A manager at a Big Lots store in California is claiming that both she and her colleague were fired by Big Lots after they followed an alleged thief out of the story to wrangle back a shopping cart and recover a load of laundry detergent that he was trying to steal.
That former Big Lots manager is Lily Oxford. She said that both she and another manager were trying to recover the shopping cart, filed with 17 packages of stolen Tide pods, after a homeless man left the store with the stolen goods, according to local NBC affiliate KGET.
According to Oxford, when she spoke to KGET, the goal was to recover the shopping cart because many of them had already been stolen and there was an ever-dwindling supply of carts left for paying customers. “For Christmas, we had just got 40 brand new carts,” she said. “It’s March, we’re down to five carts. So, we are instructed, no carts are to leave that store whatsoever. No matter… customers are not allowed to take it.”
The cart’s wheels locked when he left the store, so the alleged thief had to drag it across the parking lot to his vehicle. Oxford and her fellow Big Lots employee caught up to him as he loaded the pilfered Tide pods into his car.
They, recording the incident on their phones, approached him to recover the stolen cart. Flustered at being recorded, the shoplifter ran away from the car. The driver of it then apologized for trying to abett the thief, getting out of the car to help them take the Tide pods back. “The other guy got out of his car and said, ‘Here, ma’am, take it all, take it all,’” Oxford said. “I’m thinking, ‘Oh great, I’m getting all my stuff back.’”
Appreciative onlookers gathered round the scene to cheer on the managers for finally standing up to the rampant crime that had ravaged the store, Oxford said. “I had people, at least three different people out here, applauding me, because it happens so much,. So many customers see it happen on a daily basis. At least four to five times a day this happens, whether they go out the front door or whether they go out the back door,” she said.
Big Lots, however was less pleased. Both she and her coworker were fired by the company for standing up to theft and recovering the stolen cart and Tide pods. “I really thought I did a good thing by recovering the product, but instead I was fired,” Oxford said.
Speaking to KGET, a risk management consultant defended Big Lots’ decision, saying, “Some of these employees, they know what’s right and what’s wrong, and they feel, ‘Hey, this is wrong.’ And they think it’s almost their duty to step up and not let this kind of crap happen. However, from the employers’ standpoint, flat out they do not want this employee injured, God forbid killed.… The financial aspect of a person, a guard, a cashier, being injured can really, really get into the high dollar.”
Lily Oxford created a GoFundMe for herself to help her pay her bills after she was fired from Big Lots for standing up to theft. In the description of the GoFundMe, she said, “Hi my name is Lily and I asking for help I was fired from Big Lots yesterday for following a thief outside to recover my cart and 17 things of Tide pods. This homeless man walked in loaded his cart and walked out , I followed him to get my cart and noticed he was going to a car I then pulled out my phone and began recoding, the getaway driver seen I was recording and got scared and literally made the thief give me all of the product back! I really thought I did a good thing by recovering the product but instead I was fired. I’m a single mom of 2 teenagers and I’m just a little worried about my rent. I’ve already applied for unemployment and I’m filling out applications . I just know there’s waiting periods for me to get paid. Any help would be so appreciated.”
Featured image credit: GoFundMe
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