Have you ever been hungry and munched on something before getting to the supermarket check-out? Yeah, me too.
Ever been arrested for forgetting to pay for it, then lose custody of your toddler daughter? Probably not.
That’s what a couple in Hawaii says happened to them.
Nicole Leszczynski, 28, who is also 30 weeks pregnant, and her husband Marcin, 33, were shopping last week at a Honolulu Safeway with their two-year-old-daughter. She said she felt faint, noshed on the sammies, put the wrappers in the cart to pay later and finished shopping. They checked out, paying about $50 for the groceries, but in what Nicole called a “distracted parenting moment” they left the store without paying the five bucks for the chicken salad sandwiches.
That’s when their trouble began. A security guard stopped them. Embarrassed, the couple offered to pay for the sandwiches. But managers refused, citing store policy, Leszczynski says.
Police were called, the two were arrested and taken to a Honolulu police department, getting released after a few hours on $50 bail. But in another decision that authorities called following procedure, daughter Zofia was taken away and placed in state custody.
‘’They had to call Child Protective Services to take our daughter because we have no friends or family here,’’ she wrote on a babycenter.com post, adding that their bail was $50 each and they were charged with fourth degree theft.
“We didn’t know where our daughter was, didn’t know what the situation was, she didn’t have any clothes. They just took her right from the grocery store.’’ Leszczynski says the couple spent a sleepless night worrying before the girl was returned 18 hours later. She adds it’s “still hard to believe this happened.”
Now it seems Safeway’s corporate offices are eating crow sandwiches for lunch.
The store’s latest official statement says: “It appears we may not have handled this matter in the best possible way and we are taking the situation seriously.”
Reportedly, the couple is planning to fight the shoplifting charges at their court date later this month.
This story has plenty of people outraged.
Now, Safeway is refusing to press charges against the couple.
Safeway told Honolulu police last week that it will not press charges against Marcin and Nicole Leszczynski, company spokeswoman Susan Houghton told The Associated Press.
Karl Schroeder, a Safeway division president, called Nicole Leszczynski, and, “He apologized for what she’s been through,” Houghton said.
Houghton said management followed routine shoplifting procedure by contacting police, but Safeway regrets not foreseeing that doing so would cause a child to be separated from her parents.
“We want to do the right thing here,” Houghton said. “Families are important to us.”
The incident at the store near downtown Honolulu is prompting Safeway to examine how managers and employees are trained. “In this case, it was not handled in the appropriate manner and we wanted to correct that,” Houghton said.
Did the pregnant woman steal? Should she have been allowed to pay for the sandwich? Was the situation blown out of proportion?
How can the store make this up to the couple? Is saying, “all is forgiven” enough?