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View Diary: Walmart Employees Kill Another Alleged Shoplifter (256 comments)

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  •  I witnessed a plainclothed security guard (20+ / 0-)

    take down a woman shoplifter, it was a little disturbing.

    The woman came tearing out of a downtown, upscale department store with a man hot on her heels. He tackled her in front of about 10 of us bystanders, screaming on the cold, wet sidewalk.

    It took we passersby awhile to figure out what the situation was, but then the clothes started coming out from her coat and handcuffs were applied. That woman was not going to get away.

    If something had happened to the woman, there was a crowd right there to see the whole episode and could have testified about the roughness of the take-down. In retrospect I see that the security guy was trained on apprehension, but still he was darn lucky that nothing went wrong...I'd have testified against him.

    •  I don't get it (9+ / 0-)

      You seem...disappointed that a security guard caught someone stealing and didn't hurt her so you could destroy his life.

      What was he supposed to do?  Yell at her as she ran away?  I mean, people like you certainly weren't going to stop her as you were apparently cheering on the shoplifter and waiting to high five a ambulance chasing attorney.

      •  I think you answered your own question (19+ / 0-)

        I think he has to yell at her as she gets away

        I don't know why I think this is the law, that they can't touch you to hold you back...
        maybe long ago had a friend who was mall store security guard...they weren't allowed to touch you//get physical.

        Somehow I always had that idea that it was a line they could not cross, maybe because they are NOT police officiers. So, when they do this, I have automatic reaction that they overstepped.

        Also, maybe becuase people are innocent until proven guilty. What if someone gets physical (choke hold) with someone who is not guilty of theft? You have someone tackeled...
        I guess if the guard SAW them take clothes...

        One time I saw young men (a pair) steal a whole stack of men's pants from a store table. I told the workers and the boys ran off and the store manager gave chase.

        It was on my word...another customer. What if I was wrong? do people ever lie about this?
        I once was accused by another customer of STEALING in a store and I had not (she accused me not staff).

        How often do store security not see the deed and rely on other witnesses? What if those witnesses are wrong?

        Maybe it's the innocent before proven guilty thing that bothers us in part about being tackled. Also, most men who work security are significantly stronger than most women. You do not have to be rough and risk injury to person (or self) in  order to aprehend someone significantly weaker than you are.

        If I had been tackled, with my bad back and rotator cuff tear, i'd have been injured...possibley for months. See, part of my sentence for shoplifting if I were ever guilty would not include physical punishment but that tackle helps that happen

        Security guard does not get to dole out (possible) punishment. that's the problem

        •  In short... (9+ / 0-)

          ... people paid to protect merchandise don't have the right to be judge, jury, and executioner -- or even arresting officer.  

          Personally, I'd pin a medal on a person stealing cheap crap from the Waltons.  They've done more to earn that merchandise than Sam Walton's worthless, lazy genetic progeny ever did.

        •  That's just silly, on the face of it. (8+ / 0-)

          The store owns its merchandise. All of us are empowered to physically stop other people from stealing from us. If someone pulls my wallet from my pants, I have every right in I'm sure every state of the union to chase the guy and tackle him if necessary to retrieve my wallet. Why would stores not have the same right. If the force used is excessive, the suspect can file a tort action, in either case. But why in the world would you think that citizens are not empowered to touch each other in order to prevent the commission of a crime?

          •  Not if they're dead. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grover, mamamorgaine, Miggles, mrkvica
            the suspect can file a tort action, in either case.
          •  your statement comparing what you would do (9+ / 0-)

            to what a store would do sounds like a corporations are people argument, well the store anyways.  I think a store should develop less violent ways to deal with shoplifting.  Walmart particularly, there is virtually no spot in a Walmart where you are not under surveillance.  They probably have the alledged crime on video, if in fact it did take place.  Walmart and its employees do not have to kill alledged shoplifters.

          •  Why? I kind of went through that as much (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            subtropolis, blueoasis, lgmcp

            as possible rather longwindedly, but wasn't sure. Citizens can touch but not assault. I don't believe I said Citizens can't touch eachother...if I did sorry to be confusing I don't mean literally. I don't know the legal definition of assault but if I did I would guess that we cannot assault. Especially, as I explained above, if we are not sure the party is guillty ...if we did not see it ourselves. WE do not know if the security guard personally witnessed the theft.

            I do remember though security guards being told not to touch customers...can't remember where. Assume that's stores abundance of caution not wanting to be accused of assault?

            •  The usual policy (0+ / 0-)

              is not to touch a customer until they leave the store.  This is because the crime is not actually committed until they leave the store without paying.  That is why they will not stop someone when they are putting the clothes under their coat, but will wait until they leave the premises.

              Under the law, there is a shopkeeper's privilege.  A shopkeeper has the right to detain a person for a reasonable time if s/he knows or has a reasonable belief that the person has shoplifted.  This is a common law principle that is quite rational.  I think some around here are confusing are willing throw out a sound legal construct because a yahoo got out of control.  There are legal limitations to the shopkeeper's privilege, but the notion that people should be permitted to shoplift with impunity is wrongheaded IMO.  Clearly, a shopkeeper cannot use excessive force and should be punished if s/he does.  However, to use the example above, if one shoplifts, one assumes the risk that you might be tackled to the ground and restrained until the police arrive.  

          •  seems unneccessary (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MichaelNY, blueoasis, Miggles, lgmcp, mrkvica

            There's a bit of a belief here that a suspect has to be caught red-handed, in the act of fleeing, for arrest to be possible.  But in practice, that's not true.

            If the police have a clear image of the thief, they can probably find him.

            Having said that, skilled security personnel don't need to do fllying tackles of anybody to apprehend a person.  

          •  it's not the security guard's stuff (3+ / 0-)

            full stop

            All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

            by subtropolis on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:32:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  How much would it be worth to you (8+ / 0-)

            to physically assault someone on behalf of Walmart? & the chain doesn't even want you to to do it.  Ten bucks an hour? Twelve? Who's gonna pin a medal on you for that?

            "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

            by DJ Rix on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:13:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  A little reading comprehension is in order (17+ / 0-)

        He was referring to the severity of the way in which the man took the woman down - clearly tackling her on the sidewalk, which could have led to a level of damage to the woman that far exceeded any damages to the store from her actions. There is such a thing as proportionality ... at least in a civil society.

        •  By not stopping, she was telling (7+ / 0-)

          the guard that if he wanted to get her he was going to have to physically stop her (which, when both people are running, almost always is going to result in a tackle). And she was engaged in the act of stealing as this was happening, so as an agent of the store he had every legal right to stop her from stealing. The only question to me is whether the tackle was excessive in how it was done. For that, you need multiple witnesses. And of course, people disagree on the definition of excessive. To me, the burden should be on the suspect to prove somehow that the tackle was excessive, given that she is the one that caused the melee in the first place. And that is the way the law works as well.

          •  And what if, by not stopping, she had been telling (11+ / 0-)

            the guard that she was deaf?

            Security guards are not officers of the law and are not legally allowed to use any significant amount of force. An attempt to grab someone by the wrist is generally allowed in most states.  Tackling, choking, and other injurious forms of excessive force are not allowed in any state.

            You are clearly trolling, but that isn't really a surprise, given your comment history.

            •  Last I checked I had 4 bars and over (7+ / 0-)

              40,000 comment ratings. But if you like to throw around the troll name when you don't like someone disagreeing with you, go ahead. I think it tells people more about you than about me.

            •  Not a troll. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kevskos, mrkvica

              Just a reactionary.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:06:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Your comment would have been just fine without (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              llywrch, ColoTim

              that last sentence.

              Should consider retraction.

              Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
              I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
              —Spike Milligan

              by polecat on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:25:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  You'll need to cite that law (0+ / 0-)

              "any significant amount of force" is not a legal term of art.  Perhaps you can share your knowledge of the subject since you seem so certain of your position.

              •  Case law makes it very clear (0+ / 0-)

                That these incidents are not legal. There is a reason Walmart loses these lawsuits. The cost of losing false arrest, assault, etc. cases is part of the reason other retailers don't have the same policy.

                Try google. It's your friend.

                •  You're confusing issues (0+ / 0-)

                  Yes, using excessive force is not legal.  And that is a legal and factual determination to be made by the court.  However, you made a different claim.  Shopkeepers have a right to detain shoplifters.  And citizens have a right to detain someone fleeing a crime.  Your lazy "try google" response shows the depth of your knowledge on this subject.  

                  •  I'm not confusing issues (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    happy camper

                    I was using descriptive plain language in a discussion forum on a web site, not arguing a court case.

                    The point is that Walmart employees frequently use excessive force in their attempts to detain people (which is why they have such an alarming death rate), and in the beginning of this thread, the implication was that tackling a woman on pavement was an acceptable way to detain her, despite the risk of serious harm. It was not. If the woman took the store to court, the store would find out how much losing an assault case costs (hint: more than any volume of clothing she may have tucked into her coat).

                    A store may attempt to detain someone using reasonable force. If, however, reasonable force doesn't work, they can't legally escalate the level of force beyond that point. Period.

          •  So, he could have shot her, I guess. (6+ / 0-)

            As long as it was only the foot.

            Or something.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:05:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, don't expect the union (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grover, blueoasis, 3goldens, lgmcp

            ti defend you. Because you don't belong to one.

            "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

            by DJ Rix on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:14:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Here's the problem the way I see it. (8+ / 0-)

            By changing their department (even if only in name only, which I'm sure it's not) from Loss Prevention to Asset Protection, Walmart (and other retailers) has changed the job description.

            Retail security workers used to work to PREVENT loss. They were the eyes and ears of the company. They knew the sales associates and kept lines of communication open so associates also took ownership in preventing loss. Being a presence and being a deterrent was a big part of that.  Of course, there is always shrinkage (stuff disappears, and you don't know why. Could be shoplifting, employee theft or inventory/accounting errors). But the idea is that loss prevention means we keep all loss to a minimum

            Asset PROTECTION is far more active though. It's not just about being watchful and communicating with sales associates. Inventory is no longer just "inventory."

            Elevating it to "assets" that need active protection changes the whole ballgame.

            Why has this happened?  Well, sales associates used to be part of the team. Now employees aren't important assets. They're interchangeable,  easily disposable,  and are there to be exploited.  So they're not loyal to the employer like they used to be. I'm sure, also, there are fewer loss prevention/asset protection workers than there used to be, but they're expected to do even more.

            And retailers other than Walmart work on lower profit margin because they have to deal with the Walmart effect. Target has to keep its prices low to avoid losing customers to Walmart. Macys has to keep its prices low to avoid losing customers to Target. Nordstrom has to keep its prices low to avoid losing customers to Macys. Even Nieman Marcus is more price conscious than it ever was, lest it lose customers to Nordstrom.

            So they're squeezing pennies out of every pair of socks they sell. Every sock becomes an "asset" that has to be actively protected.  In addition, at the same time, corporations have been told by society that they are free to do whatever they want.

            With this sort of mindset, customers who pocket $50 of inventory in today's climate is literally risking his life.

            © grover

            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 01:19:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Burden (8+ / 0-)

            should always be on the person who uses physical force.  Prove to us that the use of force was justified or pay the consequences.  Stealing is only things, force can hurt, kill and maim people.  It also can not be taken back; most stolen goods can be recovered.

             We have given society many tools to recover stolen goods and punish the thieves, physical beatings are not the tools we need to use in these cases.  That goes for your wallet too Doc2.  Hope you don't get shot trying to save your drivers license and five bucks some day.

            Use of physical force to recover goods is morally bankrupt.

            •  "Guilty until proven innocent" = Bad idea. (0+ / 0-)

              All the time.  Everywhere.  For all alleged criminal activity.  

              "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

              by netop on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:45:48 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Use of physical force to recover goods is morally (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:


              That is a foolish, naive position.  Sure, it makes you feel morally superior, but it betrays a lack of understanding of the day to day lives of many US and global citizens.  Frankly, it's a pathetic, self-aggrandizing attitude.  Try thinking about the consequences of having your entire paycheck stolen from you by a mugger.  In your squinting eyes, chasing him/her down and physically trying to retrieve the money to be used to feed your children, money that will not be replaced otherwise, is morally bankrupt.  How dare you wag your bourgeois finger at people who live with so much less.  

          •  Honestly, if I had seen the incident above, my (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Miggles, Mike08, gecko, mrkvica

            first thought would have been that the guy was likely a spouse abuser beating up his wife or girlfriend, or that he was maybe a rapist trying to kidnap his victim. The thought that she may have been a shoplifter, and he was a security guard probably would not enter my mind.

            When the guy pursued the woman outside, he was placing himself at risk because many people out there would view such an incident the same way I would--and might even step in to help the woman.

            If he had injured her, she could have probably sued the store for much more than the merchandise was worth, plus she could have probably filed assault charges against him, since he was just a security guard, and not a police officer.

        •  poor baby (6+ / 0-)

          If she doesn't want to get tackled then she shouldn't steal.

          To be clear - the Walmart people in the diary are absolutely wrong and should be arrested.  But I will 100% stand behind a security guard who simply tackles a shoplifter and handcuffs her.  

          Let's put it another way - if you were walking with your mom and someone grabbed a piece of her jewelry and ran off, would you just stand there and yell?  

          •  I agree. Why would anyone pay for goods if paying (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RationalistSF, MichaelNY, Boris49

            is optional.  If the worse that will happen is someone will yell at you march off with goods, no store would be in business for long.

          •  Inspector Valjean approves of your comment. (5+ / 0-)

            And if he had "simply tackled" her and inadvertently dashed out her brains on the curb -- what then? Would your applause be muted in the slightest?

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:10:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MKinTN, mrkvica

            Physical force is not a suitable reaction to shoplifting. It just isn't.  Dishing out a violent response as a reaction to a non-violent act is wrong.  Basically it's the same if someone calls me a name I am free to knock a couple of their teeth out.

            Ban them from the store.  Get a pic of them from the security camera and then call police to have them picked up. Publish their pic in the newspaper "Have you seen this shoplifter?" Sue them for damages in small claims court.  Anything but violence.  

            But tackling someone over items is stupid. Both the security guard and the woman could have been seriously injured...and for what?  A bunch of mass produced frocks?

            •  How then does a store stop shoplifters? (0+ / 0-)

              Posting pictures is not enough.  The store would then have to hire and train people to memorize photos to identify a shoplifter.  And then all they could do under your scheme, it appears, is deny them entrance to the shop.  It's simply a naive and impractical view.

              When one decides to shoplift, one assumes the consequences of breaking the law.  And one of those conseuqences is that you may be detained, restrained for a reasonable time, or pursued.  If you are injured in that process, you've caused it (assuming excessive force is not used).  For example, if a security guard pursues someone who runs into traffic and is killed, the security guard is not to blame for the criminal activity of the deceased or for the decision to run into traffic.  S/he could have allowed him/herself to be detained once she was pursued.  

              Again, I have to say, this notion that tackling anyone over items is stupid betrays a bourgeois perspective.  If someone wrenched an heirloom necklace from your 90 year old grandmother's neck and ran, it would be stupid to tackle the perpretrator to retrieve it?  

        •  Exactly right. The fact that this happened outside (9+ / 0-)

          the store in a public place was the thing that threw me and the others off.

          We all kind of looked at one another as to what to do: Was this a case of domestic violence? I see a man on top of a screaming woman (something I've never seen before nor since) I wonder if I should come to the lady's defense, or not. I could see the same calculations going on behind the eyes of others in the crowd.

          To collar a shoplifter within the store is one thing, but for unidentified security person to pursue a suspect outside in public is quite far do we let that happen. At some point it becomes a matter for the police to deal with...that's why cops wear identifiable uniforms, so that we know score.

          •  When I worked retail (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mrkvica, bleeding blue

            back in the Stone Age, our training was that it wasn't shoplifting until someone exited the store with merchandise they hadn't paid for.

            Our responsibility was to call security with a description and the general direction the suspected shoplifter was moving.  There were always undercover security people in the store - we didn't know who they were officially, but were generally familiar with most, and most were not physically imposing. In my limited experience, shoplifters tend to move slowly, I suppose thinking it doesn't draw attention to them.

            IIRC, security would call the cops and would shadow and if necessary attempt to detain the person, but couldn't use physical force.

            This was back when each department in the store had a cash register and 2 or 3 salespeople per department, but who could only monitor customers part of the time. It should be even easier with video surveillance, people whose only job is to monitor shoppers, and cheap radio or cell phone communications.

            In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

            by badger on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:41:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Call the police, write down information as to (9+ / 0-)

        what she looked like, make and model of car she got in, which direction she drove.

        What was he supposed to do?
        •  The store certainly had video too. (5+ / 0-)

          Retailers have a lot of that stuff for, you know, security purposes....

          © grover

          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 01:21:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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