blackhippychick

Falsely accused of Shoplifting Alert: Protect Yourself

In African American Bloggers, African American Blogs, AIDS, Atlanta, black blogger, black bloggers, Black Women Bloggers, politics, The Economy on January 13, 2009 at 9:45 am

As many of you may be aware of I was falsely accused of shoplifting at  Vision Works at Stonecrest  Mall in Lithonia Georgia  and accused and taken to jail for disorderly conduct instead.  If you want proof you can view what I was taken into custody for at http://drop.io/falseaccusation . In addition I will be uploading other articles related to the subject as time permits.

In any event I had to write this post today because as I’m doing research on the issue I became afraid not just for myself but for everyone who walks into a shopping mall, place of business, or retail establishment.  I am certainly afraid for folks to go to the mall that I went to.  In this harsh economic environment one should ask themselves if they can afford the  loss of reputation and the innuendo that can be garnered from a false and  malicious accusation that can linger with you even if you have not done anything wrong.  One should seriously weigh this issue before entering a retail establishment.  The facts are in this climate shopkeepers can utter any amount of lies about you they choose to.    The facts are also in that you don’t know who’s behind the counter and what their morals and values are.  There are actually immoral people working as shopkeepers, police officers, and security guards who will tell lies just for fun and entertainment or just because they don’t like the way you look.

If you have places where you have shopped for years without incident and others have too.  It  is probably wise to stick to areas like this but if people are whispering about a location and it’s treatment of individuals is questionable, it’s probably wise to stay away from there especially if you have an employer, are young and have a future or just have dreams and aspirations.  Furthermore the emotional toll and stress of being falsely accused and harassed is not worth it.  Finally the parents of Teenagers should keep their children away from establishments that have a history and record of doing bad things.

While loss of reputation is something that most people can live with, the loss of life is something that no one can live with because they are dead.  As I’ve been researching the issue of the falsely accused.  I’ve come across disturbing incidents involving the not guilty and the guilty that have resulted in individuals being beaten to death in the back rooms of stores and malls, people being shot in the parking lot, and many deaths related to individuals being wrongfully and rightfully accused of shoplifting.  I suppose if a person is a shoplifter they should go to the backroom and try to work it out  but if you are minding your own business, have never ever been accused of stealing or shoplifting in your life, have never been convicted of a felony, and only convicted of misdemeanors related to traffic tickets like me you should really hesitate before you go into any back room with anyone or even leave the spot you are in, judging from what I’ve read and what’s been on the news lately in terms of officers shooting people in the back, and just plain killing people without cause.  “DO NOT GO INTO A BACK ROOM IF YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG AND FEEL THAT YOU ARE BEING MALICIOUSLY TARGETED YOU MAY NOT GET OUT OF THE ROOM ALIVE.”

As for honestly what to do I don’t know, in my case I told the security guard I did not want to get out of the car but he insisted.

I am wondering if trying to call an attorney is even possible when falsely accused in a retail establishment.  Isn’t it strange that as citizens of the United States we have rights and can not be detained without cause or proof  but as soon as we step into a retail location evidently by the many cases that I’ve been reading.  Individuals give up their constitutional and Miranda rights when accosted by a Security Guard in a retail establishment.  Illegal search and seizure is against the law but because I was in the parking lot of an establishment the security guard could insist that I get out of the car with a gun attached this hip.

The following are quotes from blogs and other sources discussing the above issues.

The following post is taken from a blog called Civil Rights Watch


Many big-box retail stores have come under fire lately for treating their minority customers in a discriminatory fashion. For instance, Macy’s East was sued by the State of New York for discrimination in the form of racial profiling in its New York stores. On January 14, 2005, Macy’s reached a settlement with the state, agreeing to pay a fine in the amount of $600,000 and to retrain its security forces to avoid racial profiling in the future.

However, next to Dillard’s, Macy’s looks like Jesse Jackson’s Shirts ‘n More. Since 1994, six people have been killed in Dillard’s. Five of them were minorities. The deaths occurred in Houston, San Antonio, Memphis, Arlington (TX), Cleveland and El Paso. None of the victims had weapons. Some were accused of shoplifting; some had the temerity to argue with Dillard’s security officers about unfair treatment and paid with their lives. Two of the victims had, in fact, stolen goods from Dillard’s (one stole a box of sunglasses, the other stole a beard trimmer). Those two people were shot in the parking lot, after having made it out of the store. Though criminal behavior, shoplifting is not a capital crime in the United States and security officers are not empowered to act as judge, jury and executioner. Furthermore, alleged shoplifting does not give the officer-cum-cowboy the right to endanger the lives of all the other people in the mall parking lot as he shoots at his suspect-bad guy.

Dillard’s employs off-duty and retired police officers as its security guards. Because Dillard’s views these officers as independent contractors, the company does not offer them any training or guidelines, they are not monitored and Dillard’s does not conduct any checks into their personal or professional backgrounds. These are the security guards who harass, beat, strip search and kill Dillard’s customers. Dillard’s stands alone as the only major department chain to use off-duty police officers. The company still maintains that using armed off-duty or retired officers for security is the best way to ensure the safety of its shoppers. You be the judge.

The killings that have taken place in Dillard’s stores are too numerous for me to describe in this brief column. However, I would like to elaborate on one of the most spectacular killings, that of Darryl Robinson, of Houston, Texas.

On June 1, 1994, Darryl Robinson went to a Dillard’s in Houston, Texas. Darryl was not suspected of shoplifting. A clerk accused Darryl of demanding $1 million from her and she called in Dillard’s security officers. Other witnesses and family members say Darryl asked for a $50 advance on his Dillard’s credit card. Instead of escorting Darryl out of the store for causing a disturbance, the security officers took him into a back room and beat him. The officers, however, were not finished with Darryl Robinson; after beating him, the officers hog-tied him. The security guards had already handcuffed Darryl’s wrists and his ankles. But that was not restraint enough. The officers bent Darryl in half and linked the wrist and ankle restraints behind his back. He was tied like a hog. Witnesses say an assistant manager was seen riding Darryl like a “bucking bronco” when he was tied up. Darryl died, in the hog-tied position, on a rolling flatbed dolly used to move boxes. There were two possible causes of his death: either Darryl died of a heart attack or of what is called “positional asphyxiation,” meaning he suffocated due to the hog-tying, fear, and the weight of the officers sitting on him.

Minority shoppers at Dillard’s are not always killed, most of the time the complaints come from people who have been harassed and humiliated. The law firm of Chargois & Ernster in Houston represents over 100 plaintiffs across the country who allege they were subjected to discriminatory treatment at Dillard’s stores. For information on the most recent cases, please see this article in HispanicBusiness.com.

Finally, it is apparently as difficult to be an employee of color at Dillard’s as it is to be a shopper. For a class action filed in 1999, Dillard’s reached a $5.6 million settlement on behalf of African-American employees in their Kansas and Missouri stores.

Dillard’s is as dangerous for minorities as Iraq is for, well, everybody. For this, Dillard’s is the reprehensible first recipient of Civil Rights Watch’s first Retail Wil’ Out Award. I urge you to read the full story on the Houston Press about the retail catastrophe that Dillard’s has allowed itself to become.

The blog entry states that two of the killings involved people who actually had shoplifted something.  They state one man stole a box of sunglasses.  This by itself is believable but when you read the following it makes you wonder if items were planted on the individuals once they were dead.

The following is a shoplifitng rendition of a college student who was killed n Nashville and is at rest with the belief that he’s a shoplifter and a thief.  This account is going to be a lot skewed because it’s coming from the police department.  If you read my ticke at http://drop.io/falseaccusation . You will find the officer used words to skew the ticket instead of  just stating the facts, he made statements that can never be proven.

Metro Nashville Police Department
* Media Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29 , 2006

The shoplifting suspect shot during a scuffle with a Tennessee State Trooper in the parking lot of Hickory Hollow Mall Thursday night is identified as a 21-year-old Tennessee State University student from Las Vegas, Nevada. Efforts are continuing to locate his next of kin in Nevada. He is in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Trooper Aussie Thaxter, 41, who fired his state-issued gun one time, was treated at Vanderbilt for injuries sustained when he was dragged by the suspect’s car. He was released during the night.

Thaxter was working an off-duty security job at Dillard’s department store in a THP utility uniform when he was notified by an employee of a suspiciously acting man in the men’s department who was carrying several designer shirts and said he would be paying for them in another area of the store. While in Thaxter’s view, the man fled from the store to the parking lot carrying the shirts. Thaxter gave chase and ordered him to stop.

The man got into a Plymouth Breeze sedan that was backed into a handicapped parking space. As the suspect started the motor, Thaxter reached into the car through the open door in an effort to turn off the ignition. He was unsuccessful and the suspect put the car in gear and began to pull away with Thaxter still partly inside. Thaxter was dragged for about 20 yards before he managed to fire a shot. The suspect was hit in the neck and Thaxter fell to the pavement. The Plymouth continued on, entered a bank parking lot and came to rest against the bank building. A Metro officer who was in the mall was told of the commotion and rushed to the bank parking lot. He immediately radioed for an ambulance.

The investigation into the shooting is being headed by the Metro Police Department’s Homicide Unit. The THP’s Criminal Investigation Division, the TBI and an investigator from the District Attorney’s Office are assisting. The full investigative report will be forwarded to District Attorney General Torry Johnson for review when it is complete.

###

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The above incident is about a supposedly guilty shoplifter who did not live to tell the story.  However I was falsely accused of stealing.  I went to jail for disorderly conduct.  I was stripped down, I had to put on a smelly orange jump suit and was being watched every second by an attendant.  Not only did I pull all of my clothes off and put on others.  I was given a drug test, an AIDS test and had to give urine, and  finger printed.  I had to leave my car on the mall grounds.   Furthermore I had to give up my pocket book and everything in it had to be checked into the police locker.  I was stripped of everything. Finally I was released on my signature because I did not have a criminal history what so ever.

I say all of this to say that the circumstances surrounding the dead college student above are eerily similar to mine.  I was approached and accused of shoplifting while in my car, my keys were in the ignition and I was about to leave the premises.   The security guard was at my window what if I would have tried to just leave, though I could not because I was blocked in by a truck.  Would I have been shot and had a box of sunglasses planted in my car since it was a vision care place I went to and forever known as a shoplifter.

The parking lot killings are too similar I am wondering if anyone accused of  shoplifting and shot in a parking lot while in their car is guilty.   It’s too convenient.  In the first  quoted blog entry it’s stated that a man had a box of sunglasses and was shot in the parking lot with a “whole” box of sunglasses.  It’s beginning to look like people target individuals to kill and plant items on them after they reach their cars because one can not plant multiple items on a dead body in the middle of a store but someones car is definitely a good place to plant items.

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  1. The guy who got shot at Hickory Hollow Mall did not die. Maybe you should do some research before you post these things.

  2. The great thing about a blog is that we can move it in any direction we want. I applaud you for taking the steps you’re taking. I haven’t had a similiar experience so I cannot add to your collection of stories.

    I just wanted you to know that you have support!

    peace, Villager

  3. I was falsely accused of placing items in my purse. The security guard approched me outside the store and ask me to come back to the store. I was asked to pay for the items, (he neves asked to search my purse) and I said that I was not going to pay for something that I didn’t have. After 10 minutes of asking me to pay and also saying ugly things to me, I yelled at him and handled my purse. When he didn’t find anything, he asked me to leave the store, I was too scared to leave, I thought he was going to accused me of fleeing the store, so I said that I was going to wait for the police to arrive (all the time he has said that he was going to call the police).
    I’m 48 years old, had raised 3 kids, one is a college graduate, traveling the world, the other one is in college and my youngest in HS. Never in my life had any incident like this. To this day I’m afraid to go to stores, even the supermarket. This incident happened over a year ago. I was clear of all wrong doing, but I had to hire a lawyer. The store…KHOLS

  4. I was also just falsely accused of shoplifting today. I was shopping with a freind at Dillards. My freind took about 8 items into a fitting room and I would wait outside while she would ask me to come into the room to see the outfits that she was trying on. She ended up buying two of the items and then we left the area to view another department. I noticed shortly after that feeling like I was being followed. I notice a large, tall security guard following me. We start to head to different departments to see if he continued. I was followed around the store for 20 minutes by him and he contined to tell me he wasn’t “following me” after being asked. He made me and my freind extremely uncomfortable and followed us around the entire store until I walked out the door after reporting the guard to a manager. Once I stepped foot outside Dillards, he asked me to go back inside and that he needed to check my bag. I told him no and he insisted so I cooperated and told me we needed to go upstairs so he could ask me some questions. After questioning this, I agreed and was lead into a backroom with the guard, 2 other security men and a manager. I walked into the room and one of the “Camera guys” starts yelling at me and telling me that he needs me to show him my purse so I throw it down and show him that there is NOTHING in my purse. He continues to say how they have been watching me go in and out of a dressing room and that my purse “mysteriously” got bigger after leaving the fitting room. After he sees that they are completely wrong and I have NOTHING, instead of apologizing he continues to say that I probably “dropped the clothes off in another department.” I was continuously followed from 10 feet behind by this guard ever since I left teh clothing department so this was a complete lie. The stupid camera guy also saying I was ” on camera” could not prove that I ever had anything nor show that I put anything down in teh store. I know they were completely wrong in every way they handled this situation. They had no composure or respect, nor any sense that they could be in the wrong. Not one person apologized for their mistake. I did abosolutely nothing wrong and they had no proof of me stealing and they continued to yell at me. I have never felt so mistreated and violated as a faithful law abiding citizen and retail custimer. I am having a meeting with the store head manager to demand an apology for the lack of correct procedures, professionalism, and respect from these employees. I will never shop at Dillards again and feel that I will make it a point to investigate consumers rights and help put an end to this kind of wrongful mistreatment becuase of the foolish mistakes that were made.

  5. I am so sorry this happened to you two. We are seeing a common thread of wrongful detainment and a blatant violation of the constitutional rights of others. People sat in at lunch counters to prevent this from happening and here we are again. In my case being harassed by the same race of people who my mother sat in at a lunch counter for and went to the March on Washington to protect. This is a Human Rights issue.

  6. I was falsely accused of shoplifting from Dillard’s in Shawnee, OK last December. I had looked at a extra large white hoodie in the men’s clothing department. After contemplating the purchase, I decided against it and set the item down. I browsed the store for about another fifteen minutes but didn’t find anything I was interested in purchasing. I left the store and began walking to my car. A lady came running behind me, yelling that I needed to come back into the store. I have never shoplifted or been accused before, so it didn’t even cross my mind that I might be being accused of something. I thought something must have fallen out of my purse as I was digging my keys out of it and that was why she was trying to get my attention. She yelled again, “M’am, you need to come back into the store!” I was walking towards her and I said, “why?” and she yells (we were still quite a distance away from one another), “Because you have stolen merchandise in your bag.” The parking lot was full of people this day and people began to watch. I have observed a “shoplifter” being “caught” before and I know that it is difficult not to notice when something like that is going on. I said, “No, I don’t!” and she said, “Yes you do. A white men’s hooded sweatshirt.” By this time we were standing near one another so I opened my purse to show her that there was nothing in it except my wallet and some other junk. I thought this would prove my innocence and this incident would be over. She says, “well what did you do with the hanger that you just had in your hand?” I said, “I never had a hanger.” She insinuated that I had dumped the merchandise in the bushes outside of the store. I told her that I had set it back down in the store. She said that I had to come and show her. As we were entering the store, I said that I couldn’t believe that I was accused of this. She said something like, “well, if you aren’t guilty, then why are you so defensive?” and I said, “Because I didn’t steal anything! And this is so rude!” she continued to make rude remarks as I took her back to the place where I had set the sweatshirt down. She was on her walkie talkie the whole time, being quite loud and discussing me. She insisted that I walk in front of her as she trailed very closely behind. There were a lot of shoppers in the store (christmas season) and they were all watching me. Before we got to the department, another lady from Loss Prevention comes over the walkie and says they have found the sweatshirt. She continues to make me walk until the other lady comes around the corner with the sweatshirt. All of this time she has been making little remarks to me and then she turns to me, gives me a sick smile and says, “You are free to leave now.” No “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” or anything like that. I was so confused and disoriented that I just turned around and left. I got in my car and began to get very upset. I called the manager who was nice but sounded like he wasn’t going to do anything. Finally, I told him that I was going to go above his head and then he asked me what he had to do to make this right. I said that I simply wanted it to never happen to anyone again. He wanted my address to send me some coupons but I wasn’t interested. He kept saying that he had to do something to make it right (no doubt so he did not get in trouble from someone above him) so I finally told him my address. He was a very helpful and nice manager but, at the end of the day, I doubt he even reprimanded the employees involved. I never recieved anything anything in the mail, which was fine because at the time I never planned on shopping there again so it would have been a waste, but I’m not sure why he needed my address. I ended up going back once because I was with a friend who wanted to go and I thought I might be over it, but I kept feeling like people were watching me so I left after a couple of minutes.

    Recently, I have dreamed a few times that I have been in this kind of situation again. I would definitely handle it differently next time but I wonder what the proper response would be. Of course I would never offer to let them look in my purse again. I feel that this is a violation of my privacy. I would not let them force me back into the store because I feel this is illegal detainment. I’m not sure how one should handle this sort of thing and I am sure it varies by state.

  7. I was at Dillard’s & was falsely accused of shoplifting. I made a purchase & swore the cashiers put the receipt the bag & visited another department. I then saw other items I would have liked to purchase & took those items into a dressing room. After leaving the dressing room I was asked to go into a back room & everything I had was searched. Because I items in my purchased bag didn’t have some tag Dillard’s employees are supposed to put on purchased items and I left un-purchased items off the hanger I was accused trying to conceal to shoplifting even with the items in my bag matching the cashier original receipt. Now I’m on my way to Court next month…DO NOT SHOP AT DILLARD”S IF YOU ARE BLACK!!

  8. My wife was accused and arrested for shoplifting at Dillards. She was returning and exchanging items. Apparently the sales clerk had failed to put the pop lables on the items she had purchased. We had proof of purchase recipts but the Dillards management refused to accept them before during or after the court hearing. Eventually the judge dismissed the case. However Dillards refuses to own up to their error. Several law firms advised us it was a waste of time to try to take them to court. Note we are both white but the securuty staff and store manager are AA. Dillards did not return the items or offer any refund. The total of the items purchased was about $900.

  9. Hello. I am currently in a lawsuit with a Major department store which I will not name here due to the fact the case is now in discovery. First let me state I am white and I used to work at this department store 10 years prior to this incident. I have a 100% clean record. I was followed out of the store in question, accused of stealing a pair of jeans, and assaulted by a ‘security’ officer from the store. I gave her a warning to take her hands off me and she didn’t abide. I defended myself and after her slamming me on a hard marble floor she put me in cuffs and took me too the ‘back room’ against my will and slammed me against the wall back there also. Within 2 minutes I was released. I attempted to flag down the police for help but they didn’t want to help me. Instead they attempted to entrap me into getting upset so they could find a reason to take me to jail. Didn’t work.

    —- I feel for everyone who has been falsely accused…black white hispanic everyone. Yes I feel I was targeted too by the way I look. I was dressed down that day and look alot younger than I actually am. Yes I was targeted. Now I fear shopping. Everywhere I go I feel I am being followed.

    — I will endure this entire ordeal until these bastards learn a lesson. You need to have … “PROBABLE CAUSE” before you accuse someone ‘ of shoplifting. There is more to it…read up everyone. Learn your rights as a citizen. They aren’t going to get away with it as long as I have something to do with it. Everyone who has been falsely accused…. I represent you. Stay tuned.

  10. Recently, I had a similar BAD experience at Wal-mart. I will NEVER shop there again. Since I wouldn’t go into the back room (safety reasons, single woman) they called the police. I was arrested without any proof only the TWO obviously “opinionated” and racial people. I am White, they were black and Hawaiian. Go figure. I had just paid for merchandise in cash totaling over $140 and had $400 cash in my purse. Long story, I had NO RIGHTS. Got hauled off to Hawaii jail in handcuffs. What a site….a little old lady riding in a police car.

    I will call WalMart corporate next as the store manager in Hawaii said they followed policy….what policy? I asked for a manager, and couldn’t even get one. The wantabe security didn’t even had a camera that worked and couldn’t even take my picture, which why do they have the right to? As with all BIG companies, I’m sure I will get no where, but frustrated.

    It seems that our constitutional rights disappear every day.

    When I finally called the store manager back in Hawaii, Earl, he said I would NOT be allowed to have my accusers name! What?

    Amazing. I will NEVER shop at Wal-mart again. NO MATTER what their price is…..

    Now I have to plead guilty (forget the fancy legal term) or have a trial date set. So much for the cost of flying back to Hawaii. I refuse to plead guilty, but I guess at 60 it won’t matter. I might be dead before I get a trial date…

    Thanks for the great blog….citizens should unite against “loss prevention” want a be cops.

  11. Congradulation on bringing to public attention, the nefarious acts of “security guards” that are employed by the large mercantile establishments. Clearly, state law in many states is not protecting the public from the misuse of the merchants privledge. It is also demonstated that there is enormous abuse of the civil recovery laws on pilferage. Also the major retailers deceptively inflate the true value of any merchandise they believe is pilfered. Keep up the good work of informing the public — share with your state legislators.

  12. As a former big box retail Mgr. and minority I can testify that all these thing really do happen and I would also like to advise future victims that it approached by store personal and falsely accused, you should call the cops and request there presents furthermore inform the store personal that you will comply put only when the police arrive and when they do let them check you and while they are checking you inform Store personal that you will Pursue with civil suite .

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