There was a time not too long ago when it was normal for store employees to try to detain shoplifters and then
expect accolades for doing it. A successful nab would be the talk of the whole store, maybe the whole town. A superhero fantasy come true.
Times have changed, and besides, no one in our industry is a real-life Marvel hero anyway.
This was a risky practice even in the so-called good old days, but today it could be extremely dangerous with guns being so prevalent in our culture.
Recently, this lesson was driven home when one of your fellow UFCW members was murdered on the job in Los Angeles.
Miguel Nuñez Peñaloza was killed after he confronted a shoplifter at his Rite Aid store. We mourn his passing and keep his family and friends in our thoughts.
No one should have to fear for their lives while they shop or work in a retail store.
Retail workers already have been fighting an invisible and deadly enemy in COVID-19, but the murder of an innocent worker serves as a painful reminder that other dangers exist for our members.
‘Good deed’ could get you fired
Some may think that they are doing a good deed for the community and their employer, but chasing a shoplifter could get them fired even when they’re successful. Companies have rightly concluded that it’s not worthwhile to put the safety of their employees and customers at risk just to save a few dollars in stolen merchandise.
Sadly, some people still have not gotten the message. Union members have been threatened, stabbed and beaten while trying to prevent thefts.
In one incident, a member was injured while trying to record a fleeing suspect’s license plate number. Let it go!
We know of a member being fired when the company claimed he wrongly accused someone of stealing. Another was fired for pursuing a shoplifter’s vehicle and yet another was terminated for grabbing an item out of a shopping cart that was headed out the door.
If you see or suspect shoplifters, follow company policy and notify the person in charge of the store, but DO NOT take the issue into your hands.
Please review your employer’s policies on what you should do when you observe a theft or any other kind of illegal behavior in the store. Understand those policies thoroughly.
If you have questions, ask your union representative, then act strictly according to the rules.
Forget about being a secret hero, as cameras are all over the store and almost everyone has a camera.
You are not a police officer or a security guard or Iron Man.
Your safety and your job are too important to put yourself and others in danger.