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Elderly Vet Got In Trouble For Trying To Stop Shoplifters

A veteran was working at a Home Depot in Texas when he spotted some shoplifters leaving the store with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise. The man says his instincts kicked in, and he blocked their path and confronted them about the theft. He tried to save the store thousands of dollars, but instead of thanking him, the company fired him.

Jim Tinney worked at a Pearland, Texas Home Depot, and the 70-year-old said he was aware that in training he was told not to stop thieves. But Tinney was standing there with a paint roller extension in his hand as he witnessed three men walking toward the door with thousands of dollars’ worth of tool sets. He instinctively extended the rod to stop them from walking out.

Tinney didn't get rough with the thieves, nor did he go beyond attempting that minor road block. They easily walked past the pole, headed out the door and got away with their loot. The event happened a month ago, and Tinney thought it was over and done with. Then he was informed that he was fired.

While the elderly man admits he made a mistake with his protective reflex, he can't believe he lost his job over it.

“I think they could have written me up, reprimanded me, but terminate me? That’s pretty strong,” Tinny told ABC News. “I’m 70 years old. I need to work. I needed that job. I enjoyed working with customers figuring out what they wanted to do. It’s fun.”

According to a Home Depot spokesperson, the company has a strict policy in place about workers approaching shoplifters or thieves. Unless they are trained security personnel, they're not supposed to do it.

“What I can tell you now is that we have a strict policy that only our trained security personnel can pursue and engage shoplifters,” said Stephen Holmes, a corporate spokesman. “We’ve had deaths and serious injury over the years, and no amount of merchandise is more important than the safety of our associates and customers.”

There have been incidents in which desperate shoplifters have turned violent towards employees. One was bitten. One was stabbed. Another encountered a shoplifter and got into a scuffle that resulted in brain damage.

“In fact, in just the past 24 hours we’ve had two shoplifters pull guns at two different stores at both ends of the country,” Holmes’ statement continued. “So you can see, it’s a very serious safety risk to everyone, even when it doesn’t appear to be.”

Tinney still can't believe he lost his job over the incident. He didn't even think about it when he tried to intervene. “In the Army, they train you to do things like that,” he says. “I just automatically went like this and threw the stick at their feet.”

Home Depot is very serious about their policy. In May in a Portland, Oregon Home Depot, an employee jumped to action when a woman in the parking lot screamed, "Somebody help me, please! He’s stealing my kid! He’s kidnapping my child!"

The employee jumped into a car and followed the kidnapper and called 911. It turned out to be a domestic violence dispute in the parking lot, and the worker was told by his manager that he should have just returned to work after witnessing what appeared to be a kidnapping in progress.

Source: New York Post, Fox 6
Photo: KRTK Screenshot

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