More On Unintentional Shoplifting

So the day I post my own story about Absentmindedness vs. Shoplifting, Bad Court Thingy alerts me in the comments section to the story of a man who paid for $150+ worth of groceries, forgot the $4 worth of soda under the cart, and was of course arrested:

Have you ever accidentally forgot to pay for some heavy item that you stowed under you shopping cart? We have, too! Unlike one Cleveland man, however, we did not go to jail for it.

[Name Removed] has a long receipt showing the $157.20 worth of two grocery carts full of groceries that he bought at a Brooklyn supermarket Saturday night. After going through the self checkout, the man said he forgot a $4 case of pop under the cart.

A police officer working security at the store asked to see his receipt.

"I went looking for the receipt, the pop wasn't on it and they decided to have me arrested," he said.

[Name Removed] was arrested on a petty theft charge.

As usual, where commenting is allowed, morons prove they have access to the internet as well as the rest of us. (Or are ‘we’ in the minority?) A sampling:

Well, the article makes it seem as though he intended to pay. We're not getting both sides of the story, really.

Let’s see, the rest of the story – since we must always be fair and balanced – is what? “I’m the rent a cop and I can read his mind. I know this was not mistake?” another comment:

Actually that is one of the best ways to shoplift because most people don't suspect it and if caught give you the benefit of the doubt. Trust me I've seen it numerous times working retail.

I think we can file that under mind reading again. You’ve “seen it work”? Meaning no one has ever forgotten an item and walked past the door?

In Texas – or at least in Austin - most of the time when shoplifting under $50 is suspected, the person will be issued a citation. But not here. This lead to an arrest. Here’s a letter written by his wife about the aftermath of the arrest:

We are both shamed and embarrassed at what happened but it is a mistake made by a lot of us every day…after all, we are only human and our lives are busy ones because we have 3 kids, 2 of whom are disabled.

My daughter has Down Syndrome and my youngest son has mental issues. I am disabled myself…so my husband has a lot of daily responsibilities that most men would run from…but he loves me enough to stay and take care of all of us plus work as a home health care aid.

My husband is currently out on bond to the tune of $150.00…none of that will we see back. We lost groceries because they sat in the car for several hours while he was shackled to a bench at Brooklyn jail.

You see, I am disabled and do not drive so I had no way to get my groceries home. If he loses his job, we don’t know what we will do…see even if he is found innocent…the original charge will still remain on his record. So who wants a guy with a petty theft charge for a home health care aid?

Sounds like a worthy pro bono cause for some New York defense lawyer out there…

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Comments (12) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
shg - April 9, 2008 7:22 AM

Just to correct a few (typical) errors in the recitation of consequences. If the case is dismissed, he will receive the entire bail back. If not, and he doesn't warrant, he will lose 3% and the balance will be returned.

If the case is dismissed or he's found not guilty, he will have no record of the arrest or charge.

Since he only sat for a "few hours," it sounds like he was given a dest appearance ticket with stationhouse bail, rather than be arrested and charged. There may never be a prosecution, which wouldn't commence until the filing of an accusatory instrument. Frequently, when this gets into the ADAs hands at ECAB (early case assessment bureau), they toss it.

And if he should be prosecuted, there is a fine office called Brooklyn Defenders that will provide him with exceptional representation at no expense.

My work here is done.

jigmeister - April 9, 2008 9:50 AM

Jamie-Steve,
This happened in Brooklyn, Ohio, a suburb on Cleveland, so not sure what the law is there. Surely someone will take the case. Sounds like a quick dismissal.

Jamie - April 9, 2008 10:24 AM

Jogmeister:

I wondered about the reference to the 'Cleveland man'. Duuuuh.

Sorry Scott: you gave free advice for nothing. Oh wait, that's what free advice is.

shg - April 9, 2008 10:46 AM

There's a Brooklyn, Ohio? Can't they even come up with their own friggin town names?

Sheesh. All that work for nothing.

JT - April 30, 2008 8:04 AM

I have a friend in a similar situation from a couple of days ago - absolutely devastating. Happened in Queens NY. Can anyone recommend a good law firm and counsel in NY?

Vicki - August 3, 2008 11:50 PM

I was accused of taking too many coupons when I worked at Randalls. It totaled $1,000 and they scared me into believing what they said that I had conspired with people in Lakeway to see how many coupons I could take from them to help them save money. They fired me after making me sign a paper saying I would pay them back $1,000. I realized after I got home that I had done the wrong thing. The video they showed me was not any type of form to say I took too many coupons. They hired attorneys (retail recovery) in Florida. I was paying back $10 a month and this year I have had a very difficult time with finances. I just read the Texas Penal Code and I am concerned even though the Texas Workforce did pay me my unemployment and I won the case in that realm that they will try to charge me with a class A Misdemeanor. I am not that kind of person and never conspired with anyone in Lakeway to take coupons. I moved here from Cali in 2003 and I am thinking I should have stayed there. After going through a DWI here and I am still paying DPS until March of 2009. I am a good person. What is the extent that someone (Safeway) could try to do to me for the so called $1,000 coupon theory?

San Antonio Attorney - September 8, 2008 9:49 AM

There were a lot of incidents that is similar to this post, and most of them appeared to have not shoplift intentionally, but the truth is it's their best act.Shoplifters are good actors and psychologist as well. It's their craft. But still we give them the benefit of the doubt

Melissa - September 19, 2008 6:04 AM

Just 2 weeks ago I did something very similar to this. I have a 7 mo. baby, went shopping, bought a bunch of make-up etc. went through regular check out and paid. When I got to my car and lifted my purse/diaper bag a small eyeliner was under my purse. I went back into the store, went to customer service and I told the lady what happened. She looked at me like I was crazy and was almost confused. She later thanked me for my honesty and I told her that my life after this life is more important to me than a piece of make-up! What if they arrested me? Isn't it almost the same thing? We are all human. You can't read people when they are nervous and afraid of being accused of something they didn't mean to do!!! Come on. We all make mistakes!

Pam - November 2, 2008 2:39 PM

I think the retailer over reacted. Having been a former cashier; I've seen many elderly people do just that. I just remind them and they are more then happy to pay for it. They just forgot it was down there. Also, having personal experience on what an unjustified "theft" record can do to your employment opportunities, it seemed like a simple fix. Most people would hire someone with a dwi or dui on their record before they would someone with the word "theft". Even if that dwi or dui is coupled with the word manslaughter. It seems totally unfair. I don't believe there isn't a person out there who hasn't accidentally walked out of a store without paying for something at least once in their lives. Wether it's something their kids were holding onto, something they were holding in their hands, or a forgotten item under a cart. Out of sight is sometimes out of mind. It's what you do when you realize it in the parking lot that makes the difference.

Shoplifting Attorney in Los Angeles - December 15, 2008 10:45 AM

We simply cannot jump to conclusions when it comes to criminal intent, many people make the mistake of forgetting items. Good discussion.

Columbus Chamber of Commerce - December 27, 2010 5:25 PM

Wow, I can't believe they would go that far, especially considering his bill was $150. It seems obvious he wouldn't try to steal.

Robert - May 21, 2014 3:44 PM

I was at walmart trying to get some medication for granddaughter and was on the phone trying to get the right stuff but my cell started to die and without thinking I walk out of walmart going to my truck to put my phone on charger flat forgot that I had anything in my hand so got stopped by loss prevention tryed to explain what was going on and offered to pay for merchandise...but they refused and had me arrested for a 48 dollar product not only that but walmart has charged me 200.00 and gave me a life ban....and to make it worse when I was 18 was at the wrong place with the wrong people and caught a theft charge I'm 48 now and the state enhanced me to a state jail felony and so far I've spent 170 days in jail all because I was trying to get the right med for my granddaughter

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