If you’re planning to swipe stuff from the Home Depot, you might consider visiting the Midwest City store, which recently fired four staffers for catching thieves:
A former Home Depot employee said the company fired he [sic] and three other workers because they helped police catch several suspected shoplifters in May. Midwest City police said the men helped officers catch suspected shoplifters as they tried to run from a store with lawn equipment.
An internal memo from Home Depot outlines that associates cannot accuse, detain, chase or call the police on any customer for shoplifting. However, one of the fired employees said the company is selective in enforcing that policy.
One has to assume that this is due to fear of litigation: the company presumably doesn’t want to be sued by someone falsely accused. (Or, for that matter, by someone who isn’t falsely accused but figures he can impress twelve people who couldn’t figure out how to get out of jury duty.) The price of that fear: thieves having free run of the place, and employees catching flak for low loss-prevention scores that they’re not allowed to do anything about.
And it’s not like there was a whole lot of doubt in this particular case:
“We saw them with the merchandise. We saw them run out of the store. I never kept my eyes off of them. Then when we asked them for a receipt, and that’s when they dropped the merchandise and they kept running. One guy still had a chainsaw while he was running, and that’s when the cops tackled him.”
Down the street at Circuit City a few months back, a chap was reprimanded for having the temerity to pursue a couple of urchins who were trying to make off with a brace of Xbox 360s.
Is there a solution to this? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone’s quite ready for arming the entire store staff. On the other hand, a trail of dead shoplifters might have some small but measurable deterrent value.