In what is apparently their smartest decision in the past week, Safeway has decided to drop charges against a couple who was cuffed and arrested and had their child taken away after they say they forgot to pay for some sandwiches they snacked on while grocery shopping.
As Stephanie Precourt reports over on Strollerderby, Safeway has dropped charges of of 4th degree theft and petty misdemeanor against Nicole Leszczynski and her husband, Marcin. Apparently a Safeway division president also called the family yesterday and apologized for what they’d been through.
Leszczynski tells Right This Minute, “were both pretty relieved about the charges being dropped. That was our biggest concern after getting our daughter back…I feel vindicated that there were some missteps, to put it lightly, on their side. While they didn’t offer me a full apology he pretty much said that employees had to follow a uniform procedure of contacting the HPD.”
Smart PR move, Safeway. But the damage is done. As I reported yesterday, the couple was cuffed and taken to jail and their 2-year-old daughter Zofia was taken by Child Services, separating the family for 18 hours. A Safeway spokeswoman says the store manager was simply following protocol and didn’t know the couple’s child would be taken away.
As I said, I think the power-tripping store manager is an idiot, but surprisingly, to me at least, reaction has been mixed. As the Washington Post reports, a lot of folks say the Lesczcynskis are thieves who deserved to be arrested.
Some of the comments:
“The law is the law. If you don’t like it, change the law.”
“Overkill? Sure. But the argument that because she’s pregnant and/or had a hungry kid along is ridiculous. Buy before you eat, wear, play with, or in any way use. And, really? You can’t get through a shopping trip without grazing? Is it also okay, to sample the produce? Plan better. Carry snacks in your car. And if you’re going to be so careless, be prepared to pay the consequences.”
“She forgot’ to pay for something she’d already eaten, and used her kid as an excuse. She shouldn’t be surprised that she was busted for it. In a grocery store, if you pay for your food before you eat it, this doesn’t happen. This one was trying to get away with it.”
“Pay for the food, then eat, or go to jail. What is there not to understand?”
These folks are missing the point. Using blanket policies to respond to specific circumstances is just stupid. Policies are great but we’re also human beings with discretion. The store manager and the police could have used a little discretion in this case. Is this couple a repeat offender? No. Did they purchase $50 worth of groceries? Yes. Did they have a young child with them? Yes. Is it likely they just forgot to pay for the sandwiches? Yes. So react accordingly you robots! Cut the family some slack in this specific situation. It’s absolutely atrocious that a small child was taken away from her parents because of what is likely a mix-up over some $5 sandwiches.
Here’s Nicole Leszczynski telling her story. Do you think she and her husband should have been arrested?