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[Resolved] Food Lion And Piggly-wiggly - Both In Lugoff, SC / Improper handling of suspected shoplifting

1 Lugoff, SC, United States Review updated:
Contact information:

My friend and I use power chairs and frequently go grocery shopping together. Oftentimes my friend does so by himself, while I often send my nurses to do so for me.

On April 22, 2009, my friend was shopping at Food Lion. According to reports from employees at the store and from my friend, employees did not follow standard procedures when they suspected him of shoplifting. An employee, not the Store Manager, shouted, "Where is the London Broil, I saw you take it, " in front of everybody at the front of the store. Employees tried capturing my friend by locking the electric doors, and then by following him into the neighborhood. They finally called the Sheriff's Office, whose deputy tracked my friend and ordered him to return to the store in his power chair. It is unclear to me if the shoplifting ever really occurred, as no charges were filed. But they barred my friend from the store. Because of the reckless behavior of the employees of the store, it became a spectacle with many employees involved: only one deputy responded to the scene.

Since then, my friend starting shopping at the other supermarket, Piggly-Wiggly, about a mile south of the Food Lion. He reported to me that ever since the Food Lion incident, every time he goes to Piggly Wiggly, employees at that store began to follow him closely, stopping anything they were doing at the time and being obtrusive about it.

Today, May 15, 2009, I was at Piggly-Wiggly in Lugoff. An employee (female from Produce) there was looking at me with a snarled face and distaste, but I ignored it. I was waiting on my friend to arrive so we could eat at a nearby restaurant. When he did arrive he decided to do some shopping. The same female employee began to follow him. We were discussing what he wanted to shop for, when the employee stated, "scan around, but you ain't going to steal anything this time!!" My friend immediately called 911, stating that he has been accused of stealing. No theft was ever reported from that store, nor any incident involving such. A parade of employess from Piggly Wiggly followed -- at least ten employees -- while the Manager, who was paged, invited all of us to talk. But the deputy arrived and this couldn't happen. The Manager has now barred my friend, not me, however, from entering his store.

It is obvious that Food Lion has not handled its case of suspected shoplifting properly and that employees from that store have given information to Piggly-Wiggly that my friend is a shoplifter-- this even though no charges were brought against him. It illustrates the reckless and improper handling of any suspected shoplifting cases.

Based on the foregoing I submit this complaint against Piggly-Wiggly and Food Lion, both of Lugoff, SC. I have some loss-prevention/asset protection experience at three Department Stores and one grocery store. This certainly is not the way shoplifting cases are handled. I suggest that those reading this article avoid shopping at those stores as much as possible.

  • Resolution statement

    Everything is moot, now: my friend has died. He died March 14, 2012, of complications related to his size (he was malignantly obese). And the Piggly-Wiggly in question is closed.

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Comments

  • Rw
      16th of May, 2009
    +2 Votes

    people are being treated badly more than ever now and if they had access to an attorney on the spot i know things would have been handled differently and apologies would have been given to the two who has been treated wrong at the pig and food lion and i would be more than happy to help. [email protected]

  • Ja
      26th of May, 2009
    +2 Votes

    actually as an employee i can tell you we usually dont prosecute unless it was a fairly large amount stolen (cost more) usually you are just banned and if you come back we then call the police if nothing was stolen then there would be no problem

  • Mo
      16th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    By the way, I don't condone shoplifting in any way, or by anyone, regardless of my relationship with the actual, potential, or suspected shoplifter, so the issue is not whether this person actually committed the crime. He was not arrested or charged with the offense. If the store had enough evidence, believe me: they would have prosecuted!

  • Rw
      16th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    yes lugoff is small and had that been me they suspected of shoplifting it would have been different being im not in a motorized chair and having access to the legal system would have made a difference because no business wants lawyers involved and i dont know if the whole story was told but being no charges were filed that person was innocent and treated badly esp at the pig shooooot my law firm would have been all over that

  • Mo
      16th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    First of all, dialing 911 was the most prudent choice this man could make, given not only the accusation (which of course is not grounds for 911-dialing), but for the bombardment by several other employees. There is a law that says one may not be accused of shoplifting and there are civil remedies for customers being mistreated by store employees.

  • Rw
      16th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    exactly but how many people know their rights in a situation like that ya know if you dont know ya rights you may as well not have any and thats why i like what i do

  • Rw
      26th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    well we can go on and on about this so lets say this is someone else whose not elderly or bound to a chair do you approach this person in front of everyone or do you wait to confront this person outside?

  • Mo
      26th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    I worked for about four years in three different department stores and a grocery chain as a loss prevention specialist.

    Never should a subject be approached by anyone other than the Store Manager on Duty, Loss Prevention Officer, or Security Officer if a store has one.

    When a subject is about to leave the store without paying for the merchandise, the Store Manager should calmly approach the subject and ask him to come with him to the office. If the subject refuses the Manager can direct someone to call police, and then follow the subject until Police take over. If the subject leaves in a car the license number, color, make, and model of vehicle should be copied down. Never should a cavalry of store employees be involved.

    If the subject has not been arrested he may be banned from the store at Manager's option, but not embarassed in front of other people, nor other stores be notified of such event.

    Looks can be deceiving, and it could appear that someone is shoplifting but it isn't. Three basic elements of the crime must occur for a solid case:

    1. The subject was seen hiding merchandise on his person or anywhere he can conceal the merchandise. If this happens it can automatically be inferred that the person is attempting to steal an item from the store.

    2. The same employee must be obeserving the entire event. If the subject decides to return the merchandise before leaving or trying to leave the store then the shoplifting did not occur.

    3. The subject must be trying to leave the store without paying for the merchandise. This occurs after the subject leaves the cash register if he is paying for other items in the store. If the subject reveals the hidden item to place it on the cash register's moving belt, or is otherwise queueing the item to be paid for, and pays for it, then NO shoplifting (at least not that item) occurred.

    Okay, maybe it was on the mind of the shoplifter to steal an item (or some items), but if at least one of the three elements is missing, the STORE HAS NO CASE!!! However, the Manager has the option to ban the subject from entering the store.

    To answer your question, rwj19731, the subject should be confronted right after he passes the cash registers, whether he paid for other items or not, and BEFORE he actually leaves through the doors.

  • Tr
      26th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Wow, this is so typical of Food Lion AND Piggly Wiggly. I shop at Kroger and/or Publix or Ingles and never get that treatment. People should learn to be more respectful. Had this customer not been in a power chair, this would not have happened.

    The procedures Mobilmedic listed are correct.

    A friend of mine was accused of stealing money she was trying to return to the store by a surly cashier. She claimed the friend stole it from another employee who dropped it at her register. My friend had the money in hand and said show me to the employee and was told the employee left. Who would leave without their $100? Not me! Not my friend! She called the manager who took the money and her phone number. The next day, he called and said he spoke to the employee who "supposedly" lost the money and asked her if she lost $100! She said she had to look in her wallet, which she did, and told him it was hers! That was a lucky break for her, because the manager believed this whopper. My friend was told to call the police but she didn't. What would they do?

  • Mo
      26th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Actually there is a law stating that all elements of the crime must be present in order to prosecute: the three elements I mentioned.

  • Mo
      26th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    By the way, here are a couple of main pointers:

    As mentioned, the SAME employee who saw a person take and conceal an item (or items) of merchandise must observe the entire event, from start to finish. The employee (witness) may not delegate another employee to watch the subject because that employee's (non-witness) statement is then considered hearsay. The Manager should be notified quickly, and can be notified by another employee while the witness employee is still observing the subject, whom this employee should watch constantly but stealthily.

    Video surveillance should not be depended on as the sole source of evidence. A live employee must be watching the event entirely, corroborated by the video evidence.

  • Tr
      11th of Jun, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Some states don't use the video evidence. Some do. But your comments about having the same person watching is valid.

  • Mo
      6th of Nov, 2009
    +1 Votes

    The behavior of the employees of the Lugoff Piggly Wiggly are questionable to say the least, and I personally saw the whole incident, as I was there. Your bias as a current employee doesn't have a place here in this blog, as you apparantly don't know what went on. And I never questioned the integrity of Gerald Munn, the Store Manager: I agree he is a good man, though his religion is not apropos to this matter: I find it hypocritical to mention a religion as an index for one's moral character. A Christian is no different than an atheist or Jew.

  • Mo
      10th of Dec, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Okay, I might be able to safely factor out the Food Lion portion of this matter: perhaps no Piggly-Wiggly employee knew ever about the Food Lion incident prior to May 15, 2009 (The Food Lion incident occurred on April 22, 2009). Okay, let's say, perhaps the employee in question saw my friend trying to steal something in the past but couldn't catch him (this is the only other scenario I can think of that could have triggered the Piggly-Wiggly incident).

    The truth is that the incident at Piggly-Wiggly, as described, DID OCCUR, and I personally witnessed it. It occurred at 5:23 PM on May 15, 2009, the day after this writer's 45th Birthday. The produce lady, one as described as having blonde/strawberry hair, no eyebrows, about 5 foot 8, wearing a green apron that is typically worn by produce employees (others wear maroon or black aprons), caused a scene at the store, which triggered the aggrieved man to call the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office (via 911).

    Gerald Munn did no wrongdoing in this incident, and as far as I'm concerned, is a good man. I do not question his integrity and qualifications as a grocery store manager, and he did the best he could given the situation, although it's unclear what action he took against the employee mentioned, if anything: she should have had some disciplinary action taken against her. But I suspect that none was taken given probable familial status between the two (probability based on behavior). He didn't ban me from the store, for I did nothing wrong, except try to smoothen things out. I haven't entered the store ever since the incident, and I probably will never do so inasmuch as I don't live in the Lugoff area anymore.

    But since I started this blog I will always keep an eye on it and respond to everyone's comments. It's nice to know that my initial complaint hasn't really gone unnoticed and unheard. The complaint is unresolvable in that it occurred and cannot be retracted unless I am assured that steps have been taken to avoid this type of incident in the future. The employees need proper training on handling suspected shoplifting cases. And the behavior of the employee mentioned are consistent of bipolar disorder and/or substance addiction, for which she needs proper treatment. One reason I left the areea is because it seems to be a haven for persons with such severe mental illnesses.

  • Fo
      12th of Feb, 2010
    +1 Votes

    i didn't read all the replies after the initial post, but really? 10 employees (at least) followed this dude around? come on...

  • Mo
      19th of Feb, 2014
    +1 Votes

    Here's the big PROBLEM with this: as far as the store is concerned, you are committing fraud against the incapacitated individual, and they have finally realized this. And you've been doing this for years, which adds to the problem. I know you probably had legitimate intentions in cashing this man's checks, but you didn't have any authority or permission (as far as they know) to cash these checks. And it's a wonder you hadn't been arrested for this!!


    Here's the big SOLUTION to this: you and this incapacitated individual need to go before a lawyer and have a power of attorney prepared and executed, which will enable you to act on behalf of this man for making any financial or other decisions. Then you can go back to the store and this matter should correct itself.

  • Mo
      6th of Feb, 2010
    0 Votes

    Here is the woman in the complaint. She is the one who started the whole fiasco. This picture was taken as she was waiting at the pharmacy, perhaps for her antipsychotic medication.

  • Gi
      16th of May, 2009
    -1 Votes

    there is no law that says any store employee has to treat someone they suspect of shoplifting with respect and courtesy.

    There's absolutely nothing an attorney could do for them.

  • Gi
      16th of May, 2009
    -1 Votes

    also the guy is lucky he didnt get a fine for calling 911. this must be a real small town

  • We
      26th of May, 2009
    -1 Votes

    however, all of that is just company policy guidelines, not some law.

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