business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times has a story about how some retailers appear to be going too far in their efforts to prosecute shoplifters. Way too far.

Here’s how the Times frames the story:

“Crystal Thompson was at home watching the Rose Bowl parade when a county sheriff came to arrest her for shoplifting from the local Walmart.

“Ms. Thompson, 43, was baffled and scared. An agoraphobic, she had not shopped at a Walmart in more than a year. She was taken to a Mobile jail, searched, held in a small room and required to remove her false teeth, something she didn’t even do in front of her husband.

“Four days after she returned home, the letters from Walmart’s lawyer started to arrive. The lawyer demanded that Ms. Thompson pay the company $200 or face a possible lawsuit. She received three letters over two months in early 2016.”

The Times notes that many shoplifting laws “were established so retailers could pursue shoplifters without clogging up the courts. Retailers, though, often move on both fronts, pressing criminal charges against suspects, while demanding that they pay up before cases are resolved.” The result can be innocent people caught in the system, with retailers “playing games with people’s futures” and far from sympathetic about unintended consequences.

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View: