Big Retail Chains Dun
Mere Suspects in Theft
Demands for Money
Can Leave Targets
With Little Defense
By ANN ZIMMERMAN
February 20, 2008; Page A1
After Miami handyman Glenn Rudge was accused of shoplifting an $8 set of drill bits at Home Depot, he thought he'd settled the matter when he showed his receipt to prosecutors and they dropped the charge.
But a few weeks later, a law firm hired by Home Depot began sending him letters demanding first $3,000, then a total of $6,000, implying he'd be sued if he didn't pay it.
In an escalating battle against theft, retailers are going after anyone suspected of shoplifting, turning over their names to lawyers and collection firms, who pursue the suspects for stiff penalties and split the take with the retailer. ...
From the Wall Street Journal (link, and H/T Froomkin). I mean, we can stipulate that this is crude, vulgar goon-squad tactics and I certainly hope it violates a half a dozen laws.
But who authorized this? Back when I (thought I) knew anything about this stuff, the fact of life was that you knew you had to tolerate a certain level of shoplifting. Getting to zero was not cost justified: too many cops and too many patdowns and too many pissed-off customers. And now we are on the front page of the WSJ, as the poster child godzilla of bully-boys. Aren't there any grownups at Home Depot any more?