For independent grocers and the wholesalers that serve them
This story illustrates the question that arises occasionally...."Should retailers prosecute "every time", tie up the courts, tie up our employees....for something like a $5.00 sandwich?
And to those who always say "we want to send a message to the community, is THIS the kind of message that YOU want to be sending? I'm just asking the question.....
HONOLULU (AP) - Nicole Leszczynski couldn't imagine that two chicken salad sandwiches would land her and her husband in jail and her 2-year-old daughter in state custody. But it happened five days ago, when the 30-weeks-pregnant woman forgot to pay for her snack while shopping.
Leszczynski, 28, and her husband Marcin, 33, were handcuffed, searched then released on $50 bail each. Their ordeal at the police station lasted a few hours, but their daughter Zofia spent the night away from her parents in a case that has sparked nationwide outrage and forced the Safeway supermarket chain to review the incident.
I live and operate my business in a town of 700. The next closest store is a 20 minute drive away. The provincial courthouse is an hour's drive away. I realize that penalties in the US are much harsher (although the comparative crime rates would suggest that stiffer sentences aren't much of a deterrent), but even still it's not worth my time to drive to the courthouse to see through a prosecution. Much more effective in my case is a trespass order barring the individual from entering the premises. In most cases, shoplifters in my store are suffering from mental illness. If anything, explaining to their families why they are banned from the grocery store forces them to come clean with regard their problem and hopefully seek help.
In the case of the Leszczynski's, if I believed it was a mistake I would forgive them and use some discretion. Then again, I'm an independent - Safeway store managers may not be in the same position. They'll have to live with the consequences of their corporate policies, good and bad.
Having been in the grocery business for over 40 years I have NEVER met a shoplifter that had not " just forgot to pay" and was more than willing to pay when caught. NOt much sympathy here for the parents. Too bad they included their daughter. But I still wonder if the punishment fit the crime.