Picture this: you’re in the store with your partner and your twins. You get up to the cash register and realize you forgot something. So while your sweetie and your kids finish checking out, you run back and grab the forgotten item. Rather than rejoin the line, you quickly check yourself out through a self-service register and meet them at the front of the store.
Happens all the time, right? This is not exactly suspicious behavior.
But when Joe Paolucci and Thomas Hitchcock tried to leave their local Wal-Mart with their boys after doing just that, they were detained by store security.
First, they were asked to show a receipt for the stray item (a pack of Bic lighters) that Joe had gone back into the store to pick up. Fine. He showed them the receipt. Now everyone can go home, right? Wrong.
Instead, store employees harrassed them and demanded that they go into a secluded area in the back of the store, without their kids. They were separated from each other and police were called. One of them was handcuffed.
After 45 minutes of this ordeal, the police confirmed that the couple had done nothing wrong. Security video clearly showed them paying for all the items they took from the store.
Wal-Mart bungled their opportunity to apologize gracefully though. Instead a store employee read a formal statement to the family, banning all of them (including the kids!) from all Wal-Mart stores forever. Not like they were really planning to come back for more great customer service, I’m sure.
To add furthur insult to injury, the mega-corp later sent them a letter demanding that they pay restitution for the lighters, more than ten times the original cost. That might almost seem like a fair penalty if they had ever shoplifted them to begin with.
Apparently Shopping While Gay isn’t all that safe at Wal-Mart. So much for their commitment to diversity.