Feb 26, 2011

Portland residents accused of shoplifting five million dollars from Safeway

From the "Yeah, I'm not buying it" files:  Two Portland Oregon residents are accused of shoplifting over five million dollars worth of merchandise from various Safeway stores over the course of several years. 


The probable cause affidavit showed that Safeway began formally tracking the pair last November after suspicions surfaced they had been shoplifting.

Evans told police that the couple stole mostly common items like shampoos, razors, Rogaine, teeth whiteners, conditioners to batteries, DVDs and CDs, according to the affidavit, which also said that Remington stole DVDs on 22 different dates since November.

The court documents said that store surveillance cameras showed Remington involved in 103 thefts between Nov. 19 and Jan. 14, and that Evans was present in more than half of those incidents.

Investigators said the couple would go to several Safeway stores a day and shoplift. They actually used a shopping list for the thefts provided by a a suspect still being sought.

Safeway security officer Trent Drucker estimates that Remington stole $400,000 a year in merchandise over several years, totaling $5 million over the span of thefts.

Several things raise my bullshit detector here.   First and foremost, what took them so long to stop the shoplifters?  If you see them stealing, why don't you intervene right away?  If you happen to miss them the first time you catch them shoplifting, then the next time they show up, why don't you grab them right away, or at least as soon as you see them grab something?   Instead, you wait, and compile a list?   You allow shoplifting to go on over the course of several months while you conduct some wannabe Columbo operation?

Secondly, 5 million dollars?  Seriously?  This smacks of putting the estimate at such a high level so as to make an example out of them.   No one of sound mind and a reasonable intellect would ever buy that these people stole five million dollars worth of common items and DVDS over the course of a few years. 

And if they DID, then what the hell kind of mickey mouse security do they have at Safeway?   Plus, I've been to Safeways.  I don't know if their entire inventory costs five million dollars.

However that's not even the most outrageous aspect to this.   Check out this little nugget:

On Nov. 19, Safeway security officials placed a tracking device on a van driven by the couple. Whenever the van was driven to a Safeway, surveillance videos were carefully scrutinized.

In the weeks following, Safeway officials created a spreadsheet of locations and thefts, which they presented to Portland police. The couple was arrested outside a Safeway store in Portland's Woodstock neighborhood.

Wow, really?  Safeway is putting GPS devices on the cars of people coming to their store?  I realize they believe the people are stealing from them, however this is a gross abuse of authority here, and a clear violation of the suspects rights.  As someone pointed out in the comments section of that post, the recent Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court, ruled that corporations were considered "private citizens".  Therefore, Safeway, as user "Zeprulz" pointed out, " private citizen cannot record another person without their consent and a private citizen (Safeway) cannot track another person without their consent."

This will be interesting to see how it plays out.  Could these folks get off because of Safeway's illegally tracking them?   If they are found to have violated their rights, much like police officers who fail to get a warrant for a wiretap, their findings after the fact will be inadmissable in court.  They could theoretically walk from this.

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