By John Friend
A troubling trend has emerged in recent years wherein large mobs or smaller groups of brazen criminals will stroll into a business, steal as many goods as possible, and leave.
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Images have emerged from cities across the country of mobs of “youths”—a media euphemism concocted to conceal that this phenomenon is largely carried out by black perpetrators—looting or shoplifting items from high end luxury stores, convenience stores, and large department stores. Even individual shoplifters are getting in on the action, often with little or no consequences.
In one striking example, a CNN reporter was at a local Walgreens store in a posh part of San Francisco to highlight the problem facing retail stores of all sizes. This particular Walgreens was known as the most robbed Walgreens store in the country. As the CNN reporter was filming her report, no less than three individuals engaged in shameless shoplifting, simply walking out of the store with products without paying as employees and other shoppers watched.
“In the 30 minutes we were there, we watched three people steal,” CNN’s Kyung Lah said in the video report that has gone viral online.
The savage criminal conduct has left employees of such establishments in a bind—how should they respond to such brazen lawlessness committed in such an open fashion?
Donna Hansbrough, a 68-year-old longtime employee of Lowe’s, the massive home improvement chain, recently took matters into her own hands and confronted a group of shoplifters who were attempting to steal roughly $2,000 worth of merchandise. Hansbrough attempted to grab one of the thieves’ shopping carts, which was filled with looted products, prompting the thief to violently attack the loyal employee, striking her in the face repeatedly.
The 13-year veteran of Lowe’s told local media that she simply “got tired of seeing things get out the door.”
“I lost it,” she exclaimed. “I basically lost all the training. Everything they tell you to do, I just lost it.”
Hansbrough was referring to Lowe’s shoplifting policy, which limits what employees can do when encountering shoplifters. Shortly after the incident, Lowe’s fired her for violating the company’s policy on stopping the theft of merchandise. However, after public backlash, Lowe’s offered Hansbrough her job back.
“After senior management became aware of the incident and spoke to Donna today, we are reinstating her and we are pleased that she has accepted the offer to return to Lowe’s,” a corporate spokesperson said in a statement to local media in Georgia, where Hansbrough worked.
“They say that if you see somebody stealing something out the door, not to pursue, not to go out,” Hansbrough said when describing what transpired. “I grabbed the cart. I don’t actually remember going out, but I did. And I grabbed the cart that had the stolen items in [it].”
Police later identified the three suspects as Takyah Berry, who violently assaulted Hansbrough, Jarmar Lawton, and Joseph Berry.
After being terminated, Hansbrough told local media that she “loved her job” and that “I enjoyed working with the people I worked with.” She added,“I enjoyed helping the customers. I enjoyed everything about it. You know how you have your perfect job? That one was mine.”
Commercial outlets and their employees are increasingly in difficult situations as rampant shoplifting and theft continue to increase across the country. Hansbrough’s brave response to the brazen shoplifting incident is understandable, even commendable. However, putting oneself in harm’s way is simply unwise in modern America, where you will stand more of a chance of negative repercussions than the actual criminals engaged in theft.