Woman detained over false shoplifting accusations

April 14, 2012 5:16:09 AM PDT
A quick trip to a department store turned into a lengthy ordeal for one woman. And as she waits for answers and an apology, she has a lesson for all shoppers.

Monnicia Gainous can't even remember how many times she was asked this at the Macy's at Greenspoint Mall last Saturday afternoon.

"He was like, 'Where's the stuff? We need our stuff,'" Gainous said. "They insisted that I had something."

And every time she says her answer was the same.

"And I'm like, 'I don't know what you're talking about, I didn't do anything,'" Gainous said.

The 34-year-old says she was on her way out of the store when she was stopped by loss prevention officers. They accused her of stealing clothing. They searched her purse and even patted her down.

"I didn't have nothing on me," she said.

From there, she was handed over to HPD and handcuffed.

"It was in the back like this, like that," Gainous said.

The officer took her to the storefront, she says, where a female officer again searched her. The outcome was the same and she was released. Gainous says she was held for up to an hour, not only inconvenienced but, also embarrassed.

"Being put in handcuffs and put in the back of the police car and walking out of the store and having people see me like that," she said.

Shoplifting from stores costs retailers an estimated $13 billion per year, according to online statistics. Loss prevention is also a big business but store officers don't have the same authority as police when it comes to searches.

Our legal analyst, Joel Androphy, says Gainous could have refused.

"If you walk into a store, you don't sacrifice your personal liberties just because you're shopping there," Androphy said.

Gainous doesn't plan to shop there again. The explanation she got two days later...

"The supervisor called me and said that they had the wrong person," Gainous said.

And this is her advice to Macy's...

"They're too aggressive and they need to change their policy; if they detain somebody and they don't have nothing on them, they should let you go," she said.

Of course we wanted to hear from Macy's for this story, but our emails and calls starting Thursday were never returned -- even though Gainous says since we sent our first email, she has received five phone calls from the corporate office.


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