Shoplifting arrest draws criticism from customers – Watch the video and decide
A routine trip to the grocery store tonight turned out to be anything but routine.
As I was walking into the store, I noticed a guy and girl who seemed to be scuffling. At first I thought it was a boyfriend-girlfriend deal. So I hung around for a second. If it escalated, I was going to call 911. Within 30 seconds, it was clear this wasn’t a domestic dispute and this girl was no victim.
It was undercover security officer trying to arrest a very uncooperative shoplifting suspect. And that’s when I started shooting the video.
What’s unsettling to me is how some of the customers react. They think the officer is too physical. And they’re quick to defend the suspect and scold the security officer.
Is it because he’s a black man and the suspect is a young white woman?
Would they have been that bothered if the officer was white and the suspected shoplifter was black?
You tell me.
Bottom line is the officer is just trying to stop her from leaving. And she’s defiant, trying to flee the scene. What choices does he have but to grab her and hold onto her?
He asked her several times to return to the store with him.
This is where we let the tape do the talking.
As you watch this video, here’s what to look for and listen for.
1. The cart full of goods next to the doorway that she is accused of stealing. (it’s chock full of stuff, said to be worth more than a grand)
2. The sound of her accusing the officer of abuse.. really?
3. When police finally do arrive, you can see her holding out her arms to show the marks.
4. The customer who storms outside to express her displeasure with the way the security officer conducted himself.
5. The police car driving away (and you can’t see it, but the suspect’s in the backseat wearing handcuffs. )
(If you are watching on a mobile device, click here for another YouTube format)
I would be curious what you take away from the video and how you think this situation was handled.
Some customers were outraged at Target! Personally, I think the lady is guilty as _____ or she wouldn’t have put up a fight like that.
So I say, way to go Target!
I can’t play the video
Thanks Natalia. I can watch on my computer, but it’s not showing up on my phone. Will check on this. Appreciate the heads up.
Okay.. just uploaded another format and put a link in the blog for those who are watching on mobile devices. That should do the trick.
Wow, Lori – that is some dramatic video. A couple of additional observations – how the crowd seems to react in slow motion or not at all based on the security person’s repeated requests for a manager and the suspect’s strong reaction to draw a lot of attention to herself.
How does holding a suspect who appears like she will flee the scene deemed “disgraceful behavior”?
It makes me wonder if I were innocent (not implying that this woman is) and being wrongly accused, how I would react.
Sasha.. I thought about that too. If a security officer tells me to step back inside the store, I am going to cooperate. I would be so scared I would want to do anything I could to prove I’m innocent. Typically, innocent people follow orders. Think about if you’re in your car and an officer tries to pull you over, would you take off? Target has so many security cameras, I can’t imagine they detain too many innocent people. That’s a stat I would be interested in finding.
Come to think of it…. I did get pulled over for jaywalking in California… and I tried to talk my way out of a ticket. It created a scene on the street. I raised my voice. But not for one second did I think about trying to run away. Once the cop uttered the words he was going to have to handcuff me and take me to jail, I fully cooperated giving him my name and address so he could write the ticket. (And yes, I did jaywallk. I just didn’t think I should be punished for it)
Wow. I cannot believe how the people that were yelling at the Target personnel were women. I just can’t believe how people would defend her and not assist the security officer who busted her. Too much drama in my opinion. She created “that scene” and people just fed into her being assaulted.
That’s right, Natalia. She created the scene! I am sure this outcome is not what he had in mind.
sorry to htnheraak you for helping clubs across the UK persue their interests.R.I.PDarrinRussin All-Round Fighting Federation UK
I was there and this video is missing the beginning of the altercation. I was just inside the window to their left when the altercation began and it began by him grabbing her and slamming her into the glass which rattled the whole window. Then he proceeded to punch her in the stomach with small jabs several times. I am not in the window in the video, so I know your video starts after that part.
Like you, at first I thought it was a domestic dispute, however, even after knowing it was a suspected shoplifter, I still felt the aggression of the security officer was beyond the pale, especially in front of so many shoppers including children.
Several of us stayed behind to give statements to the police that we thought it was NOT reasonable force. We may have had a better vantage point than you, though I’m glad you caught what you did catch. I hope they release the entire surveillance video so we can see it in it’s entirety. I am not hopeful though that it will show the level of detail needed to see the punches in her stomach because from all the videos I researched on the net, that area of the store is covered by a really wide angle camera.
If that lady was shoplifting, then she needs to be held accountable, I agree with that. However, in my opinion the security guard does not have the right to do what he did. And even if the police and courts agree with him and determine it WAS reasonable force, it was not a smart thing for Target to do. Many of their guests witnessed a man punching a woman and pushing her around. I did not see her hit him. She was only struggling to get him off her and after being slammed into a window and punched I would have done the same. He was short, but much stronger than her and it had nothing to do with him being black as you suggest. There were people of many races disturbed by what happened.
Target has corporate videos that show their state of the art CSI crime lab for shoplifting. They do fingerprint analysis and everything. He could have easily followed her out of the store and recorded her license plate number and called 911. Perhaps gotten her prints off the cart, or if he confronted her verbally she might have fled and left all the merchandise and they could have printed that.
From the many Target surveillance video shoplifting arrests on the net, there appear to be two methods Target employees use. First, they swarm with 2-3 security officers and escort the person back into the store, maybe grabbing their arms and dragging them back in. This seems reasonable to me. The guards have backup and control of the situation.
The other way they do it is to have one lone employee confront or simply tackle a suspect from behind who isn’t even fleeing, just walking. I think that method and what happened last night are not reasonable. Security officers are not police.
Frankly, it was a disturbing thing to witness up close, especially the beginning which was why so many people were upset and yelling at the guard to stop hurting her. If this is Target’s corporate policy for dealing with shoplifters, then I would prefer not to shop at Target anymore. I would not like to see that happen again and I certainly do not want my child to witness anything like that.
I respect your viewpoint and from what you did witness up close I can see how you might draw that conclusion, but please do not count others out who drew different conclusions and who may have seen more than you. What I witnessed appeared to be assault, no matter who the woman was. What the shoppers were trying to do was assist someone they saw in danger. They weren’t in favor of shoplifters. They weren’t anti security guards.
There is a reason why so many shoppers were appalled, it was appalling. Was it Rodney King? Uh, no it was obviously not on that scale. It also wasn’t the police, it was a guy with no badge, no ID and no back up slamming a woman into a window and punching her in the stomach. I would not have felt bad for her had he handled it better. But his treatment of her garnered sympathy from many around the incident.
Have we slipped so low as a society that we tolerate this type of treatment of suspects? What if he had grabbed the wrong person? What if she was totally innocent? What if she was confused because she was innocent and struggling because the altercation began with him grabbing her out of the blue and hurting her? Isn’t it possible she might try to get away from someone inexplicably attacking her? Isn’t it possible that someone could say they are security and then snatch your purse and run? Remember, he showed no ID in the beginning. She is innocent until proven guilty, and until that time her rights need to be preserved.
It was handled really poorly by the Target guard in my opinion. I’m sorry you didn’t catch that part on the video. Such is life. We can all agree to disagree.
I appreciate your perspective. But he obvioulsy couldn’t have slammed or her punched her very hard. She was feisty as heck… fighting to get away. Come on… Maybe if she would have surrendered from the beginning.. this would have been a non issue.
She is not a victim. She is a thief!
Again.. appreciate the conversation and different vantage points.
Well, he slammed her hard enough to rattle an industrial window. It was scary as heck for those of us sitting inside the restaurant area. I also appreciate differing viewpoints, but I do believe I had a much better perspective than you on this one, at least in the beginning. Maybe she did “play the victim” but what happened should not have happened in front of other customers and children, especially since the physical altercation was instigated by the Target employee. Had she attacked him, he would have had no choice but to defend himself and then the altercation might have been warranted. He DID have a choice whether or not to try to detain her. He had other choices that would not have involved onlookers. She might have fled, but I’m sure with Target’s forensic’s lab she would have been nabbed in the end and then we wouldn’t have had to see this.
And for the record, had it been a small black man against a stronger and aggressive white female security guard, I would have felt the same. Violence is violence.
How hard would he have to slam her and hit her for you to think it was too far? We all must have difference tolerances for violence. Mine must be a lower level than yours. Then again, you didn’t have your dinner disturbed by it and your child traumatized. I felt I had a moral OBLIGATION to tell the police what I saw and that in my opinion it was too far. It wasn’t her words that made me defend her, it was my own eyes. I would not have approved of uniformed police doing that to her either.
I really wish the beginning was on your video, but I wouldn’t expect someone walking into Target from the parking lot to just randomly be filming. I had a video camera too on my phone, but my only thought at first was there is an unidentified man punching a woman, we must help her, not to record the incident. After I knew what was going on, I still felt that it needed to be on record to the police what he had done. To me the violence I witnessed with my own eyes, right in front of me (3 feet?) with the interior lights brightly on them was far worse than a shoplifting offense. Two wrongs don’t make a right. She should be held accountable for her theft, if she is guilty, but he should also be held accountable for the use of force. At the very least to have it investigated since several onlookers felt it seemed too far. That’s not just me. That’s several people who witnessed the beginning. I just wanted to make sure that it didn’t get swept under the rug, that it was looked into and that Target and the police were aware that some people felt it was excessive. I can do no more, but I felt I had an obligation to report what I saw.
It would have been much easier to just walk away. I wish I hadn’t seen it. I especially wish my daughter hadn’t seen it. How do you explain to a child that it’s OK to assault someone because they are suspected of stealing? It’s wrong to steal. It’s wrong to hit. But is it wrong to hit if someone steals? Shades of grey. We’re just in different shades of the grey on this one I guess. But I made my statement to the police and I let Target know what I saw and that I was displeased by it. It’s out of my hands. I don’t ever want to see that again. It truly sickened me and the fact that you didn’t see that beginning part helps me understand why you weren’t sickened. He definitely eased up on her as more and more people intervened verbally. He was much rougher in the beginning.
The video shows me that there are a lot of people out there who really know how to “play victim.” She played it and the customers reacted. It’s sad, really. But I find dishonest people have no problem “playing” others and unfortunately many of them do it very well.
I can’t help but wonder if the races (and genders) were reversed in this situation how the bystanders would have reacted.
Interesting post, Lori. Good job.
The last thing I’m going to say and then I’m not going to read any more about this, or watch the video again unless the full surveillence video comes out, is that I find it really interesting that people who saw differing portions from differing vantage points have completely different viewpoints. It’s possible there was some other contact before he swung her into the window that warranted his reaction and that I did not see. If I had, I might have had a different viewpoint, but the only conclusions I can come to by what I saw in person, from the point where I saw it is that he used excessive force to detain her at least partially so. And it’s possible with more evidence that I might feel differently, which is why I wanted to ensure that an investigation was at least conducted where ALL available facts might be gathered and a determination made by an impartial 3rd party with access to all the info and it didn’t get swept under the rug.
Well, that and the fact that I’m still sick about it, my hands haven’t stopped shaking and I couldn’t sleep and I feel really sad and depressed that my daughter and I saw what we did.
Thanks Heather… it’s created a healthy debate and hopefully will lead to further discussion about protocol in dealing with situations like this.
I think it is fantastic that Lori did this. Nice work and great discussion by all.
My post is completely focused on issues not including the race, as those were covered above.
If the woman is found to be innocent, then she has a possible claim. Otherwise, she is a thief and needs to be charged with further crimes of fleeing the scene or resisting arrest.
Maybe this warrants a greater discussion of punishments for thieves. When are we going to stop with the nonsense that she was the victim of violence, if she stole. The guy was doing his job and she should have went back into the store, especially if she was innocent. He identified himself and going into the store is a safe place for her as a customer, so she can explain her side of the story. Sorry L, you keep talking about violence, and yet, as the parent of a 9 year old girl, I find 100000% more violence on tv, video games, in the news, etc. than what was displayed or even discussed on Lori’s video OR within the above dialogue. If you felt uncomfortable, fine, I do understand that, but if the woman stole, then she had a forceful response coming, and even if there was perceived excessive force, people need to know that resisting arrest, etc. is also a crime.
My lesson for my daughter: I will love you no matter what, but if you did something wrong, and you stole, then you need to learn the lesson.
I caught my 9 year old (when she was 5) taking candy out of the store after we had checked out. (I had told her we couldn’t buy it, but she really wanted it). I didn’t over react, as I knew she had never learned the lesson. I calmly pulled her aside, and I explained to her that she has to pay for whatever she wants to buy, otherwise, it is stealing and it is wrong. I told her to walk back to the register and tell the check out lady that she is sorry she took this without paying. To my astonishment, the check out lady said “oh, dear, that’s ok, you can have it!!” Wow, that made my job even harder as I had to go back and really reinforce the lesson in front of the checkout lady and say: She stole this, even though she didn’t understand completely, and I need you to take this back.
One final word, of my opinion: I took race out of my points above, but I do think that was a huge portion of the drama and I believe that is a huge issue in our society. How to fix it, I don’t have the answers other than to try hard to make a difference, like Lori did by creating the discussion.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your personal story. It’s funny… I discussed the kid witness issue with some co-workers today and we all agreed with you. We felt instead of focusing on the violence, how about look at this opportunity to teach your kids what happens if you steal. It’s a great learning moment and it’s really life. Much more memorable and effective than any lecture. Again, thank you for your support and Happy New Year…
I grew up in SLP in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This video caught my attention on youtube because I used to live mere blocks from Target.
L brings up some good arguments about vantage points; however, simply from seeing the video from when and where it was recorded I would have to agree with Lori. A thief is a thief. What actions would you take if a petty thief stole a grand from your purse or wallet? I bet you’d chase that thief down and do what is necessary to recover that which is rightfully yours. I know I would. Semantics in this situation need to be considered. No matter what gender, race or size you are, those who break the law need to be held accountable no matter the cost because next time, it may not be a retail giant that will be robbed, it may be you.
I work for a small local shop and part of my job is preventing shoplifting and catching those that do. I think this gaurd did fine. From the video she was obviously resisting him throughout the whole ordeal. If she had chilled out my guess is he would have handled her a little more gently, but with that said all I could see him doing was pushing her up against the wall and holding her hands. That doesn’t seem unreasonable at all. The only time I’ve hit a shoplifter was when one wanted to fight and grabed me by the neck. My safety was threatend and I think the responce was appropriate. This girl may not have been big enough, or strong enough to physically threaten the security gaurd but if she tried to scratch, bite, or spit on him I think he would be justified in hitting her untill she stopped. For most of the people I’ve talked to who have to physically stop shoplifters the fear of getting a disease from the people they stop is much greater than being beat down. From what we saw of this girl I wouldn’t be at all suprised to learn she tried to bit, or scratch him in an attempt to get away.
Alot of people don’t think shoplifting is a big deal, especially when the “victim” is a big corporation. What most people don’t understand is that a majority of the loss due to shoplifting is not sucked up by business owners or corporation but is payed for by the consumer. Businesses are usually not able, or at least not willing, to suck up losses due to theft and will raise the prices of the items they sell to acount for lost merchandise. Really that women wasn’t stealing from target but from the people who shop there. The little old lady living off social security, the single mom trying to make ends meet, you, me, and both our grandmothers are all suffering because of the selfishness of individuals who think they are intitled to take whatever they want.
Well stated. Couldn’t agree more. Did not think about the danger involved with biting or scratching. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.
Sent from my iPhone
I’ve worked as a Loss Prevention Investigator for the last three years, and have encountered this situation too many times. Yeah it sucks, but during too many apprehensions bystanders who have no idea what’s going on, and don’t know the applicable laws regarding force and citizen detentions try to jump in and side with the shoplifter (for whatever reason). We call these people “arm chair lawyers”, and sadly, they tend to want to defend the people accused of shoplifting instead of helping the guy trying to make the apprehension.
In California, where I work, Cal. Penal Code 490.5 gives private Loss Prevention personnel the ability to detain shoplifters (using force if needed) when we have reasonable cause to believe that they’ve taken merchandize without paying for it. Despite this clear cut law, we constantly get bystanders jumping in (usually when we’re busy physically engaging with an uncooperative suspect) screaming, “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH HIM! YOU’RE NOT A COP! ONLY COPS CAN ARREST PEOPLE!” These people feel the need to lecture to us how to do our jobs, because somehow they think they’re more qualified and knowledgeable than the actual professionals are who have gone through weeks of training on how to specifically deal with situations like these.
As for that lady’s comments about the LP guy shoving the suspect into a window and causing it to rattle: Windows rattle, they’re glass and it doesn’t take much. Lightly fall into a window and it will rattle, if not break. Just because you hear a loud sound doesn’t mean LP was using unreasonable force.
“Reasonable force”, as defined in California, is “the amount of force needed to overcome the suspect’s resistance”. Meaning if she’s a flight risk (she obviously is judging from this video), backing her into a corner and holding her there is reasonable.
As for Target having a “forensic lab” dedicated to tracking down petty thiefs: This is where I stopped taking that commentator’s opinion seriously. I used to work for Target (in LP), and I assure you we did not have a private forensics lab in the back of the store where we spent our time finger printing shopping carts and collecting DNA samples from our costumers so we can track down the perp who took a $10 Batman DVD. The idea of this is so ludacris, I have to wonder what planet she’s on.
Even when shoplifters do get away and we get a license plate number, it’s not 100% of the time we’re able to catch them from that. Often, the person driving the car is not the registered owner of the vehicle. Our local police department doesn’t want to spend the time needed to investigate to find out specifically who was driving the car for a petty theft case. Then other times we do know who the shoplifter is, but he lives 100 miles away, and our local police doesn’t want to spend two hours driving to their house to make a misdemeanor petty theft arrest. Or, the police do make the drive but the suspected shoplifter “isn’t home”. The cops aren’t going to bust down the door and search for them for a petty theft case, and they’re not going to stake the house out waiting for them to appear.
In short, if you don’t grab the shoplifter right after the commit the crime; they’re probably getting away. Taking down a license plate OFTEN doesn’t work in real life for such a petty crime.
In regards to L saying that LP had a choice whether or not to forcefully detain her: Not really. Your JOB in LP is to detain shoplifters. Shoplifters frequently run when confronted (it makes sense, no?). If you just let the people who want to get away from you get away, you have some pretty piss poor security. If he would have let a woman (not to be sexist here or anything) either overpower him or outrun him, he’d be hearing about it from his boss.
And i can tell you, she was guilty because he would’ve been fired for a bad apprehension….and he was not…..still employed with tgt😉