Everyone says they're innocent

The Madison County Record Oct. 17, 2009, 11:00am

Most people have had the experience of being overcharged for something at a store. Maybe the cashier accidentally scanned a product twice or rang up the wrong price.

You point out the mistake and a correction is made.

Most people also have had the experience of inadvertently walking out of a store with one or more items unpaid for. You forgot about the bag of dog food underneath the buggy or your toddler surreptitiously grabbed a candy bar from the rack in the checkout aisle.

If you discover the contraband, you go back into the store and pay for it.

It's an honest mistake. It could happen to anyone.

But what if a security guard confronts you outside the store and finds that you have left with items unpaid for before you've discovered them yourself?

That's apparently what happened to Denise Macon. On October 14, 2007, a security guard confronted her outside the O'Fallon Wal-Mart saying she had not paid for three of the four items in her buggy. A pair of pajamas and some coasters had escaped notice beneath her purse in the shopping cart, she said, and the cashier had neglected to scan a bag of coffee.

Denise was arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting and on August 8, 2008, she was acquitted of the charge in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

That would have been the end of the matter, had Denise not filed suit against Wal-Mart and the security guard last month. Represented by Bill T. Walker of Granite City and James E. Parrot of St. Louis, she's seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus punitive damages, costs and other relief.

Denise may have made an honest mistake, but she and her attorneys seem unwilling to give her accusers the benefit of the doubt.

Security guards say that every shoplifter claims to be innocent – even the repeat offenders.

That's why police and courts are needed to sort things out. Denise had her day in court and was vindicated. She and her attorneys should let the matter rest.

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