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

5

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.

RESOLVED

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.

Responses

  • Mobilmedic May 16, 2009

    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!

    1 Votes
  • rwj19731 May 16, 2009

    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]

    2 Votes
  • Gi
    givemeamedal May 16, 2009

    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.

    -1 Votes
  • Gi
    givemeamedal May 16, 2009

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

    -1 Votes
  • rwj19731 May 16, 2009

    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

    1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 16, 2009

    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.

    1 Votes
  • rwj19731 May 16, 2009

    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

    1 Votes
  • Ja
    jayed May 26, 2009

    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

    2 Votes
  • rwj19731 May 26, 2009

    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?

    1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 26, 2009

    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.

    1 Votes
  • We
    wellnow May 26, 2009

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

    -1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 26, 2009

    Yes, but why do companies make this policy? TO AVOID LAWSUITS.

    0 Votes
  • Ja
    James May 26, 2009

    Your friend called 911 for an ACCUSATION of STEALING? Your friend wasted an operators time because someone accused him of being a thief.

    It'd be hard for me to think of a more pointless use for 911 than that.

    -1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 26, 2009

    I agree, and I already posted about that, James

    -1 Votes
  • Tr
    Tracy May 26, 2009

    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?

    1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 26, 2009

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

    1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 26, 2009

    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.

    1 Votes
  • Tr
    Tracy Jun 11, 2009

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

    1 Votes
  • Lo
    loganwolf Jun 26, 2009

    I worked at food lion in the past and encountered theives on a daily basis. It is a stressful encounter for any employee. People make physical threats and look most often look like they can carry out those threats. The police have brought subjects back to the store who have been found to have an assortment of deadly weapons concealed inside their clothing. After experiencing this, I think that most people in grocery just try to get visible to the perp, and try to make some verbal contact while keeping the person in their sight. In my time as a grocery worker, I found that these simple techniques would thwart most thieves. It is sad to me that someone would possibly exercise their prejudice against someone who had limited mobility, but I do very seriously doubt that the information was communicated from the Food Lion to the Piggly Wiggly.

    0 Votes
  • De
    DEFENSIVE CLERK Nov 04, 2009

    I AM CURRENTLY AN EMPLOYEE OF PIGGLY WIGGLY OF LUGOFF AND I HAVE SEEN JUST HOW THEY HANDLE SUSPECTED THIEVES AND WE DO NOT CONFRONT A SUSPECTED SHOPLIFTER IN FRONT OF PEOPLE AND WE WATCH THEM FOR THE WHOLE INCIDENT AND ONLY AFTER WE SEE THEM CONCEAL AN ITEM DO WE TELL THE MANAGER AND THEN HE CALLS THEM OVER AND HE HANDLES IT IN A PROFESSIONAL MANNER. MR. MUNN IS A REALLY GOOD CHRISTIAN MAN AND HE IS NEVER MEAN OR DISRESPECTFUL TO ANYONE AND I SAY THAT THERE IS NO TRUTH IN THE STATEMENT THAT THE PRODUCE GIRL SAID ANYTHING IMPROPER TO ANY ONE. I KNOW HER PERSONALLY. THE PERSON WHO MADE THE COMPLAINT SAID THAT THEY DID NOT KNOW WEATHER THE THE THEFT EVEN HAPPENED AND I FEEL THAT THEY ARE WRONG IN MAKING THE ACCUSATION

    -1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Nov 06, 2009

    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.

    1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Dec 10, 2009

    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.

    1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Feb 06, 2010

    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.

    0 Votes
  • folk_lore Feb 12, 2010

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

    1 Votes
  • Lu
    lulamae Apr 14, 2010

    Is this the dark headed man that rides down Hwy 1 sometimes in a electric wheel chair and sometimes drives a big van? If so my son was in Walmart one evening and he is a teenager and with his phone he video tape this gentleman trying to shoplift. I saw the video and I ask my son why didnt he tell mangement and he said I didnt want to make a scene. So I wouldnt put the blame on these gro. store if he is stealing because in the long run you and I will be paying for what he steals!!!

    -1 Votes
  • Lu
    lulamae Apr 14, 2010

    Oh the only reason I posted on here was because I google Food Lion Lugoff and this came up so it just reminded me of what my son saw at Walmart in Camden.

    0 Votes
  • Hp
    HPTS Apr 21, 2010

    BEWARE!!! YOU ARE KNOWN FOR THE COMPANY YOU KEEP! YOUR FRIEND IS A THIEF! AND OF COURSE OTHER EMPLOYEES ARE GOING TO BE TOLD WE HAVE A THIEF IN THE STORE. THAT WAY WE HAVE AS MANY AS POSSIBLE KNOWING THE ONES THAT ARE DISHONEST. HE DIDN'T GO TO JAIL WHEN HE STOLE THE LONDON BROIL BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T WANT TO CALL AN AMBULANCE TO TRANSPORT HIM, THEREFORE HE WAS PUT ON A TRESPASS NOTICE. HE'S A THIEF, SIMPLE AS THAT! HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOCKED UP FOR RUNNING INTO ONE OF THE EMPLOYEES WHILE HE WAS WHEELING AWAY! PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE WHEN OTHERS STEAL THAT MAKES PRICES GO UP FOR THE HONEST FOLKS ! INVENTORIES ARE HIGH AND JOBS ARE PUT ON THE LINE! TIMES ARE HARD BUT LYING AND STEALING ISN'T THE WAY! IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE GO TO THE PROPER PLACE AND ASK FOR IT! THE TRASH DUMPSTERS AREN'T THE PROPER PLACE EITHER! THIS GUY DIGS IN DUMPSTERS PROBABLY EVERY DAY! INSTEAD OF CRYING ABOUT HIM BEING CAUGHT STEALING YOU SHOULD BE TRYING TO GET HIM SOME ASSISTANCE!

    -1 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Apr 27, 2010

    The issue of whether he stole that day is not the issue: it's how the case was handled: UNPROFESSIONALLY. As mentioned, there are procedures by which a store must handle shoplifting cases. As for you, whoever is calling my friend a theif: IT'S NOT UP TO YOU TO decide who is a theif: IT'S UP TO A JUDGE, that's what court is for.

    To the person mentioning about the Camden incident: please describe the power chair. Yes, my friend does go down US 1 in his chair, but he doesn't drive a big van: he has a minivan which is now disabled. Please e-mail me reynaldo[email protected], and if possible upload to me the video you are mentioning about.

    Your son should have reported it to management, and even showed him the video. There would have been no scene caused.

    As I mentioned, I am not saying that I don't think my friend stole: I wasn't there when the incident occured. And my complaint was both against Food Lion and Piggly Wiggly in Lugoff. I just think that the case shouldn't have been handled by a cavalry of over ten employees, or otherwise unprofessionally.

    0 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Apr 27, 2010

    By the way, I have already protected myself: I don't live in the area any more. I also don't shop with him at any time or store, whether in your town, let alone my town.

    0 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Apr 27, 2010

    My friend has salt & pepper hair, does go down US1 in his chair somtimes, but doesn't drive a big van. So you may not be describing the same person. If your son has a video I'd like to see it. Please e-mail it to: [email protected]

    0 Votes
  • Mobilmedic May 02, 2010

    If your son DOESN'T have the video please describe to me the person, the chair, the van, and details of what he saw happen.

    0 Votes
  • gesserfan Aug 03, 2010

    Its a bit strange... you shop at one store, and are accused of stealing, and then immediately start shopping at another store and it happens again. it seems to me maybe the problem isnt the stores, its you shoplifting in your [censor]in power cart!

    0 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Jan 28, 2011

    The Piggly-Wiggly portion of this incident is NOT a shoplifting case. In reponse to your rude comment, gesserfan, it was a prejudicial case! Besides: now the Piggly-Wiggly store is CLOSED! What goes around comes around, and somehow, if it hasn't happened already, your masty comment is going to come back and haunt you!

    0 Votes
  • Ed
    edward hudson Oct 01, 2012

    I live in Evergreen Alabama where the piggly wiggly is the only grocery store, My family and have been using it for years. My wife and I manage a retirement complex of 50 apartments. All our residents use it to. We have a man that lives here that is legally blind I have been cashing his socail security check for years and also buying his groceries, I was denyed this morning at the store by the manager even though I had been cashing it for years at that store. This man is legally blind and can not walk very good this is why I have been cashing his check. I tried to explain that to the manager it did not matter to him he wanted me to go get the man and bring him back to get his check cashed even though this man can not see and does not walk very good. I again tried to explain that to the manager and it did not matter. I do not know what was different this morning. Like I said I have been doing this same thing for years. Ithen left his groceries that I had got for this man on the counter and left the store. I told my wife we would start driving 30 miles to go grocery shopping from now. They don t seem to appreciate our business. Thank you very much.

    0 Votes
  • Mobilmedic Feb 19, 2014

    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.

    1 Votes
  • gesserfan Mar 18, 2014

    Um, you can shut up. I am not the only one on here poking holes at your story. What goes around, does come around. I hope the next store you or your firned enter wise up and watch the two of you.

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    Joyce Steele Mar 02, 2015

    I purchased a variety pack of pudding and the pudding was hard when I opened it.
    I could not take it back because I did not have my receipt.

    0 Votes

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