she put the rest of her groceries in her purse?

  11. Noah says:

    I hate it when I accidentally put stuff in my purse and get caught

    • sableenees says:

      This story gives her way too much benefit of the doubt.

      • witeowl says:

        Right. When I was younger and got caught shoplifting, the first words out of my mouth were, “I didn’t mean to!”

        I’m not saying that she did or didn’t put the vitamins into her purse on purpose; I’m just saying that I can’t blame Whole Foods for acting prudently.

    • Griking says:


      So she’s “displeased with being labeled a shoplifter”, when then don’t shoplift. Whether she legitimately forgot to pay or not, she took an item from the store, put it into her pocketbook and then left the store without paying. That’s pretty much the definition of shoplifting.

      Oh, and big surprise that she offered to pay once she was caught.

  12. bblawson says:

    I am also frequently a frazzled mom but I’ve never “inadvertently” put anything into my purse. I think it’s as Dragon Tiger and Toolverine have suggested. Sounds suspicious to me.

    • FigNinja says:

      Yep. It’s not like she forgot something that was on the bottom of the cart and walked out. People do that all the time without meaning to. The fact that it was in her purse is going to automatically raise people’s suspicions much more.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      I was with her right up until “I’m just a frazzled mom.” Does being a mom entitle you to be more forgetful than the rest of us? How about “I was just frazzled”? I really get bugged by the sense of entitlement some people think parenthood gives them. Yeah, your life is hard. Maybe someone else doesn’t have a kid, but has a more stressful job, or more family obligations (sick spouse, elderly parents, financial woes), or some kind of medical problem where pain is a distraction.

      Why does she get a pass because she’s a mom more so than anyone else who’s frazzled for some other reason?

      P.S. The world didn’t tie her down and make her have a baby, so the world doesn’t owe her any special consideration. That being said, all humans owe each other consideration.

      • Sparkstalker says:

        I think what you’re missing here is the immediateness of the distractions kids (especially infants and toddlers) can cause. A stressful job, sick relatives, or financial woes aren’t right there with you crying about needing to go potty…

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          Maybe, but chronic pain is right with you the whole time, distracting you. Maybe elderly parent is right with you. Lots of time, I’m as frazzled and distracted in a store by someone else’s kids screaming or running around. I just don’t get why “frazzled mom” trumps “frazzled person”. It’s like we’re supposed to slap our foreheads and say “Oh, she’s a Mom! And the kids had to pee! Of course she can’t be held responsible for her actions!”

      • misslisa says:

        THANK YOU! I wanted to point this out as well but then I wondered if I were being too harsh. Yes, I get tired of the whole “I’m a mom/I’m a dad/I’ve got kids” as an excuse to get out of having to act right. If somebody can’t handle thier kids in the store, don’t take them into the store.

        I’ve done stupid stuff before because I’m in chronic pain, but I don’t say, “I can’t help being frazzled, I’m in chronic pain.” I own up and say “Wow that was stupid of me, I shouldn’t have done that.”

        • mandy_Reeves says:

          me too……I’m like oh crap…and just run to the register with whatever I have and hubby gets the rest later on. I don’t shove extra junk in my pockets or bag…thankfully, some of us with different chronic pain causes, get little cues as to when the pain is going to start.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      good for you. Some of us have.

  13. Tim says:

    Well, you can’t really compare Whole Foods to the woman’s house, because Whole Foods is designed for many, many guests to come in each day. The woman’s house is designed for her family, with the occasional guest.

  14. deadandy says:

    The whole “offering to pay” thing is a red herring, really. I worked retail for many years. Shoplifters -always- offer to pay when they’ve been caught, because they think it will get them off the hook.

    However, she did something else which was uncharacteristic of a shoplifter, which is purchasing some items. That alone should have told Whole Foods loss prevention that she was acting in good faith. Some people are just scatterbrained, even more so when their kids are running amok.

    • Putts says:

      I’ve never shoplifted before, but wouldn’t stealing something while walking out with a cart full of groceries seem less suspicious than walking into a store, walking around for 30 minutes, and then walking out empty handed? Seems like a shoplifter would actually try to purchase something in order to take attention off of themselves.

      • sth9669 says:

        As a former loss prevention associate at Best Buy, I’ll tell you, the slyest shoplifters were the ones who bought stuff. The best example I have is that we had a rash of computer parts and playstation 2’s (this was in 2001 or so. . . ) go missing and we finally nabbed our culprit.

        It seems that one of our cashiers spotted a box with different looking tape and called made up some excuse to call me over and when I got there, the guy was attempting to purchase a microwave with the box taped up with brown packing tape (which we don’t ever use).

        When I asked if I could look at the item the guy tried to bolt and we cornered him, when we opened it up, he was trying to buy a $59 microwave that he had taken out of the box, shoved merchandise inside, and then he would return the microwave. Once we got him in the LP office and the cops came, he admitted he’d done this 10 or 15 times and no one had noticed, but apparently he ran out of clear tape and couldn’t find any more so he had to use the brown and hoped “no one would notice”.

        So buying something isn’t necessarily a good faith gesture, but in this case, it does seem odd to buy $40 in groceries and steal a $7 bottle of vitamins, it was more than likely just a misunderstanding, and I would’ve given her a stern warning and let her go. But that’s just me (and that’s also why I’m not in LP anymore, I couldn’t take being told to act like the gestapo by management. . . )

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        you’d think that, but shoplifters rarely want to spend any money. Irony!

      • suedehead4 says:

        I noticed someone shoplifting at a grocery store a few weeks ago (and pointed them out to security). I saw them stash some beer underneath their baby stuff on the bottom shelf of the shopping trolley. Having seen them do it, I have no doubt it was intentional, but when they were caught I’m sure they claimed it was a mistake (I didn’t stick around to hear the excuses).

    • jessjj347 says:

      I used to work at a store where shoplifters did buy things too. Actually, an elderly woman would come in with a small child and the child would have a blanket. She would pay for things and then one day someone realized she was stashing things under the blanket. Poor old lady :/

      • qualia says:

        Why “poor?” A surprising number of shoplifters at the store I worked at could MORE than afford what they were stealing. Middle aged women in escalades and pearl earrings stealing cosmetics.

        And it wasn’t the people who used the food stamp cards trying to pass fake checks, either, or trying to use a credit card number without a physical card. And THEN they’d throw tantrums and act as if we were losing business. Most of them were just upscale sociopaths.

  15. pb5000 says:

    We’ve been in the mall walking around and found a t-shirt from JC Penny in the stroller that my son put there not knowing any better. I was close enough to JC Penny where I walked back in and went to the register and just said, “sorry, my son had this in the stroller, we didn’t know and walked out with it.” They were overly appreciative and looked at it as a no harm no foul incident.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I have a pet peeve about people who let their kids take candy and small toys from stores. I have seen many a child pick up a candy bar, they hold it in their hands and leave the store with it without their parent paying for it. If I notice, surely their parent can. I usually try to say something, but I did have one lady roll her eyes at me and leave anyway.

      • Moosenogger says:

        I work in an airport, and we have shoplifters come in all the time. One incident I’ll never forget was when a huge family with about four little kids (under 10 years old) came to the store. The adults stood outside talking and whatnot, while the kids came in and milled around. After awhile I noticed they kept going to their family and coming back, so I watched them. ALL FOUR KIDS walked out with some plush dolls ($22 a pop) that still had tags on. I wasn’t 100% sure if they had carried them in with them or not, so I couldn’t really call the police. (But what kid keeps the tags on their new toys? Didn’t make sense.)

        Anyway, after that I asked another employee to help me keep an eye on them so they couldn’t take anything else. They eventually left.

        If they were stealing things, I can’t BELIEVE that their parents just let them do it. What disgusting people.

  16. Economists Do It With Models says:

    I was with Whole Foods until the demand letter, since I find it easier to believe that a frazzled mom forgot she put something in her purse (which, if I had to guess, she did because she didn’t have the cart nearby and you aren’t supposed to take products into the restroom) than a large company accidentally sent a demand letter to someone who is clearly trying to get back in the company’s good graces. Am I the only one who sees the irony in Whole Foods giving a response of “it’s fine, we just made a mistake?”

    • mommiest says:

      Well, if they can forgive her for making a mistake, can she forgive them for making one? The rep said she was not expected to pay.

      My guess is they start the demand letter automatically when a report is written, and no one thought to stop it before it was sent to her.

      I think Whole Foods acted as well as any business might in this case.

  17. Enriquez the Water Bottle says:

    Wow, The Simpsons beats the real world to the punch, yet again:

  18. hewhoroams says:

    Gotta side with whole foods on this one. For every person who actually ‘accidentally steals’ there are 9 more who are not accidentally stealing.

  19. cf27 says:

    Are we assuming that her side of the story is true? Does she have any evidence besides her word?

    In many states, putting the vitamins in her purse, even before leaving the store, would have been grounds for shoplifting. They could have called the cops on her instead of just banning her. She got off easy.

  20. sagodjur says:

    I’m glad that they stuck by their policy! Who wants people who make mistakes contributing to their grossly-inflated profit margin in the future?

    I certainly wouldn’t want to shop in a store that tolerates people being human and flawed. This is like expelling kids who bring aspirin to school – perfectly reasonable! After all, aspirin is the gateway drug to crack cocaine and accidentally shoplifting is the gateway crime to involuntary manslaughter.


  21. glennski says:

    When all else fails play the frazzled mom card.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Exactly. It’s the “I’ve got kids so I get special treatment” theory.

    • emt888 says:

      Thank you! I had a lot more sympathy for her until I read that line. It’s like if you’re a parent, you shouldn’t be responsible for your actions if you have your kid with you.

      There have been times when I’ve been up for days straight between writing papers for school and working. I wonder if I would get the same amount of sympathy if I said I stole something because “I’m a frazzled student.”

      FYI, ‘forgetting to pay for something’ is, in fact, shoplifting.

    • JamieSueAustin says:

      Your mom probably did.

      Kids make you crazy. She was stating a reality. It’s not “playing a card” it’s just a statement of fact in her life. I hate it when people get all up in arms because someone mentions having kids. When you have kids they become an inseparable part of your identity. For some women, “Mom” is all that is left of their persona, since that’s what their world revolves on. Not every women with kids is like that, but some are. No need to be nasty about it.

  22. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t think Whole Foods was wrong here, how do we know she wasn’t shoplifting and was just trying to get out of it? I would expect most stores would react the same to someone sticking an item in their purse. Is it really that important to text your husband back right on the spot (he couldn’t wait 5-10 min until you cashed out or finished your shopping)? I could understand if she left the vitamins in the bathroom while taking her kid to pee but not slipping them into her purse. I don’t know anyone who would slip an item into their purse like this, it wouldn’t be that hard to just simply throw it in the cart or leave it on the shelf.

    Whole Foods and most other retailers probably see this thing ALL the time. A lot of shoplifters will use the distracted or my kids needed this and that excuses like she did. Shoplifters can and will use their kids as an excuse or even involve them in the process. If they let every person who said they were frazzled and distracted because of their kids go who shoplifted then no one would take shoplifting seriously at all and everyone would be doing it. The more shoplifting that goes on the higher the prices go for us honest consumers who do not shoplift.

    I have no idea if this person was really intentionally shoplifting or if it was just a mistake but you are gonna be hard pressed to find a retail store that does not take shoplifting seriously regardless if it was a mistake or not.

  23. backinpgh says:

    I always wonder what being “banned” from a store entails. I mean, does anyone actually watch out for you? Couldn’t she just go to another Whole Foods store and shop there? Do the employees ever really pay attention to who is shopping there?

    • sth9669 says:

      well, I don’t know about the whole foods in this story, but at Best Buy, when I worked there, it wasn’t being banned, it was being served with a “Trespass Notice”. This basically involved having them fill out paper work and having their picture taken, so that if they were noticed in the store again (or caught shoplifting, which is hard as hell to prove) they could be charged with Trespassing because they signed a statement in which they were aware that they were not allowed in the store.

      So basically, the first time someone is caught, unless they were stealing thousands of dollars worth of merch or we had an airtight case on them, they got trespassed and if they came in and/or stole again, we could get the cops to nail them for trespassing and that’s an open and shut case.

      I’ve even had some shoppers come in with friends, and their group of friends will go on and shop and they’ll hang out by the LP stand and say “hey man, I was trespassed like 2 years ago, so I’m just going to hang out up front with you, is that okay?” It’s really effective, and it basically makes it so you kind of get a free strike against you, but then have a harsh penalty for a second offense. . .

    • watchwhathappens says:

      A friend and her boyfriend were banned from a restaurant. They went back once with no incident, then again and were asked to leave and told they would not be served.

  24. jibo says:

    Man, I gotta get some kids so I can just grab stuff and walk out of stores.

    Whups! You caught me! I’m just a crazy frazzled dad, you know how it goes, see you next time.

    Whether or not she meant to steal it, it was her stupid mistake and it shouldn’t fall on Whole Foods to determine her intentions. In other words, whether or not you did it on purpose, you gotta own up to your actions and accept the consequences (within reason).

  25. Andy says:

    They could drop some of those insane prices if they cut back on their security.

    Doesn’t seem to be much point in treating all your customers like criminals. Guilty until beaten.

  26. Scuba Steve says:

    Zero tolerance policies aren’t really good in general, but its hard to determine when someone “Just forgot something” and someone has sticky fingers due to a compulsion or need.

    It’s a tough position to be in for these stores. I would say that the store should have handled it better, especially for the followup, but I don’t believe the actions of taking her to the backroom for it was out of line for the store.

    I would have taken the picture, asked her to pay, and stressed the fact that
    1. Purses are not good places to put groceries, especially medicines or vitamins or other small items.
    2. If she does it again the ban would indeed be enforced and possible criminal charges imposed. Fool me once, and all that.

  27. lettucefactory says:

    This would so not be an issue for me, because I’d be far too embrarrassed to ever, ever show my face there again. Even if it was a genuine accident, and even if they were kind about it and didn’t hassle me.

    Plus I don’t have $90 to spend on like, three avocados, so I don’t shop much at Whole Foods, anyway.

    They don’t really have any way to know if someone like her is “just frazzled,” or “just really shoplifting.” So while I don’t generally like Whole Foods, I’m sympathetic to their policy. I’m sure most folks turn apologetic when they’re caught with merchandise in their purses.

    She’s a frazzled mom? Me too. I’d take this as a good lesson for the family. Shoplifting has consequences, kiddos.

  28. Dallas_shopper says:

    I can see it from both sides. On the one hand, no retail chain wants to be seen to be tolerating blatant shoplifting.

    On the other, I believe her that it was inadvertent. It has happened to a lot of people, frazzled moms or not. I’ve walked out of grocery stores a couple of times and found small items sitting under my purse in the front of the shopping cart as I’m loading my groceries; I put them in the cart, pick my purse up while I’m shopping, they roll around, put the purse down on top of them without looking, and forget to pay for them. I go back in and pay and they’ve never branded me a shoplifter, though I do always try to remember to lift my gargantuan purse and check under it as I’m putting my shopping on the belt.

    Shit happens. I’m sure she didn’t mean it and Whole Food’s response seems very heavy-handed, but then again I’m sure they have a zero tolerance policy towards shoplifting…inadvertent or not. I feel for her but I don’t think there’s anything that can be done. If Whole Foods reverses itself then they’re seen as a soft touch; REAL shoplifters will try the “frazzled mom” excuse (not that they don’t already). Plus, shop managers are usually pretty cynical; they see jaw-dropping behavior on a near-daily basis. People who have never worked retail often have no idea the kinds of yarns people spin when they’re trying to get away with something.

    But I do believe Chicago Mom didn’t deliberately “steal” the vitamins. She just had a moment of absentmindedness with pretty severe consequences. She’s human.

    • craptastico says:

      i dont know that letting her go would encourage other shoplifters to use the frazzled mom excuse. it’s not like they have meetings every month to see who got away with what and how. the bottom line is that she did what she did and should be ready to accept the consequences. personally if i were the store manager i’d have let her go with paying for the stuff and a silly lecture, but i can’t blame the manager for doing what he did.

  29. akbibliophile says:

    Storing items in your purse and leaving without paying for them will get you treated like a thief? I’m SHOCKED!

  30. shepd says:

    “Would you want me in your home if you found me leaving your home with property of yours?”

    Only if my home existed for the sole purpose of people taking things out of it. You know, like most retail stores, including Whole Foods.

    Considering that getting a collection agency to bill people who don’t owe money is generally illegal, how about this one:

    “Would I want someone from Whole Foods in my home if they try to steal money from me, but then say it was a mistake?”

    • bookstoreguy says:

      It’s called a civil demand notice and it’s standard procedure. The OP must have signed an agreement to keep Whole Foods from calling the police.

  31. BStu78 says:

    I can’t disagree with Whole Foods on this. They DID show discretion by not involving the police but she made a grave mistake. They could have justifiably had her arrested. They ARE trying to be reasonable and she’s just trying to bargain them down from that. Well, it doesn’t work that way. This isn’t a negotiation. Whole Foods showed discretion and restraint in not pressing charges. What’s more, they even agreed to life the store ban! And yet she says she hasn’t “forgiven” Whole Foods? She’s gotten off without ANY consequences of his mistake. I’m sorry, but she’s acting very entitled here and isn’t taking any responsibility for the fact that she DID shoplift nor is she acknowledging that Whole Foods at every step has opted NOT escalate the situation. They did not call police. They didn’t maintain the ban. They declined to collect the statutory damages they are allowed to. She wants them to do what, exactly? Apologize to her for catching her shoplifting?

  32. jeff_the_snake says:

    if you walk out with the vitamins in your hand its an honest mistake. concealed in a purse is a misdemeanor. seriously even if this was a legitimate accident, she basically got off scot free. what does she have to bitch about?

    • rockasocky says:

      No, it’s only a misdemeanor if she INTENDED to steal it. That’s how our legal system works.

      • jibo says:

        I’m pretty sure whether or not you intend to commit a crime doesn’t make it legal. It might lower the punishment, but it’s still a crime.

        • cf27 says:

          You need to have some level of intent for most crimes. If you break into your neighbor’s house at night, you could be a burglar, or you could just be confused because your neighbor’s house looks a lot like yours, and you lost your keys and thought you were breaking into your own house. In that second case, you haven’t committed a crime.

          With shoplifting, concealing an article is considered prima facie evidence of your intent. It can be rebutted, but it’s a harder case to make.

      • johnva says:

        There is very litte reason to believe that she didn’t intend to in this case. Could I just walk out of Best Buy with a plasma screen TV and then say “oh sorry, I didn’t INTEND to steal it”?

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        So there is no penalty for involuntary manslaughter, then?

        I’ll have to keep that in mind.

        • johnva says:

          It’s not that there’s no penalty. A more analogous situation would be someone committing a murder and then getting off with a very light penalty (involuntary manslaughter) purely because they claimed they didn’t mean to. That only works if you’re a BART cop.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        So there is no penalty for involuntary manslaughter, then?

        I’ll have to keep that in mind.

        • rockasocky says:

          Involuntary manslaughter is an entirely different crime from larceny, so you’re comparing apples to oranges. When you steal something, you have to intend to steal it. When you kill someone, we have different requirements for the different levels of homicide.

      • BStu78 says:

        Intent may be an element of a crime, but its not one the prosecution necessarily needs to prove. That she DID walk out of the store with something she did not pay for can imply intent. The burden is then on the accused to try to show a lack of intent, which is not necessarily easy. A defendant’s word is rarely sufficient. You would need to show that the circumstances make intent very unlikely. I don’t think this incident would have a strong case on that matter even if there genuinely wasn’t intent. If a jury doesn’t believe a reasonable person would have found themselves in that situation, they can reject the claim that the theft was accidental. Intent may be a component of the crime, but “Oh, I didn’t mean it” is not a sufficient defense, either, when the facts are clear that the actions would constitute a crime.

        • rockasocky says:

          I’m not saying she wouldn’t be convicted, I was just pointing out it’s not automatically a misdemeanor to put vitamins into your purse.

      • jeff_the_snake says:

        and loss prevention officers have 5 or 6 (depending on training) elements of a theft that they must observe in order to prove intent. the court doesn’t just take your word for it.

  33. Murph1908 says:

    I am fine with Whole Food’s action on this.

    I once forgot to pay for a keychain at a touristy store in Switzerland. I went back in and paid, but had I been nabbed on the way out, it would have been my fault. I would have been very happy to have not been reported to the police, and allowed to walk.

    Mistakes happen, and Whole Foods realizes this. But people shoplift too, and claim it was a mistake when they are caught. Proper response in my opinion.

  34. uberbitter says:

    I guess all of you who can’t imagine how someone could accidentally put vitamins in a purse have never accidentally put the cereal (insert favorite non-perishable item here) into the refrigerator. If you’re juggling multiple things or are tired or distracted, I think they’re both easy mistakes to make.

    • Charmander says:

      Yeah, and to top it off, there was no mention of a purse in the original article. So she didn’t just accidentally put it in her purse.

      The article said she put it in her bag – which I’m assuming means the bag in which her $40 of already purchased groceries were in. I definitely can see that happening.

  35. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    It’s a business.

    However the $250.00 collection call was pretty douchy.

    Don’t bother patronizing them again. Hell, they cost too much anyhow.

  36. Green Mountain Boy says:

    I don’t believe this story for one second! And good for Whole Foods for not believing it either.

  37. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Things falling into one’s purse in a cart can happen to any female, frazzled or not. I’ve many times placed something small that would ordinarily slip through the holes in the cart (a lipstick, nail polish, etc.) on the top of my purse to keep an eye on it until I get to the register. 9 times out of 10, my cell phone will ring or there’s another reason I’ll need to get into my purse, and that item will most likely fall in, but because I’ve remembered that I put it there in the first place, I take it right back out again.

    Sorry that all of you who don’t seem to see the plausibility of this occurence immediately jump to the fact that she intended to steal the vitamins, but if I were in the same situation I would’ve offered to pay too – does that make me more suspicious because I offered to pay? If I really WERE a shoplifter and I got caught and DIDN’T offer to pay, does that take the suspicion off of me?

    This woman’s in a no-win situation apparently. She needs to just take her business elsewhere.

  38. trujunglist says:

    i don’t believe this woman’s story. whole foods is just protecting itself. i see nothing wrong with this. i’ve had a guy try to walk out of my house with shit and then claimed the same thing – oh, i got distracted. oh really, you were so distracted that you forgot you were taking radiohead cds out of their cases and walking out of the door with them? that guy was lucky i didn’t kick his stupid punk ass. now i regret not doing it because he turned out to be a real scumbag fuck.

  39. Geekybiker says:

    She should thank them for banning her.

  40. ginnel says:

    No. Women do not put items in their purse that they intend to pay for. Distracted by a child , a text message, etc. you would just sit the product back down on the shelf. I try not to even open my purse in a store until I get to the register.

  41. El_Fez says:

    When I go to the store and get a hand basket – and then load up with more than I intended (or some really heavy stuff), when I go to get a actual cart (usually located outside the front doors, I’m always shocked that nobody blinks an eye at me as I stroll out the door, blatant and bold as brass.

    I guess Seattle’s just a different world from the rest of the planet. We’re just more laid back about that sort of thing.

  42. The_IT_Crone says:

    I just don’t “buy” that an item in a purse (or a pocket, etc) was a “mistake.”

  43. What’s your problem, Kazanski? says:

    Since when is mistaking your purse for your shopping cart an acceptable?

  44. holden190 says:

    Frazzled or unfrazzled, she shoplifted plain and simple.

  45. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I do that frequently. Especially with drinks – I’ll just put the cover on the bottle and put it in my purse. I think I did it with Excedrine once, too.
    Once I put a scarf around my shoulders to “carry” it, and checked out and left the store. Didn’t realize it until I got to the car.

  46. javert says:

    How was this resolved on the Simpsons?

  47. Pork Chops of Rage says:

    I’ve done something like this before. I’ve accidentally stuck a package of gum in my pocket while just carrying it around a store. Its just a habit when something is in my hand for a while, I just put it in my pocket without thinking

    I’ve “lost” tons of stuff this way, only to check my pockets not realizing the item was in there.

    I believe her, it was probably just an absent-minded habit.

  48. Draw2much says:

    I can buy that she put the vitamins in her purse accidentally (especially if the purse was sitting in the “kiddy seat”). However, didn’t she have to.. you know.. PAY for her groceries? Which means opening her purse? The bottle should have been sitting on top of everything inside her purse. So when she went to get her cash, card, check book, whatever… she ought to have noticed the bottle right then.

    But even if I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and that it really was an accident, I still think Whole Foods had the right to ban her. They likely have video of her putting the bottle in her purse and then attempting to walk out with it. What more proof do they need?

    While I’m sorry she had to suffer embarrassment (if she was innocent) she ought to just accept the situation and move on. Find another grocery store. Maybe she’ll find out that there’s a much better, cheaper, Grocery store in the area she’s been missing out on all along! :)

    • Charmander says:

      Maybe you should read the original article. It may change your mind, because there was no mention of anything being placed in a purse.

  49. MickeyMoo says:

    $40? What is that @ WF, a carrot and a yogurt?

  50. Sparkstalker says:

    I can see how they inadvertently got in her purse. She picks them up when her phone rings…she reaches in to her purse with the bottle in her hand, because the other one is holding on to a toddler. She drops the bottle when she gets her phone, and then gets distracted again, forgetting to grab it when she puts the phone away.

    Shit happens occasionally when you’re being pulled in multiple directions at once.

  51. Bkhuna says:

    To get reinstated, she just needs to drive her $70,000 dollar European SUV (12 mpg) down to a oil company demonstration and hand out “Hope and Change” bumper stickers.

    Penance accepted and back into the cult

  52. billpendry says:

    Yeah, being a dude I can’t say I’m an expert on purse-handling. But…

    I would think that one would keep their purse zipped closed all the time so stuff doesn’t fall out, opening it only when one needed to get something out. Which means this woman absent-mindedly unzipped/unsnapped/unwhatevered her purse and then absent-mindedly put something inside.


  53. creative differences says:

    i’m not sure why a person who uses the ‘frazzled mom’ excuse should be given any more leeway than any other customer who shoplifts… intentional or not, it is still technically shoplifting.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I dunno, let’s try it.

      “Sorry I left that clamp in you, I’m just a frazzled surgeon!”

      Sounds natural and blameless to me!

  54. EcPercy says:

    Sounds like an honest mistake to me. I can see how you could get distracted. I think the store should have just let her pay for the vitamins and be on her way.

    If I were in her shoes. I would definitely not shop there anymore.

    It’s easy to say things seem suspicious, but unless everyone on here posting is a parent (I am) then you can’t possibly understand being in the store with kid(s) where they want to touch everything in the place and they have to pee every time you go into a store… It can get a little crazy. I get a headache just thinking about it…

    Where is the humanity? Does no one have compassion for other human beings anymore? So you ban a paying customer (she did buy $40 worth of groceries) for a $3 bottle of vitamins? Yea she put it in her purse, but how much money does the lost business cost you in the long run?

    • Sparkstalker says:

      It’s funny you don’t realize how much of a distraction kids are until you actually have them. People without them fail to realize that you’re responsible now not just for yourself, but keeping your children safe also…and that takes a lot of attention away from other things.

      And for the “if you can’t control them, don’t take them” crowd, they’ve obviously never seen how fast a kid’s mood can change. And not taking them isn’t always an option….you can’t exactly leave a toddler at home or in the car.

      • Doubts42 says:

        I have kids, i fully realize that you can’t always control them and that they can certainly cause a distraction. However, I have never stuck any unpaid for item in my pocket at the store and used them as an excuse either. Doesn’t it take longer to open up your purse and put something in it than it does to just toss it in the cart?

    • Randell says:

      It tells me you can not handle shopping and your kids at the same time. Sorry, but I didn’t make the choice to have my prices increased because you got knocked up. If you can not handle your responsibilty to parent and pay for items at the same time, DON:T DO THEM TOGETHER.

  55. Kaiser-Machead says:

    I once banned a man forever for accidentally leaving with one of my pens. You will be missed, Mr. Uniball :(

  56. Tomas says:

    It *may* have been an accident, but personally I’ve never “accidentally” put a product in a purse, bag, pocket, or other container that would conceal it then walked out of a store with it.

    Since there is absolutely NO way to tell what was going through her mind when she concealed the product prior to leaving without paying for it, the obvious assumption by me would be it was intentional.

    The fact that she paid for some stuff but not for all is COMMON with shoplifters…

    I come down on While Foods side in this one.

  57. Tomas says:

    It *may* have been an accident, but personally I’ve never “accidentally” put a product in a purse, bag, pocket, or other container that would conceal it then walked out of a store with it.

    Since there is absolutely NO way to tell what was going through her mind when she concealed the product prior to leaving without paying for it, the obvious assumption by me would be it was intentional.

    The fact that she paid for some stuff but not for all is COMMON with shoplifters…

    I come down on Whole Foods side in this one.

  58. rockasocky says:

    Involuntary manslaughter is an entirely different crime from larceny, so you’re comparing apples to oranges. When you steal something, you have to intend to steal it. When you kill someone, we have different requirements for the different levels of homicide.

  59. common_sense84 says:

    Collections agency a mistake? Ha.

    It sounds like they ran her through the gauntlet testing to see what she wouldn’t complain about and calling their dumb actions a mistake every time she complained.

  60. taney71 says:

    I think the next step in hanging for Whole Foods.

  61. Stiv says:

    Might not she have had to go into her purse when she went to pay for her other groceries. I know some women’s purses are cavernous, but you think she might have seen the vitamins in there when she was checking out….

  62. MustardTiger says:

    I did this today… Got all the way through my purchase and realized I was still holding an eye-liner tube. Asked the guy “Hey, I never gave this to you did I?” Then proceeded to checkout again.
    I believe her case was an honest mistake.. I nearly left the store, too and I’m not even frazzled!

  63. mandy_Reeves says:

    well, I don’t WANT to blame the op…really…but where’s the whole story? How did they get into her purse? I can see if she had one of those shopping bags everyone bring with them nowadays and forgot to take it out to pay for it…but if it’s in the pocket book, did it fall in there? did her kids put it in there? I’m just jaded after years in retail and hearing the same thing from everyone who is caught shop lifting. “oh I forgot…sorry….or “my kid put it in there” it can happen, but 9 times out of 10, it’s shop lifting. That is something petty thieves will do, too. Buy some stuff to avoid suspicion, and pocket something like under 10 bucks.

    • Charmander says:

      Read the original article. There is no mention of any vitamins being concealed in a purse.

      Then, let’s find out why the editor, Chris Morran, wrote something that wasn’t in the article in the first place.

  64. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I think WF was in the right. They hear all kinds of stories and they have no way of knowing which ones are real or not. Everyone who shoplifts claims they are innocent. Also, I can’t ever think of a time when I out an unpaid for store item in my purse. That is a bit strange.

  65. VouxCroux says:

    I’m with Whole Foods, and this from someone who as a teen was banned from a K-Mart for attempting to shoplift $2 worth of plastic.

    It may appear that she “accidentally” walked out with the vitamins. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. But what if everyone caught doing it on purpose said it was an accident and was allowed to get off scott free? No, sir, that wouldn’t do at all.


  66. Mary13134 says:

    Sorry but I have to take the side of Whole Foods. I have kids and grandkids and have NEVER been shopping and mistakenly placed something that didn’t legally belong to me in my purse. I don’t buy it.

  67. Mary13134 says:

    Sorry but I have to take the side of Whole Foods. I have kids and grandkids and have NEVER been shopping and mistakenly placed something that didn’t legally belong to me in my purse. I don’t buy the excuse she’s frazeled? Sorry

  68. Kingeryck says:

    I’d have to side with the store. Anybody can say “oops I forgot I put that [where I can easily steal it]”.

  69. statnut says:

    I’ve done this before by accident, just recently in fact. I was in a grocery story with my 1 year old in the stroller. I put the deli cheese I bought on the little fold up canopy, because I had run out of room in the basket underneath the stroller. After I walked out the door and down the block, I extended the canopy to cover my son from the sun, and there was the cheese. I walked back and paid for it. But from the sounds of some of you, I should have been labeled a thief for an honest mistake.

  70. bookstoreguy says:

    I work in retail and we have apprehended a number of customers that have purchased something while also having concealed unpaid merchandise. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve watched people in line to pay for products conceal other merchandise while waiting to pay! My favorite was the woman with a $3000 Chloe purse stealing $400 worth of makeup. She had a Black AMEX card in her wallet and lived at the freaking Ritz! It takes all kinds! This could have been an honest mistake on her part, but how is Whole Foods to know?

  71. maztec says:

    No offense, but why did she put the vitamins in her purse? I do not put things I am intending to buy at a store in my purse or backpack, I put them in my shopping cart.

  72. Pax says:

    She FORGOT that she’d put them in he purse?


    Simply put … she should never have put them there in the first place. And Id on’t believe she “forgot” anything.

  73. poppycho says:

    Some of the gummy vitamins can cost upwards of TWENTY dollars a bottle, it’s a lot easier to steal a small bottle of expensive vitamins than say twenty dollars worth of organic fruit.

    Whole foods can refuse this woman’s business if they like. Let her complain.

  74. physics2010 says:

    If there was video as opposed to just a roving plainclothes they could play it back. It would be pretty obvious if it were intentional or accidental. I must admit I’ve put a small item in my short pocket once, but caught myself before leaving the store. Doing that distractedly vs surreptitiously looks completely different.
    Now for small items I hold them away from my body like a wet sock to prevent myself from doing it. I’ve also not scanned an item at self service. Not sure why the “unexpected item” alert didn’t go off, but I caught it on the receipt and went back in and paid for it after dropping the rest of my items off at the car.

  75. mdoneil says:

    Who puts merchandise in their purse?

  76. stormbird says:

    When I was a teen, I walked out of a bookstore without paying. I was thinking about the chores and errands I had to run, walked past a security guard with the book in my hand and was at my car before I realized I forgot to pay. The clerk was confused when I walked back in and bought the book I pulled out of my jacket.

    I think Whole Foods has to keep her banned because if they unban her, they open themselves up to a lawsuit from a shoplifter who is of a different racial/ethnic/religious/socioeconomic group. Not to say that a shoplifter would have a greater tendency to hire a lawyer for a frivolous lawsuit. People sue because hot tea is hot. Please don’t sue me.

  77. humphrmi says:

    I’ve got to go with others here… there’s no such thing as “inadvertent” shoplifting. If her husband is texting her while the kids need to pee, she needs to ignore the text and pay attention to her shopping.

    She stole some stuff, she didn’t get terribly punished, she hopefully learned her lesson.

  78. Serenefengshui says:

    I’ve done that. My kids have too. And I go back in, pay, and it’s never been a big deal. Whole Foods policy may be fine, but enforcing it in a draconian way is irrational. I hope that the woman never goes back and tells all her friends. I’m certainly less likely to shop at Whole Foods after hearing about this incident.

  79. marzolian says:

    I don’t shop at Whole Foods, mostly because they are expensive. But your remark that it is an “overpriced grocery chain” has no place in this story. I don’t see that they did anything wrong. Even if the woman was careless (and I have done stupider things myself) they have the right to ask her to shop elsewhere.

  80. joe says:

    20 years ago i used to shoplift a lot and i would do exactly what she did – buy some stuff and nonchalantly put one small/expensive item in your bag or pocket and if caught (i was only caught once) you say you weren’t paying attention and you forgot it was there.

    you don’t put stuff in your purse or pocket on accident.

    this usually only works for white people because of racism. i bet it works great for a mom with kids. she has probably done this dozens or hundreds of times before.

  81. karmaghost says:

    why did she put them in her purse? big mistake; i never put unpaid merchandise in my pockets.

  82. shufflemoomin says:

    Maybe it was an honest mistake, but I just don’t see why you’d put something in your purse in the store when you have a shopping cart or basket right with you. Personally, if I saw someone in a store put something in their bag or pocket, I’d assume they were trying to steal it. I can’t think of any other valid reason to do so.

  83. mileena says:

    Hi, I am a former professional shoplifter, and used to steal $300-$1,000 daily. I find it highly suspicious this woman put the bottle in her purse inadvertently…meaning she probably knew what she was doing. I cannot tell you how many times I “accidentally” put store merchandise in my purse while also making legitimate purchases.

  84. radio1 says:

    Someone please tell me– since when is someone who shops at Whole Foods is not supposed to feel entitled???

  85. bhr says:

    Zero Tolerance means, sadly, everyone gets tarred.

    Point blank if they let her go then the next person who walks out with an item can point to her and claim racial/age/sex/whatever bias and sue the shit out of the company.

    Here is my question, how did they notice/catch her? I cant imagine someone was following her to see if she was going to accidentally drop an item in to her bag (is that grocery bag or purse?) unless she was either 1) blatantly doing it or 2) Someone they already suspected of shoplifting.

    As to the blatant thing, someone who pays for their items, bags them, then grabs an additional single item off a shelf would be noticed, and since it was just a single item. And the fact that she grabbed that item and never walked near a register is something an employee would notice. The fact that she headed toward the bathroom is also not in her favor, as thats another shoplifting trick.

  86. Eli the Ice Man says:

    Who’s to say she didn’t put them in her purse with the intention for theft? Anyone can do that and say “awww sorry brah, I was distracted”, but it’s difficult for me to think, when I put myself in the shoes of Whole Foods, that I’d actually buy that.

  87. Andyb2260 says:

    The fact that she went back in, specifically to get the vitamins, then LEFT without going through the registers to pay for said vitamins makes me suspect that it was a deliberate act..
    Putting something in your bag or even a coat pocket while picking up a couple of small items is understandable, not smart but understandable. The fact that not only did she “forget” the vitamins were in her purse but also “forgot” that she picked them up to begin with just boggles the mind.
    The thief got off lucky.

  88. sendbillmoney says:

    Some serious chutzpah by Ms. Portes. If you want to not be treated like a shoplifter, don’t walk out of a store with its property. It seems fairly cut and dried to me.

    Did Ms. Portes mean to shoplift? She’s the only one who truly knows. The rest of us have to look at her actions. I think it’s reasonable to expect an adult to pay sufficient attention to her actions that she doesn’t end up walking off with things she doesn’t own.

    Whole Food should have stuck to its guns. One day there will be a minority member who gets popped for shoplifting while claiming similar circumstances, that person won’t get reinstatedfor whatever reason, and they’ll sue for discrimination.

  89. Randell says:

    Whole Foods is 100% correct. If her kids distract her that much, then it could happen the next time she brings them in. Whole Foods should not be held responsible for her failure to multi-task when her kids are around. I also have an issue with putting the vitamins in the bag. It would NEVER be acceptable to put unpaid for merchandise in the same bag as paid for merchandise. I wonder how much the kids excuse would fly if she swerved in her car and killed somebody?

  90. adrianna.jackson says:

    So dumb, there have been one or two times I left a store with soda in the bottom of the cart! I simply didn’t see it and I went back and payed for it. People make mistakes. But if I was treated like that I certainly would never shop there again. Backinpgh is right, shop at Trader Joes, they are much more friendlier! To top it all off, Whole Foods has a bad rep with me, I sick once eating from their sandwich/hot food bar, never more!

  91. JulesNoctambule says:

    I’m surprised by all the people posting about how they routinely place small things on/around their purse in the cart. I never leave my purse in the cart at all — it’s far too easy for someone to lift it and go.

  92. DanKelley98 says:

    Of course they should let her back in. Doesn’t everyone occasionally miss the cart and put merchandise in their purse?

  93. hmburgers says:

    If it’s a simple mistake, let her pay and go… if she’s caught a 2nd time she should be banned…

    Too many people probably create their own “discounts” this way… buy 9 items, steal a 10th…

  94. UnicornMaster says:

    I am unclear how or why she put vitamins in her bag. Did she have a shopping cart or hand basket Don’t all unpaid for goods go in there?
    I am impressed that security found it. Did they have security tags on vitamins? Was security eying her the whole time?

  95. toiletdog says:

    Accident or not, Whole Foods did the right thing. “Frazzled Mom” doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean anything in the way of shoplifting; they handled it better than they could have (i.e., jail time). It isn’t up to Whole Foods to determine whether it was an accident or not; they follow policy regardless. She got off easy.

  96. pot_roast says:

    Wow. If she can’t handle such distractions as texting and a kid needing to pee, how does she get through the day? Turn the phone off (or zip it up in your purse) and take the kid to the bathroom. There, now you can focus.
    Besides, it’s considered unsafe to have your purse wide open in the shopping cart anyway. I think there’s more to this story. Security actually took notice of her followed her into the parking lot, which indicates that they thought this was a lot more than just an accident by a frazzled mom.

  97. Eterion says:

    Doesn’t matter how the store treated her (within reasonable limits of course). The woman is a thief, plain and simple. If the security guard didn’t flag her down, she probably would’ve thought “Woot! Made away with a free bottle of overpriced kiddie vitamins”.

    This isn’t a case of big-chain-store vs. poor victim consumer, this is a case of big-chain-store vs. pity-seeking-thief.

  98. Doubts42 says:

    I don’t get how people (women people) think it is OK to put items in their purse before paying for them. If i were a store manager I would have a really hard time believing that you intended to pay for the item you put in your purse.

    And yes i do have kids, and i do shop with them. I find the cart carries all my purchases just fine without me having to put anything in my pockets.

  99. Anaxamenes says:

    She left the store with something that wasn’t hers. Maybe she needs to get a babysitter for the kids so that she can be a bit more attentive to her sticky fingers. Maybe it was an honest mistake, to correct it she needs to make changes, I don’t think it is up to the store.

    Yes we are all busy, we all have people who need to be taken care of, but we all need to take a deep breath and start paying a bit more attention.

  100. operator207 says:

    If you want what Whole Foods and all are going for, try your local market. We have a couple near us (within the same distance it would take to get to WF, Walmart, Target or Krogers) and are about the same price or a couple cents more expensive than Walmart prices for vegetables.

  101. Frau Eva says:

    To all the people who say that her being a Mom and buying other stuff means she obviously couldn’t have been shoplifting, think again. I’ve seen fragile-looking old ladies try pasting on new UPCs to buy everything at the cheapest prices possible, old ladies with children who tells them just to eat whatever bananas and bagels they want and not pay for them, a guy bringing in two kids while committing mass credit card fraud, etc, etc, etc. I’m not at all saying that I know what’s in the woman’s heart, but race, reproductive status, and prior purchases mean nothing.

    Now, I could understand if it was left in her basket and she didn’t see it…that happens all the time and I’ve never seen anyone be less than understanding of it. I’ve had lots of people come back into the store and paid for it once they realized. However, the item is not concealed–just hard to spot because it’s small or on the bin under the basket. Concealing a purchased item is really all the evidence you need to bring her to court. And really, no matter how frazzled I’ve been or started consuming the item before checkout, have I ever put it in a pocket or other concealed place. It just doesn’t come natural. While it does seem like a lame thing to shoplift compared to the other stuff she bought, some people are just doing it for the thrill and figure little stuff like that’ll go under the radar. There’s all kinds of shoplifters doing it for all kinds of reasons.

  102. wee_willie says:

    I have caught myself more than once starting to put a small item in my pocket or purse so I could pick up another item. When I was a teen, I walked out of a store with three 45 rpm records and two other items (can’t think of what they were) in front of the security guard, and I didn’t have a problem getting by. When I realized what I’d done, I went back into the store and paid for the items. The problem occurred because I had a shopping bag from another store in my arms, and the other items were in my hands. Nobody made a big deal of it.

  103. Forgotten18 says:

    Too bad this lady wasn’t arrested…Whole Foods need to get on the game with these Shoplifter’s. Banning them from the store, that’s it?

  104. missannethrope says:

    The security guard they had at the wfs I worked at used to steal crap all the time. The company later invested in security cameras and hired a different security guard. Unrelated events I gather.