Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

Re: Wal-Mart 'Security' Kills a Man For Allegedly Shoplifting Diapers

I have trained people in retail loss prevention & worked in that area for 3 major retailers several years ago. I agree the guy face down was miss-treated and WalMart, at some point, is going to pay bigtime for their agent's errors.
Policy for loss protection has changed / evolved over the years, since I worked in the field. Years ago we would actually jump in a company car and "hunt down" a shoplifter,...etc,...whatever it took to make the apprehension, and if the would be shoplifter got rid of his take, well let's just say that we were all "trained" to be sure a crime was documented and follow through with the arrest and court appearance,...even if it meant lying,...which is no different then what police officers all across the country do today. It was just SOP, standard operating procedure...
But those days are long gone for 95% of today's retailers,...I could write a book on what I've seen, me I've seen it all!
Back around 83 I observed 2 women fill a shopping bag with designer sheets at a store owned by The May Company. I was behind them on the down escalator when my hidden radio made a noise,...letting them both know I was on to them. When they got to the bottom, they split up and took off running in different directions. I ran after the woman with the filled bag of bedding. She ran about 1000 yards before I finally caught up to her exiting a Wards store as her accomplice pulled up in their vehicle by the exit door,...she opened the back door to the station wagon and the woman I was chasing tossed the bag of stolen sheets into the back seat. I dove in after it and she basically floored it and drove over both my legs in the process. I was in the hospital for 2 months. To make a long story short,... both women filed a law suit against myself, Hecht Company, (my employer), another store detective who worked under me, and a door sentry (uniformed deterrent agent) who worked for Montgomery Wards, (both of which assisted in the arrest),...for 5 million dollars, claiming they were both so upset about the "incident" they had to seek therapy to help them to have sex with their spouses. The claim was ludicrous at best. But after 2 years, and 5 "phone book" size transcripts of interrogatories later, May's insurance opted to settle the case for $55,000 ($50K to the woman who ran me over, another $5K to her sister who was the getaway car driver) who we never took into custody.
After that I decided it was time for me to make my living training store security personnel full-time instead of working it myself.

Today, I see all the changes which have occurred over the years. Given that,'s hard for me to believe that Wal-Mart knowingly condoned such behavior. Last I checked, their policy was to not peruse a shoplifter beyond 10 feet past the last set of doors. Lowe's (as another example) has a policy that states under no circumstances can any employee call 9-11 unless instructed to by a manager. I do get upset when I see the Wal-Mart "Dinosaur Patrol" blocking shoppers forward movement when the proximity alarm is triggered. Many states would deem such practice as a detainment and therefore an arrest. I'm pretty sure that has not changed,....but like I said, I have been out of the business for many years and policy evolves... BJ's "Shopping Club" is another example of a lawsuit waiting to happen. Rather then spend the money for electronic surveillance, they place dummy tinted camera balls in strategic locations and rely on the uniformed receipt-checking deterrent. It's a disgrace as far as my opinion. When I use to shop at BJ's, I would cause a flurry of activity when I would walk past the door sentry refusing to allow them to check my receipt. I've had them walk up to my car, block my forward movement, etc. I'm waiting for the day one of these poorly trained security guards actually puts there hand on me. I will be sure there are plenty of witnesses watching and it will get real ugly real quick...
So I too can sue and get $$$$$$, LOL! It's just the old school training I received from some of the top loss prevention experts in the country that makes me so arrogant. I do not want my kids to grow up and live in a world where you must produce proof that you are not a criminal. That's essentially what Wal-Mart and BJ's are doing when they block someone from leaving their store due to failure to allow a search of their bags and viewing of their receipt. I mean (correct me if I'm wrong), but I was taught that when you pay for merchandise and receive a register receipt,...that register receipt is your property and you can do what ever you want with it, You can tear it off when it's stapled to a bag, put it in your wallet,...or eat it if so desired. I say to any honest person who gets stopped due to a inventory control alarm sounding off,...just keep on walking. You know you are not a criminal and you should not have to stop and prove that fact to anyone! Those systems can trip for any number of reasons,... tag not magnetically disarmed at checkout,... heart pacemaker,...even spurious radio emissions can fool the sensors. Wal-Mart has another policy that disturbs me. Some states allow the plaintiff in a shoplifting case to recover up to 10 times the retail value of the stolen goods. Rather then prosecute the many iffy/weak cases,....Wal-Mart will often let the would be shoplifter go after signing a confession. They will say "sign the confession or we will call the police to take you to jail",...sign the confession, (release,...etc) and you walk... Then they send out a certified letter demanding 10 times the money of the goods recovered! That, my friend,...has all the earmarks of EXTORTION! OK enough ranting for now. Let's hear some responses to my ranting!

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