Grocery chain drops charges against sandwich-eating shoplifters

The supermarket chain, Safeway, knows a public relations blunder when it sees one.

A company executive at Safeway has decided not to press shoplifting charges against a Honolulu couple whose arrests over stolen sandwiches led state workers to take custody of their 2-year-old daughter, the Associated Press reports.

Marcin and Nicole Leszczynski ate a sandwich while shopping last week, and walked out of the store after checking out without paying. They said they forgot and offered to pay but company policy apparently forbids settling up in such a matter.

Their daughter Zofia was taken away by state Child Welfare Services officials. She was returned to her parents 18 hours later.

That touched off a national debate on whether law enforcement, store officials, and child welfare workers went a little overboard.

  • Jim Shapiro

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

    - Anatole France

  • D

    Overboard? Definitely. But what is it with people who can’t wait until they check out before they unwrap and start eating something? My parents taught me not to do that when I was a child. It’s not yours until you pay for it.

  • Jim Shapiro

    D – I eat stuff while I’m shopping all of the time, but I always tell a clerk before doing so. Never have I had somebody ask me not to.

    An exercise in personal liberty and communication.

    That said, sounds like your parents done good.

  • Mark Gisleson

    I think people reading about this for the first time are going to be very confused by your explanation of what happened. The couple paid for their groceries, but forgot to pay for the sandwiches they ate in the store. initial accounts had them saying they saved the wrappers so they could pay for them, but forgot by the time they got to the checkout. (They just moved there, it was a confusing day and, needless to say, taking a two-year-old to a grocery store can be somewhat challenging at times.)

    It was by all accounts an innocent mistake. What I don’t understand is why, when every fifth grocery shopper “grazes” their way through the produce department without being arrested, that store went ballistic over what clearly seemed to be an oversight. I don’t think this was Safeway policy so much as it was a matter of junior security G-men gone wild compounded by social services personnel without a clue.

  • Bob Collins

    // I think people reading about this for the first time are going to be very confused by your explanation of what happened.

    Hopefully, they’ll hang in there long enough — two sentences — to get to the link to the story.

  • frightwig

    Maybe they really forgot to pay, maybe not. But I think it’s too bad that a special exception was made for them and charges were dropped just because media ran with a pregnant mother’s sob story about how her young daughter had to spend a night in state custody.

    I think the state child welfare services should have a simpler process to allow families to quickly pick up a child in cases like that (as the parents were released within hours on $50 bail)–but the way that was handled isn’t the store’s fault, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the shoplifting case.

  • Jim Shapiro

    frightwig -

    Do you work in the penal system? If not, you should consider it.

    Yea, I know. You just can’t trust anybody. Especially those sneaky pregnant women with small children who just paid $50 for groceries.

    Maroon. ( Can I say that, Bob?)