Pregnant woman suspected of shoplifting at Staples asked to lift her shirt to reveal what was underneath
A pregnant mother was accused of shoplifting at a North Carolina Staples where she had to prove her innocence by lifting her shirt and revealing her bump to suspicious staff and police officers.
On Friday, Sherell Bates was shopping for her kids in the Staples in Pineville, North Carolina, when she was apprehended by a cop at the cash register. "Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need,” Bates said.
Just as she was checking out of the store, the cop asked her what was under her shirt. Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.”
At first, the pregnant woman thought it was a joke, and so replied by saying "twins".
"Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl."
However, it appeared as if the officer was not amused by her response. "At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies," she told local news network WSCOTV.
Later, the cop justified his suspicion by revealing that a staff member had approached him and raised doubts that she might have shoplifted from the store.
The enraged mother then confronted the store employee, who confessed that she had seen quite a few women attempted to steal back-to-school goods under the pretext of being pregnant.
"When I confronted her about what happened, she admitted that, 'In the past, we've had a lot of people putting school supplies or merchandise in their clothes and hiding, so I asked the officer to reach out to you," Bates said.
However, Bates said it was no excuse.
"You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large.
"That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that," she said.
Although Staples has apologized for the incident, Bates is considering legal action against the office supply giant.
The company released the following statement:
"Yesterday at our Pineville location, while a customer was shopping, a manager mistakenly thought they were possibly shoplifting and asked a police officer that happened to be in the store to talk with the customer.
"After a quick conversation, the issue was resolved, the manager apologized to the customer and refunded their transaction due to the inconvenience.
"Staples has since conducted a full investigation into the matter, and determined that the manager in question did not follow correct protocol and also failed to adhere to our existing policy on how to interact with our customers.
"As a result of this finding, the manager has been terminated and Staples has apologized to the customer.
"At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our store, and work with our store associates to try and foster an inclusive culture.
"As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer if that was not the case in this instance."