Walmart Manager Fired for Stopping Shoplifter

The Walmart manager did what he thought was part of his job, and that was to protect the interests of the store at which he worked and managed.

A shoplifter carrying over $1,000 worth of merchandise ran out the store, triggering an alarm, and the manager immediately went after him. He chased him across the street where a security guard from an apartment complex helped the Walmart manager detain the shoplifter and hold him for police. The guy was arrested, the merchandise was recovered, and that was that.

Less than a month later, the manager was fired for violating protocol in dealing with the shoplifter. You’re not supposed to go after them like that. You’re supposed to leave that to the police. Walmart doesn’t want to be on the hook for any injuries or deaths that might happen to one of their own in case one of them decides to try to be a hero. The New York Daily News reported on the incident:

Watson [the store manager], who said he made about $50,000 a year at his job, told the website he thought he was doing the right thing when the “habitual shoplifter” was running out of the store after setting off a security alarm.

The now former manager said he had been trained not to follow a suspect more than 10 feet out of the store, but there were no loss prevention officers working that night.

“I am expected to keep the shoplifting at a minimum,” he said.

The value of items taken from the store also affects how much his associates receive in bonuses, he explained. The more money the store loses from thefts, the less the employees get paid, he said.

Watson was not hurt in the altercation, but said he was stunned the company made this decision. He was cited for “gross misconduct,” which means he cannot be hired at another Walmart of Sam’s Club.

“It was just kind of strange,” he said of his firing. “It was strange that they came to this conclusion after 27 days. I thought I was protecting the company.”

Well, he was protecting the company. But these sorts of policies are what to expect from giant retailers like Walmart. A small mom-and-pop business wouldn’t fire a manager for going after a thief. He’d likely be commended. Maybe even given a raise. And they’d probably pay for any injuries he sustained pursuing the individual, or at least try to raise the money needed from donations.

Other bigger companies have similar rules as Walmart about what employees can do in protecting themselves or the interests of the business. Most chain businesses like convenient stores and gas stations have strict rules on firearms, even though those kinds of businesses are prime targets for burglars. These business’s corporate offices would rather have a dead employee who “followed protocol” than one who defended himself successfully from an armed criminal. A lot less paperwork to deal with.