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My mum has been cautioned for shoplifting

Discussion in 'Welcome and how to use Dementia Talking Point' started by jmmd14, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. jmmd14

    jmmd14 Registered User

    Apr 20, 2015
    Hello. I need some advice as to how to respond to a manager of a local supermarket who has accused my mother of stealing a banana. I am not sure if he knows about her condition as he is quite new to the store but other members of staff know because she goes to the supermarket cafe for her lunch every day. Today she went into the main part of the store and took one banana which she admits she didn't pay for because there was a large queue and she didn't think it was important!! She took it back to the cafe and ate it. She has been told she will be barred from the store if it happens again which I think is a bit over the top. I need some advice as to how to proceed with this matter as I feel I should speak to the manager about it and also I'm not happy with the fact that he showed her up in the middle of the store when I think he should have taken her somewhere private. Can anyone tell me what they would do in these circumstances. By the way she is 90 years old and he is middle 30's and I feel he should have been more respectful. Thanks
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    I would ask to speak to the manager privately.
  3. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    Hello and welcome to Talking Point.

    I would have a word with the Manager, let him know your Mother has dementia and there will be times where she could be confused or not remember she has to pay. Give him a contact number and say if he calls you when there is a problem with Mum forgetting to pay you will pop in and pay so there is never a need for him to treat her in such a way again. Threatening to ban her too when she goes in every day for lunch would be awful, your Mum would never understand why.

    When my husband was still driving I had a word with the owner of the local garage where he bought his petrol and he had my number and should my husband forget to pay and drive off then he was to call me and I would go and pay. He was more than happy and asked if we wanted an account. He never called me but at least we were covered.

    I hope the Manager has the good grace to opologise.
  4. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    Hi....I know it is petty but I suppose it was technically theft.:rolleyes:

    I think, if I were you, that I would take a photograpy of Mum in to the store and ask to speak with the manager. Calmly and with a smile, tell him you understood his immediate reaction, however you hope he will equally understand your predicament, ie that your 90 year old Mum has Dementia, has no way of comprehending her actions as unlawful, and you would be grateful if, in future should she enter the establishment again, could he arrange for someone to telephone you and you will come to collect her. That way he will be seen to be helping a vulnerable old person. Tell him that you will be sure to praise his store most highly to the local press for acting in a " Dementia Friendly" Manner and if he would like to go one step further tell him that the AZ Soc would be delighted to point him towards the recognised areas to find out more about Dementia Friends.

    Tell him all this with a smile, don't let him get sidetracked and you mght find he thought of it all by himself.;);)

    I would also take another copy of the photo into the local Police Station and ask them to note that Mum is a vulnerable adult, and has had a problem, but that ou have spoken to the manager and (hopefully) sorted it out.

    Get in quick....because Mum might not remember her criminal past by tomorrow:rolleyes::D:D
  5. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Hi jmmd, welcome to TP
    As cragmaid says technically it could be theft although I doubt they would make it stick as to steal the banana she would probably have to leave the shop, that's the normal rule but I guess smuggling it out in your colon classes as theft.
    Sadly in this day and age if you do make a fuss you may just find they bar her completely, there are numerous stories on here of people being barred from; pubs, clubs and even churches for being "inconvenient" so easiest for the manager would be to ban her, that seems to be the way of the world.
    I would as suggested see the manager and explain the circumstances but before I did I would google the particular supermarket chain and see if they have made any statements about being dementia friendly or aware (many have Tesco for example) and if they have quote that. It might be that if it was put to him that he was doing something that was against company policy (and possibly putting his a*** on the line in doing so) he might come round a bit.
    As for the public shaming bit I would put it to him that that is a possible breach of the disability discrimination act and if it ever happened again now that he is aware of your mothers condition then he as an individual would be committing the offence and as such could be liable to possible prosecution, no hiding behind his job as a supermarket manager, the summons comes through your letterbox, you committed the offence.
    If you don't get any satisfactory outcome then contact the head office and see what their view is, sadly as I say banning is the easy way out.
  6. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    You could also point out that your mum would be unable to remember even if she was 'banned' so he would not be able to avoid the 'problem' of her coming in every day.
  7. chick1962

    chick1962 Registered User

    Apr 3, 2014
    near Folkestone
    I was a store manager :) and once established that a person has dementia I used to inform the staff and had indeed the phone number of a nearest relative who would settle whatever was taken . Because we were informed of that particular person with dementia, they got welcomed by staff and assisted ( without being patronised I might add) and helped to make their shopping experience a happy one :)

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  8. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    "My mum has been cautioned for shoplifting"


    In the title you used the word "cautioned":confused:
    If you mean it in the way of your mum has been told off by the manager then ignore the rest.:)

    However if you mean it in an official sense then No she has not been "cautioned". That can only be done by the Police and would require her to have admitted a specific offence. In the circumstances you have stated I doubt even the most over zealous probationer needing to hit their targets would have got that past their supervisor.:)
  9. jan.s

    jan.s Registered User

    Sep 20, 2011
    Dear jmmd

    How upsetting for you and your mum.

    As others have said, I would talk to the manager, and try to make him understand.

    If however, that doesn't happen, I would write to customer services at head office and explain the situation. Treating a vulnerable 90 year old that that for taking a banana when she didn't understand the consequences doesn't make good publicity.

    Maybe the manager needs to learn to be a little more empathetic.
  10. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    #10 Jessbow, Apr 21, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
    Difficult all round.

    How do you know about it? Did she tell you or did someone else?

    I think you do need to talk to the store manager, and eat humble pie- admit what she did was wrong....when all comes to all, she DID steal a banana- and apologise profusely. We might understand, but he probably doesn't and at the end of the day he has, I suppose a job to do.

    Hopefully, when he does understand a bit, (and i'll bet he isn't his only customer with dementia) he wont ban her.

    Presumably if she still understands getting to the store and buying lunch everyday, she till understands some routines and is fairly independent.


    I had an aunt that did the same, fortunately she only ever did it in their local supermarket where she herself had worked ( and only ever when she *escaped*) they were very good about it, although her daughter nearly died of shame. the manager said she was the only person with a 'slate'.
  11. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    This is one of my main nagging worries. It hasn't happened to my husband yet but I am dreading that it might happen. I have thought about it a lot over the past year and had inwardly resolved that should the day come I would make the managers of the various shops aware of my husband's condition and try to come to some kind of arrangement where they could contact me and let me know what's owed. I think that would be the best scenario all round - but it takes the co-operation, understanding and awareness of the shop keepers and local police to make it happen.
    Several people have suggested you try to make the same kind of arrangement and I hope you have success in doing so. Good luck and let us know how it goes. :)
  12. zena285

    zena285 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2013
    My mum used to be a champion shoplifter and we used to really worry about her being charged as she wouldn't have understood or she would have just lashed out at the person trying to stop her, so then she could have had an assault charge to her name aswell! We went to the supermarket involved(Tesco) and explained things to the manager and they were brilliant. Whenever she turned up in the store they used to telephone and say she was there and allowed us to sort out the bill on whatever was in her bag. We don't have that problem now as she is now in a CH.
  13. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    I think someone who doesn't understand because of mental incompetence that their conduct is illegal CAN'T be found guilty in a court of law - they don't have a "guilty mind". Any court couldn't proceed to try your Mum without a pre-trial check from suitable medics to discover whether she understood that what she was doing was illegal and wrong.

    If your Mum has been cautioned by the police then get back to them instantly, explain your Mum's mental health issues and get them to review with the help of the medics whether your Mum is sufficiently mentally fit (1) to know what she did was illegal; AND (2) to decide whether to accept a caution.

    If the police really did caution her they were probably ill-advised to do so without having made very careful checks about the extent of her vulnerability. She is 90 years old and I think the police's working assumption should be that she's more likely to be a vulnerable adult than not.
  14. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Without the use of bold type, the original post was that the police were not involved, no charges will be brought, this is an older person who was at best trying to smuggle a banana out of the shop in her colon or maybe not as she never left the store and until you do you haven't stolen anything. The question is how can jmmd's mum continue in her community without this becoming a criminal matter or should the store just ban her as the easy way out?
    I'm sure jmmd wants to do this in the most equitable way and before she get's arrested when all the things you say (all of which are right) actually kick in.
    It's about protection not shouting your rights.
  15. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    I've now been back to the original post Kevinl - and you're right! :eek:
  16. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    That is not quite true. The act of Theft takes place at the time you take the item and intend to steal it. An act of concealment or as in this case eating it is enough. You do not have to have left the store although it is much easier to prove if you have. Many stores do operate that way or will detain if the person is heading for an exit and has passed the last assistant or till point.

    In the OP it would be hard to prove any intent however having Dementia is not an immediate "get out of jail" card, it all depends on the intent at the time. That is of course unless you are a Lord of the Realm.:rolleyes:
  17. Grammy

    Grammy Registered User

    Jun 2, 2012

    My own mother had exactly the same situation - she actually used to go to the till after and ask for a bag to put in the bananas she had 'taken'. As soon as I got to know about it I saw the manager and offered my credit card details to make a monthly charge for what ever she had taken. He was a very young manager, he didnt look much older than my grandson, and probably didnt even know what Alzheimers was, but he told me that she was not taking bottles of whisky or fillet steak as some shoplifters were that they knew about and as far as her few bananas or piece of cheese now and then - well he said - they had more wastage than that each day so I was not to worry about it and he refused my credit card !
    What a wonderful policy for a wonderful company - well done Waitrose - we will never forget their kindness and understanding.
    Once she fell over in their car park and their first aid person dressed her grazed knee. She then got it in to her head that they were the local hospital and insisted on going every day to have it re-dressed and again they accommodated her.
  18. Senga

    Senga Registered User

    Oct 1, 2013
    Is it just me?, but I think the Store manager's treatment of your Mum was dreadful! Surely it would have taken him all of 5 minutes to realise your poor Mum was not a 'thief' in the normal sense. He certainly should have not spoken to your Mum on the shop floor in this manner. I was a Sales Floor Manager for some 15 years and we were instructed to take the customer aside and quietly speak to them.

    I'm sorry, but I would personally visit this store, yes, speak to him and apologise but make it very plain his treatment of a vulnerable adult was not acceptable and surely his store has procedures in place for this type of situation. Should I not be happy with his replies I would advise him I require his Head Office address.

    Sorry again but I am so angry at this young man....
  19. Ravens

    Ravens Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    I am going to go against the grain here and support the store manager ( a little!), We don't have the details, but reading between the lines it appears that there was no caution, instead the manager had a discussion with a customer about the stolen banana.

    Part of that discussion was that the store policy was to ban people who take things without paying.

    As an untrained person he is in the same situation as most of us but coming up against it for the first time, how many can honestly say they never got frustrated at the lack of comprehension of extremely simple conversations, e.g. yes mum you take all the pills, even the red one... mum why did you just throw the red pill down the sink... or the classic what day is it, look at the clock it says the day, now take the pills for the same day... no Mum it is Tuesday why are you taking Fridays pills...

    High functioning dementia (I am guessing as she goes there for dinner each day, that she is a little like my mother) can be hard to spot in short conversations, even for those of us who deal with it, it is unreasonable to expect store managers to "know".
  20. CeliaW

    CeliaW Registered User

    Jan 29, 2009
    You make some valid points Ravens but no shop manager should do this in the store but take the person to one side to make his comments. That should be the case irrespective of her dementia and his knowledge of it or not.

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