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Angry over a stupid rule my company has


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Two customers told me that they saw an old man shove merchandise into his pockets. When the second one told me I watched him and saw him shove 3 bags of candy in his pockets. His (very baggy) jacket and pants pockets were completely bulged with stuff and I could actually see the stuff just by looking at him. They were store-brand products and there isn't another one of our stores for miles. So I confronted him about it, politely but with enough authority to know I was serious about it. He said he didn't do anything so I told him I saw him shove 3 bags into his pocket and that I could see the labels of some of the stuff without trying to really look into his pockets. A couple more customers even got involved saying they also saw him. I asked them to go get my manager because I didn't want to leave him so he can just drop the stuff and leave without me seeing him.

So he just walks out (the isle is near the door). Complany policy specifically states that I cannot keep the theif from walking out the door and if they walk out, regardless if I witnessed them stealing, to consider it over. It strictly says that if you do otherwise that you are fired. I'm just beyond pissed right now because of that AND the fact that five or six customers on top of the previous two told me they saw him steal and saw stuff crammed in his pockets after he left. I have really no choice but to obey the stupid rule because I need the job. Everything else about the job is great. Its just that I am not allowed to stop someone I KNOW stole things despite witnesses, would be fired if I tried, and the fact that the company would rather create rules to cater to theives rather than stop them.

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Well, most of the time you can't confront someone about stealing until after they've left the store. Because when they're in the store they still have a chance to pay or put the stuff back.

 

I can see your frustration though. It must suck knowing someone is stealing and not being able to do anything.

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let me ask - does the stolen property come out of your paycheck? if it doesn't, then i would let the company worry about it.

 

i would let your HR person know, or whatever the proper channels are - (And document this, write a letter) saying that you have seen Mr. John Doe (or whatever his name is) stealing merchandise on several occassions, as have other customers. list the items stolen, days, times, what he was wearing, etc.... just inform the management and let them deal with it. they may decide to ban him from the store, or just let him steal everyday. but i think that this is an issue for the managers to deal with. i know you are frustrated, but it's not up to you.

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This guy is a regular. He never buys more than 3 things and his pockets are always a little bulgy but not enough to warrent full-on attention like this time but barely (if at all) enough for suspision.

 

I know it isn't something for me to really worry about. I've just always hated when rules are made that actually caters to the theives and such while punishing the ones who care enough to want to do something about it. Makes no sense. Then again, since when has any business been accused of GOOD business sense?

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Actually, that rule is in place to help prevent employees like you from getting hurt by someone trying to steal something.

 

There was a recent incident where I live that was in the news. There's security cam footage of a customer very blatantly leaving the store with stuff he hadn't paid for and an employee attempting to stop him...first by just standing in his way and talking, and then attempting to use physical force. The employee was knocked down and the guy got away. The news story went on to say that the employee had violated company policy by making physical contact with the theif and also quoted a store spokesperson saying that policy was in place for the protection of their employees.

 

You don't necessarily know if the shoplifter you are confronting is armed or has some mental issues or is otherwise more dangerous than they appear. I'm guessin' you don't have proper training in how to take someone down without seriously harming yourself or the other person. Basically, getting physcial with a shoplifter is beyond the scope of your job. Were you to be hurt or killed doing that, there's a HUGE liability issue that the company does not want to deal with.

 

So, that rule is there not to cater to theives, but to offer you some protection AND for your employer to protect themselves from potential lawsuits brought about by those types of situations gone horribly wrong.

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^^^ yes, exactly what shes2smart said. and i don't know where you live, but detaining someone against their will might be against the law (unless you are a police officer placing someone under arrest). I can see why the company might not want you to get hurt over 4 bags of candy, right? it's not worth it. or any potential lawsuits should you or the thief get hurt.

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Right, but you do have the right to refuse service to a known thief. It's just rules to keep the lawyers from cashing in and employees who get hurt trying to be heros.

 

Talk to your manager. I'm sure you got him on tape, no? If he is a regular, and he regularly steals and costs them money, they might say it's fine to refuse him service.

 

That's if you care enough about it or think this guy is enough of a threat to bother.

 

This is the sort of rule a lot of places don't want customers to know about because it is so easy to steal if you know it.

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I know why that company has the policy. It is because companies have been sued successfully by people claiming their civil rights were violated. Because you aren't the police, you don't have the right to enforce the law. So you can't detain someone against their will, and if they didn't leave the store yet it is squishy in terms of whether they have actually stolen anything, and so on.

 

So it isn't that the company is looking the other way to stealing. It is that they don't want to lose even more money by being sued.

 

It is infuriating I know. But your company is in an impossible situation.

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No cameras or anything. All we have are our own eyes.

 

I know how to defend myself. I know 3 different martial arts styles, working on a fourth.

 

I know they want to avoid lawsuits. I even re-read the policy on theives and it indeed says I cannot do anything. In short: Keep him from leaving the store? Fired. Confront him outside the store? Fired. Accuse him if you didn't see him steal regardless of X # of witnesses? Fired. What if you saw him steal one bag of gummy bears and not all 4? You can only accuse him for stealing that one bag. Accuse him of the other 3? Fired. Accuse him and he walks out? Oh well, let it go and keep an eye on him next time. How is that last one impossible in my own store? I'm the only one on the floor ANY time of the day I'm working. No cameras or anything to help except my own eyes.

I honestly think this is a bit too strict. Especially when just about every store has no cameras installed except the new stores built within the past two years.

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No, because I basically told him I saw him steal and then he walked out on me. Basically "Be more careful next time youre stealing". Didn't do anything past that so I'm not fired. But I still think it is completely stupid how strict that is, especially when we have no cameras. So someone could get shot or stabbed and get away with it.

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Electronics and car stuff mostly. We have one isle for candy for some reason. Never saw the point since most people don't take their kid to an electronics/car store to buy a candy bar. Most of what he had were small computer stuff. A good $50 worth of stuff by how his pockets looked. I don't even remember what all he had in his pockets.

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Well, it seems like such a short sighted view by your employers. If you were dishonest, you could have all your mates trouping through and filling their pockets!

 

I do agree with Annie to try and get something in writing, if only to cover yourself.

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While I do agree that your store's policy is a bit too strict (i.e., the fact that you can't accuse someone of stealing additional items, even if you see them put other items in their pockets), BUT I don't disagree with the policy not to physically detain the thief.

 

Yeah, you probably could've taken the old guy, and sure, you're trained in martial arts...but even Brandon Lee couldn't stop a bullet.

 

The store policy is in place to protect their butts, as others have mentioned, but the by-product of the policy is that it keeps employees from getting hurt, too.

 

Still, the fact that your store lacks any kind of security cameras just seems ridiculous to me.

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This rule is applied by most companies for your own safety. People who steal can get very violent and hurt you out of desparation so the company doesn't want you to get hurt for two reasons 1) obviously they are concerned about your well being and 2) they don't want a law suit on their hands because you got shot/stabbed in the line of work duty. They'd much rather just lose a few dollars worth of candy. What you should do is call the police right away, provide description of the man (where he went/ what car he drove/ license plate) and let the cops do their work.

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We can't even say we saw them stealing at my store. We have caught the SAME man switching price tags over half a dozen times already (even wears the same jacket every time) and they haven't kicked him out of the store yet. It's so stupid. We might as well just put of big signs in all of stores that say "Thank you, come again, don't worry about paying if you don't feel like it."

 

What worse is that the government, cops, lawyers, and judges do the same thing with rapists and child molesters. I guess in this day and age crime is just an every day thing and the only reason some people don't do it is that there are a few (very few) good people left in this world.

 

Even if they do go to jail, they live a cushy lifestyle anyway. My dad works at a jail. Those little f-ers eat better food than I do! All they do all day is eat steak, watch TV, and get expensive manicures. What do I do all day? Work at a job that makes me want to pull my hair out so that I can pay the taxes that pay for their manicures. Man, I need to be a criminal.

 

Sorry, I just had to rant, but I think this is the right place for it.

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This guy is a regular. He never buys more than 3 things and his pockets are always a little bulgy but not enough to warrent full-on attention like this time but barely (if at all) enough for suspision.

 

I know it isn't something for me to really worry about. I've just always hated when rules are made that actually caters to the theives and such while punishing the ones who care enough to want to do something about it. Makes no sense. Then again, since when has any business been accused of GOOD business sense?

 

Have you ever tried going to court against someone? I made a legal complaint about something my mom's co-worker did to me. I got a short little like 5 point bulleted list of my rights and a three page brochure of his rights. It's sick the world we live in today.

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When it comes to most, if not all, businesses. I think it is purely them trying to cover their own a**es. Not because they are concerned about the safety of their employees, but the safety of their ability to line their pockets.

 

My store:

On a back-road. Road has no lights.

Store parking lot has one street-lamp that shuts off every 5 to 10 minutes because it overheats. Light is set right next to the side of the store. Doesn't even light up a portion of the parking lot.

Only other light outside are our two store signs which don't provide any true illumination.

No security cameras outside or inside.

 

Literally our only true "protection" is we aren't allowed to be outside by ourselves after dusk. Oh wow, such protection. I have nothing but 70-year-old women backing me up. Fear my back-up, criminal, for they sag, bag, and sputter.

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