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Home Depot’s policy on theft puzzles Boardman police

Published: Sat, May 12, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



Police caught a shoplifter with merchandise from a retailer but ultimately let him go after the store’s manager said she did not want to press charges.

A Home Depot employee called police to report a theft about 9 a.m. Thursday and gave a description of the suspect and his vehicle, which was heading north on Southern Boulevard, police said.

An officer stopped the suspect’s car a few blocks away, near Lucy Drive, and the suspect got out of the car and began to run toward the cruiser, reports state.

The officer drew his gun and ordered him to stop, and the suspect complied, police said.

Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols was in the area and stopped to assist the first patrolman. Nichols said the two patted down the suspect and found merchandise stolen from Home Depot.

When officers went to Home Depot, the employee who called police said he could not cooperate with the prosecution of the suspect because of Home Depot’s corporate policy: Suspects who take merchandise outside the store are not to be pursued, according to police records. An unidentified female manager recited the same corporate policy, police said.

Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes told The Vindicator on Friday he could not comment on specific corporate policies but said the company “aggressively defends against theft and has protocols in place.”

“We do have asset-protection associates in the field and in stores, and there are different policies regarding what they can do versus what non-asset-protection associates can do,” Holmes said.

“There are strict policies and we enforce them, and we have them for the protection of customers and associates. No amount of merchandise is worth risking anyone’s safety,” he continued.

Police said both the Boardman manager and employee expressed greater concern Thursday that an employee may have violated corporate policy by following the suspect through the entrance of the store than that a crime had occurred, or that police became involved because of the report of that crime.

The officer asked what the store wanted police to do with the suspect and was told nothing. Then, the officer asked if the store wanted its property back, and he wrote in the police report: “I was told ‘No, he can keep it.’”

Without witnesses to go to court and someone willing to pursue charges, police released the suspect and let him keep the stolen property.

“The problem is we could have arrested him, but we have no witnesses to proceed with the case and then it gets dismissed,” Nichols said.

Holmes said the corporate asset-protection team is reviewing the Boardman case.

“They’re going to see if they can appropriately assist with prosecution,” Holmes said.

The chief said the whole episode was extremely frustrating.

“There’s a number of stores of that do that — don’t pursue shoplifters — and essentially when word gets out, [those stores] are funding the heroin trade,” he said.

Nichols said many shoplifting cases involve drug addicts who are stealing to either trade the items for drugs or sell stolen items to get cash for drugs. He did not say if that was the case in Thursday’s incident.

“When a store throws up their hands and says, ‘Go ahead and take whatever,’ that’s how people fund their habits. It’s just ridiculous,” he said.


1bmanresident(607 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

This is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard!! So we can all just walk into a Home Depot, take whatever the heck we want, and the company turns down police assistance? What idiot lawyer made up those policies. It's one thing to prohibit the employees to pursue, but the Police had the guy in their custody!!! Morons, all of them. I agree with the chief on this one. And this is why i shop at lowes, but then again, why spend money at lowes when i can get it for free at Home Depot.

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2TERRI_USA(30 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Well it looks like HD is giving away free stuff, just wear a heavy coat and fill up the pockets.

Now every theif in town will know where to go now. Looks like Lowe's will no longer have to be concerned about shop lifters, they all went to HD.

Too bad Free At Last Stan is not around to comment, I know he would really have some laughable comments to make.

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3gingerspice(142 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Were they filming "What Would You Do?" Are there certain days you can steal from HD; like M-W-F??

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4taxme(361 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Justice. Lowes has the same policy. Many stores do. Reread HellaBB's post. It does seam ridiculous but on the other hand, I wouldn't want my husband run over in the parking lot by a shop lifter speeding away in his car while being chases by a store employee.

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5holken(8 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

TERRI-USA: You said Stan is not around anymore and I have noticed this. What happened to him?

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

TERRI-USA my comment is
This is just life in Boardman .,With all the crime out here we use the police to stop shop lifter . REALLY

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7ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

But at what point do these stores just become a free for all? Is it OK if it happens once a week? What about when the word gets out (thanks Vindy) and shoplifting starts happening 30 times a day?

Following HellaBB's logic, NO property crimes should be prosecuted. Is it worth the risk of injury to stop someone from stealing your car? How about robbing your house? Just sit in a corner and let anyone just take everything you have because you are afraid?

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8Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Actually steelman you should probably help them load the heavy stuff so they don't get injured picking it up.

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9silentgrandpa(22 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

This is to the people at home depot. If you are not going to prosecute shoplifters don't waste the time of the boardman police,they could be going on calls to store's that are serious about prosecuting shoplifters.

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10ttup1rd(27 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

@ HellaBB, I don't care if someone takes a pencil, IT'S STEALING and good for the guard from kmart for doing his job. That's why I have a concealed carry permit and I'm not afraid to protect my family, hell I may even help you if your being robbed, but you would rather they just take whatever they want because your AFRAID someone might get hurt.. Wake up people and start defending ourselves...

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11dmacker(546 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Why did HD even bother to call the police.
When you speak of the possibility of someone being injured, what about the responding police officer.
This is the most ridiculous asset protection policy I have ever heard. We all end up paying for this insane policy, by higher prices. I for one am done with shopping at HD.

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12grand4dad(219 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree with dmacker, why did they even bother to call the police? And since they did, why not let the police do their job? Makes no sense whatsoever.

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13Photoman(1249 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Boardman is a wonderful place to test this company policy. Now all of the lowlifes know they can steal and get away with it and they certainly will steal--a lot. The store manager will end up being fired due to losses, price increases to the rest of us will skyrocket and HD will move it's store because of lack of business. Once again we lose, criminals win.

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14VIGILANT(4 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Decriminalizing the sharing of wealth is the first step in creating a kinder and more gentler valley. We should applaud and not criticize Home Depot for their actions. Can you just imagine how life would be if banks adopted this policy? The sky would be the limit in consumer satisfaction.

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15Education_Voter(1175 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

That's ridiculous.

At a discount store in Boardman that is now the HobbyLobby, I saw the store's security personnel detain a shoplifter in the funniest way possible.
The shoplifter ran out the door as the bus was was approaching. He actually thought he was going to use a city bus as a get-away vehicle. Well, the bus didn't stop and open its door fast enough. He was dancing around on the curb, when the security team from the store nabbed him by the shirt collar and pulled prone on the sidewalk.

It was quite amusing. And gave the audience on the bus and in the parking lot respect for the store.

Hey, shoplifters...stay away from grocery stores, they will proscecute.

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16misterlee(118 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

This is a HD company policy, it's not a Youngstown thing. Stop trying to be an online Limbaugh, you're really bad at it as your arguments are complete non sequiturs. I'm still waiting for you to accept my friend request on your little oil boy website. What are you afraid of tough guy?

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17bmanresident(607 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

At post 19. Hello Stan.

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18redeye1(5683 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

misterlee Its HD policy to let everyone who steals to walk. But let's face it the policy of the lowlifes of Y-town take advantage of all the free and not so free stuff that they can get away with, Am I not correct !!!! They have free phones ,free food , free housing, nice cars etc . They have scammed their way to a good life by using taxpayers and the good moral people pay for it.

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19steelwagon(284 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I guess in a way I can understand HDs policy.
Scumbag ambulance chaser attorneys will file lawsuits against anyone they think will pay.
Just suppose some low life thief gets hurt running away from store security.
There's your lawsuit.

And even if the store wins the lawsuit they still lose given the cost of defending the suit.
Anyone can file a suit over anything and right or wrong it costs the victim to defend themselves.

In this case the police did their job,caught the thief but you'de think the store would at least want the stolen items back.

This story just declared open season on HD......

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20gingerspice(142 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

To decrease the risk of injury, just have certain days thieves can "work" at these stores with these policies in place!

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21TERRI_USA(30 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Welcome back Stan, too bad you till do not have that funny picture for your profile anymore.

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22justsayin(42 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

You guys are missing the point entirely. This isnt about the store's policy to not pursue. The COPS caught the guy. I think the store personnel have missed the intent of their own policy here. Why would it prohibit prosecution if the cops are invovled? No one from the store put themselves in harm's way.

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23diejones(1 comment)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Seems to me that the Boardman Police Dept. put this store in jeopardy by leaking this story to the media. They just declared open season for theft! Come on there are things you let get out to the media and then there are things that you don't! Just think about the min, wage associates in that store that now have to worry about being robed! Could one of them be your Mother just trying to make ends meant, or how about your son or your daughter just trying to make extra money to put them thru college? Sorry you all are missing the point! Its not the Home Depots fault its the Boardman Police Departments fault! Shame on them!

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24casper77(136 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like a free for all or a game show. I can see it now, Yes folk the rules of the game are simply ,if you make it out the door , the things you stoled are yours free . So take what you want and make a mad dash to the door. Bring your friends ,see how many can make it to the door. You can all win some great prizes

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25southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Let's all head down to Home Depot and make a selection, sounds as though the price is right! Ha ha

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26biggee(43 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

What kind of a society have we become? We are to the point where it is somehow wrong to try and stop theives {making it o.k. to steal} and having to change the constitution to call marriage the union of a man and a women. Friends I think we got big problems! Just sayen!

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27grate(1 comment)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I would like to know Walmart's policy as a couple months ago I saw a customer in line with boots on with the price tag on them. I told the associate at the register and she checked it out and notified a manager a couple feet from us. NO ONE did anything to the lady. I said I should go back and get a new coat and walk out.
Why didn't Home Depot at least get the stolen item back???? I guess if you can't afford what you want you go to Home Depot and walk out.

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28peggygurney(408 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Justsayin is right. Some of y'all are missing the point entirely.

I Do understand HD's policy of not pursuing outside the door. BUT they don't even want employees to call the police now! WTH???

The employee didn't pursue outside the door. S/he called the cops. The cops caught the person. The manager tells the cops, the person can KEEP THE GOODS, they are not pressing charges. IMO this is completely INSANE.

I am never shopping at HD again.

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29republicanRick(1743 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Home Depot is a business, not a reformer of society. In today's world it is cheaper to let the crooks steal and absorb the loss and pass the cost along to the honest shoppers.

This is because of all the lawyers and lawsuits and the high expense. The blame falls on the lawyers and jurys getting big settlements for the crooks.

This is how a liberal mindset gradually erodes and destroys society. Liberals love lawyers.

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30margarita(19 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

How about not shopping at Home Depot because I now don't feel safe there. They let thieves go and put all of us at risk. Now lets see who they choose to protect..the thief or me! I wonder if they mind losing money from consumers!
Let's try Lowes till HD regains their senses!

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31CountryGirl51(232 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Doesnt make sense to me either. There was no problem in the parking lot, no one got hurt. There did not seem like any reason for any law suit etc. So why not prosecute this person for stealing ? The Police caught the person and they had the merchandise on them that they stole. It was all wrapped up !! Crazy !! And then to tell them to keep it !!!???

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32asc1277(1 comment)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

"Home Depot’s corporate policy: Suspects who take merchandise outside the store are not to be pursued"

All this means is that an employee is not to run after someone who is running off with store merchandise. Obviously, the employee could get hurt and the store does not want to put it's employees in danger. The police can run after people wo are stealing- that is their job.
Is the store manager that dumb that they do not understand this? This person runs a store? Really? Where is HR to explain this?

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33VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

As another poster pointed out...HD, as well as most big box stores write off this theft as "shrinkage" and allow for that in their yearly budget. Why waste the time? Avoid the danger, simply add it to your expense for doing business and charge the paying customer for the loss.

All of those cameras in the ceiling?...no one is watching them. They are only there to make customers think they are being watched. The cameras are really used by management and corporate more to watch the employees, because you just can't trust an employee. Especially employees in an economically stressed area such as Mahoning County. I know of one manager who received a call from his Corporate office in another state and was told he was observed on camera leaving his office and failing to lock the office door.

If a cashier comes up short on their drawer, the manager can review the video tape on that employee to see if there was theft by the employee.

Customers stealing merchandise that walks out the door with them?...not a big deal...its small stuff and will be written off, but an employee stealing cash or coming up short often? Immediate dismissal.

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34dawn421(265 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

@uticashale. you are the biggest a#$hole i have seen on here. you are clearly not from here. this pos did wrong and they fired the employee. i am sick of you acting like everyone that gets some help from the governent is a fn criminal!!!!!! i just gor custody of my grandbabys. am i a thief cuz im gettin help? unemployent from 25 plus yrs doesnt cut it so i need help, so if i a thief then oh well. u need to go back where you came from and stop labeling everyone here

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