Security company apologizes to 7-year-old after false shoplifting accusations
Emad Agahi, CTV Winnipeg
Published Thursday, December 29, 2016 6:54PM CST
Aside from stocking up shelves during the busy holiday shopping season, many businesses are also beefing up security to curb shoplifting.
Last week a Winnipeg security officer falsely accused 7-year-old Chloe Stewart of stealing a key chain at an Ardene store in Unicity at Christmas.
"It was embarrassing, my daughter was almost in tears," said Sarah Meeches, Chloe’s mom.
Chloe said her favorite thing about the holidays used to be gift shopping with her parents and her older sister. However, she said after what happened to her, she was humiliated and just wanted to go home.
“I told them that I didn't take anything, and that I would never take anything from a store, or steal anything," Chloe added.
She said the security guard made her empty her pockets in public, “but there wasn't anything in there."
Josh Rogala, a Winnipeg criminal defence lawyer, explained guilty or not, a child should never be confronted out in the open.
"It really should be something that the law prevention officer deals with by approaching the parent, talking with the parent and having the parent talk with their child," he said.
According to Rogala, under the Criminal Code of Canada a person cannot be accused of stealing before actually leaving the store with an item they didn't purchase.
"Just because someone has an object in their possession, in their pockets, and they are wandering around in the store, doesn't mean they had intention in committing a theft," he added.
Rogala also said explained that a loss prevention officer cannot search a customer, or in this case demand a customer, empty their pockets.
If that officer can prove someone has taken the object and walked out of the store, then a loss prevention officer can apprehend a person and call police.
The security company hired by Ardene said the situation wasn't handled correctly, and has since apologized to the family.
In an email to Chloe’s mom, Neptune Security said:
"The guard in question handled this situation wrong….he has been taken out of the store and has been re-assigned to sites not in the public."
Meanwhile, Ardene wrote to CTV that the company, "sincerely regrets the recent event that transpired .... and wish to convey that the incident is in no way a reflection of Ardene's culture or policies regarding our customer care."
Chloe’s father Brett Stewart said the family is happy to receive an apology and now more than anything it wants the whole thing behind them.
"We didn't feel welcome in the store and it's something I just hope never happens to her ever again," he added.