Snacking and shopping - is that wrong?
November 4th, 2011
10:45 AM ET
Share this on:

Around this time last year, we ran a series of polls on bad customer behavior, from inconsiderate grocery store patrons to folks practically making babies at their restaurant table.

Today's debate comes courtesy of a 30 weeks pregnant mom arrested last week in Honolulu after she ate a sandwich in a Safeway store and forgot to pay. Nicole Leszczynski, a former Air Force staff sergeant, was charged with fourth-degree theft, a petty misdemeanor, as was her husband Marcin. The charges were later dropped by the store, but per standard procedure when both parents are arrested with a child present, Honolulu police called Child Welfare Services, and their 2 year old daughter was taken into custody overnight.

Leszczynski's defense was that she didn't know it was taboo to eat while shopping, and in some cultures and communities, that's the case. Shoppers think nothing of nibbling on an apple to stave off hunger pangs, or ripping open a packet of cookies to keep a fussy toddler occupied until it's time to check out. In others - especially big chain stores and places where items are paid for by the pound - eating before buying is considered as shoplifting, even if the customer fully intended to pay.

In Leszczynski's case, it was seemingly an honest mistake; she'd kept the sandwich wrapper to be scanned at the register and forgot. The family, when stopped by security, offered to pay once they realized what was going on. Though the managers involved during the incident argued to the contrary at the time, the Safeway chain has no official policy about in-store eating. They do, however maintain that shoppers should identify and pay for anything they consumed before checkout.

So, is it wrong to sneak a snack while shopping, if you fully intend to pay upon checkout, or is that simply beyond the pale? Share your stories and opinions in the comments below and we'll highlight the best of the debate in an upcoming post.

Previously - Pay-per-pound nibbling

soundoff (558 Responses)
  1. vegetarian recipes

    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

    October 10, 2014 at 11:50 pm |
  2. Calandra Schnitker

    Ive recently started a web site, the info you provide on this web site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work.

    July 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
  3. kitty

    Not opening packages that are for sale, but check for samples of soup or ask for a sample at the deli, or some stores put out grapes and other samples, try those instead of bothering with stuff that is for sale, would be a better idea if you are hungry. Some stores deli dept. throw foods away at the end of each day, so instead of them tossing out the last few bits of chicken wings or soup, they can offer it to those as a sample as they stop by their counter.

    April 18, 2014 at 2:34 am |
  4. John5

    This thread has great information on shopping. A friend of mine told me about this cool app that allows you to get instant feedback from your Facebook friends on whether you should buy something or not (for themselves or as a gift). Here's the link – I think the app is coming out around Black Friday but you can sign up now:

    November 22, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  5. Staceyann Dolenti

    It's not only bad for your waistline but it's also stealing!!!

    Staceyann Dolenti

    November 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

    Racist idiot.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  7. Anna

    Everytime I see the situation in the store. I was like why can't they wait until they paid for the item. I was at bj or costco once. I saw a customer open all the bags containing grapefruit and picking out the one she wants. Her bag was huge at the end so she took more. I decided to see if there was any secured bags left. all of the bags was loose. i try to pull one up and all the grapefruit fell. I was like this is stealing.

    November 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Toni Basil

      Wow, like you don't like really like talk like that, like do you?

      November 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  8. Oscar

    What does her being 30 weeks pregnant have to do with anything? Do a different set of laws apply to pregnant women?

    As for whether it is right or wrong, it's OK to eat something if you intend (and actually do) pay for it if the item is sold by the bunch, unit, etc. It is not OK if you are eating something that is weighed – then you're not paying for what you're eating. That's what it comes down to – do you pay for the part you're eating?

    November 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Tiffinie

      EXACTLY. I agree completely.

      I have been out running errands with my children longer than anticipated and, in the middle of shopping, one has said they were thirst. I nabbed a juice bottle and allowed them to drink it, but still paid for it when we left. It would be redundant and a complete waste of time to go up to the cash, wait in line and pay for just a juice bottle, then go back to shopping and pay for the rest when we are done.

      November 16, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  9. Dee

    This article is ridiculous. The woman ate something in the store, then left the store without paying. No one said it was wrong to eat in the store. It's wrong to shoplift, however. She would be in trouble if she left with the whole sandwich, without having paid for it and without having eaten it. Even if it was unintentional, she shoplifted. Nothing to do with eating and shopping. Sheesh!

    November 7, 2011 at 5:54 am |
    • Sipde

      It's not stealing if you are offered a sample in the store, but it is stealing if you eat it before you pay. My wife works in a larger grocery and she sees people "sampling" all the time and isn't allowed to say anything to the customers. And people wonder why the price of food continues to rise. The shrinkage has to be paid by the honest people that pay for what they plan to eat, not the ones that think they are entitled to take whatever they want. Please people...common sense?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
      • The level headed one

        You are wrong. Simply opening a package and eating it before paying for it is not stealing. It only becomes stealing once you leave the store without paying for it. It is perfectly legal to walk through the store and eat everything you pick up, as long as you go to the register with the empty packages and pay for them. Items sold by weight, like bulk fruit, could be eaten prior to paying as well, provided that you weighed the item(s) before eating them and you pay for them before leaving the store. Many people with glycemic disorders have to eat very regularly. Shopping for a couple of hours without eating could be dangerous to them.

        June 8, 2014 at 4:42 am |
  10. Dfox

    I'm sorry i have been reading some of these posts and i have had enough with the excuse making. If you have some kind of medical condition then you obviously need to be prepared before you go food shopping its only F**ing common sense. If your "condition" is that severe that you can't live 10-30 minutes without stuffing something in your pie hole then you have issues. If you have little bastard kids that like to throw tantrums, destroy everything in the store and scream their high pitched squeals then it is your damn fault for being a crappy parent. My son shops with me every saturday, he is five years old if he wants something he brings it to me and i may or may not let him put it in the cart. HE NEVER ATTEMPTS TO EAT IN THE DAMN STORE why ? because he doesn't see me or his mother doing it its called F***ing parenting and teaching discipline. Teach your kids discipline from the get go and you won't have to deal with a little monster at the store. How far have we fallen as a society when it is everybody elses fault but your own. There should not have to be a damn store policy telling you it is not ok to stuff your face while your food shopping; The local Stop and Shop is not a f***ing Red Lobster how hard is that to understand!?. Now i agree IF the store allows you to sample a grape before you buy them That is fine. its a nasty, low class, guetto, trashy behavior and i do not feel sorry for a person if they "forget" to pay after they filled their mouths with something they have not paid for and then walk out of the store. There i'm done ranting now back to your regularly scheduled program.

    November 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Andrew

      sometime things happen, even the best plan fails. She did not feel well, so she ate something then she forgot to pay. Yes, it is her fault, but she did offer to pay. I do not think she intended to steal. I agree that according to the law she is guilty, but why is the punishment so harsh? breaking up their family?

      November 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
      • Big Steve From Houston

        That happened to me once. I tried on a new suit and went home. The stupid cops arrested me, and I spent the night in jail for not paying for the suit. On the way home from jail, they arrested me again for driving a stolen car. I told them that I just forgot to pay. Then the cop said my watch was on a list of stolen merchandise. I told him I forgot to pay for it.

        I think it is wrong for people to call me a thief just because I was caught stealing redhanded.

        October 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • The level headed one

      I feel so sorry for your children. They must feel really proud every time you open your mouth and that trash comes spewing forth. Guess they'll turn out just like you, feeling self-righteous with their 75-word vocabulary.

      June 8, 2014 at 4:48 am |
  11. Brenna

    I shop with a 3 year old often and yes, I let her have snacks and I ALWAYS keep the wrapper and pay for it at checkout. I do not allow her to eat anything that has to be weighed until after checkout. Anybody who has gone shopping with a toddler should understand.

    November 5, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • jimbo

      So you are raising a person who will turn out just like the other weak people who eat while shopping. When this topic comes up again in 25 years your 28 year old will post a reply saying, "What is the problem? My mom always let me eat while shopping when I was growing up." Good job keeping the foraging while you shop behavior alive and well.

      November 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
      • Name*Shell

        What are you trying to say? I allowed my child to take naps, heck his kindergarten teacher even allowed, him to have a midmorning snack!! My amazing son, realized that he couldnt take a naps everyday, and he could not take a mid morning snack at work. I so proud of him, he has over come some major obstacles!

        November 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
      • jimbo

        Name*Shell – I can't really figure out what you are trying to communicate. I have broken out each sentence to try find a point. The only thing I can say for sure is you really like using commas randomly.

        You allowed your child to take naps.
        Did his kindergarden teacher take him shopping for groceries and allow him to snack while they were in the store?
        Then your son discovered he couldn't take a nap everyday.
        He also is not allowed to have food during the middle of the morning hours at work.
        You are proud of him because he has persevered through some trying times.

        Just trying to figure out WTF you are babbling about.

        November 8, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  12. Name*Shell

    I have been in the checkout lane, and have opened a bottle of water, to drink because I was so thirsty, before buying. And yes, I have tasted "one" grape (To see if they are good). And of coarse I intended to buy the grapes.

    But you know I cant tell you how many times I have looked over my receipt, at home, and noticed something rang up twice. Is that considered stealing, or a honest mistake by the cashier? Could I have them arrested?

    Well I can only pray, they have the little machine, to sign your name when you use a credit card, if not be careful you don't "steal" it.

    That women, did not intend to steal that sandwich, it was a honest mistake. There was no need to arrest her, she saved the wrapper, she offered to pay for it. I wonder how many man hours was wasted (the store manager waiting four hours for police, the police time, and child services)?

    November 5, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • IHEG @Name*Shell

      Well said

      November 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • ridic

      try being a cashier for a day. let me know how it works for you.

      November 10, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • jones soda

      I call BS.

      November 10, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  13. J.B.

    CNN needs a comments section similar to Huffington Post. All of the abusive negative posts in here make it impossible to have any sort of real conversation. Most of you act like children throwing around insults as if you never learned how to talk like an adult. Grow up.

    November 5, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • The level headed one

      Where's the "Like" button?

      June 8, 2014 at 4:51 am |
  14. LHShirley

    Grocery stores and the like encourage people to eat while shopping when they give out samples or even cook products and offer samples. I guess it is okay for the stores to allow eating by sampling to sell products, but it is not okay for the paying customer to sample...say grapes or fresh produce, before purchasing. Purchasing something that isn't fresh or tasty and finding out after a customer gets home is not good customer realtions as then the customer either has to absorb the cost, or make an effort to return it and make yet another trip to the grocery. I have been known to sample but not have a full meal in the grocery. As long as the customer pays for the goods consumed, it should be okay, but having a full meal on the grocery store while shopping is tacky. However if a customer forgets to pay, most grocery stores absorb the cost of this habit in the price of their goods anyway.

    November 5, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • Oscar

      Yea...if the store offers it to you, it's OK. If they don't, it's not. It's not yours until you pay for it.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Klw

    Nice fake family picture . . .

    November 5, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  16. jimbo

    The grocery stores should have some employees who patrol the aisles and mark people with paint ball guns when they catch someone eating food before paying. I've been in a few paint ball battles. I'll bet these starving people would think twice about eating in the aisle after feeling the sting of a paintball or two. Noone is entitled to eat while shopping for food but then again many people can't drive without texting. With 7 billion people on the planet and you are bound to get a group who will constantly say, "Whatever! I do what I want!!"

    November 5, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  17. N&W611J

    So to those non-grazers out there, you've honestly NEVER tasted a grape before buying a bunch, or sampled any of the product demos? Guess you guys don't show at Costco or Sam's Club, either. And those who think someone should go to their car to eat their snack before returning to the store need to get a life!

    November 5, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • fiveonetwo

      Uh, trying to justify your bad behavior? Do you stick your hands into the bin and 'sample' (STEAL) too?

      November 5, 2011 at 12:28 am |
      • N&W611J

        First off I would never use the bulk bins without the supplied tongs/scoop but I would not hesitate sampling an item if I wasn't familar with it before I possibly waste money on it or for freshness such as slivered almonds. I hardly think the single piece I might try would break the bank considering if the item is up to par, I'm likely to purchase enough to overcome that fraction of a cent's worth of loss to assure a sale. If it's in my cart, I'm going to be paying for it when I get to the checkstand so I hardly think it is going to make any difference if I open a bottle of water and take a sip or two while shopping. I would agree with a few of you, though, that messy stuff like greasy fried chicken shouldn't be eaten while shopping since most major stores and even many smaller ones offer some sort of seating area in their deli section. At the store I frequent (part of the Kroger chain), all of the shopping carts have a built-in cup holder and there's a coffee cart and soda fountain just inside the door, encouraging shoppers to sip while they shop. Guess some are just too prudish to do more than breathe and walk while in public unless it's done in their cars.

        November 5, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • jimbo

      You are one of those people who like say, "Whatever! I do what I want!!" aren't you?

      Do you text while driving? Run stop signs because they are an inconvenience to you? I have never been so hungry or thirsty that I needed to break open a container while shopping. I am sympathetic to people with your condition of self imposed weakness.

      November 5, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Ryan

      Who needs to taste a grape? I know what a grape tastes like, I don't ask them to let me taste the apples or broccoli before I buy it. You're trying to justify your bad behavior. If you're walking around eating stuff in the grocery store and it didn't come from a point of sale cafe or something they have you're a friggin pig and have no manners. I won't hold myself to the standards of the lowest common denominator, I'm not gonna start behaving like a slob just because other people do.

      If you start tucking into the Oreo's or grapes you are planning to buy while you're shopping you're a pig.

      November 5, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • miscreantsall

      As usual………….lots of ignorant comments.

      Retail grocers operate (that is, WELL run stores or companies) on a one to two and half cent net profit. Many do not even make a penny on the dollar.

      Sampling is one thing………it's allocated and accounted for. This has NOTHING to do with the subject at hand.

      "Did you pay for it"????? No? YOU ARE STEALING!!

      All this crap of I forgot, or I intended to, or the baby was crying…………….absolutely ridiculous.

      For those that do not agree: It's always about you….isn't it? Your rationalizations is what it's all about, right?

      You did not pay for it so you are not entitled to it in any way until you pay for it. It's that simple. All the other stuff are stories………….stories that people make up to justify their behavior.

      Oh………………most of you all make me wish for the Mayan's 2012 thing to happen.

      November 5, 2011 at 2:51 am |
      • Genie from the Lamp

        About that last line – DING! Wish granted!
        Now you will die on the Mayan's magic date and never have to deal with us miscreants again. Happy now?

        November 7, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  18. fiveonetwo

    LOVE it when I see people at Whole Foods stick their hands (or better yet, watch their snotty kids put their hands) in the bulk bins and just eat whatever the hell they want, figuring it's just a small handful or whatever....absolutley GROSS! Not only are they STEALING (a lot of times they double dip), but they're using their hands, which God knows where the hell they've been....

    Nasty, tacky, and trashy. Does anyone have the class to WAIT any more? As in WAIT until you've PAID?

    November 5, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  19. Klw

    It's not that you're stealing it. It's that you eating while you shop is rude and often disgusting. I think it's a cultural thing – we are tempered to look past it when someone eats their lunch on a park bench or in a lounge or something but there are other places where it is considered inappropriate to open up food containers. You might think it's odd that some people find eating to be rude in a place that's full of food, but if you look from their perspective, that's not odd at all. It's not a matter of objective moral truth; it's a manner of what a certain society finds to be acceptable public behavior. We've gone through this same debate with breastfeeding – where is it acceptable to engage in this sort of behavior? One day it may change – but where I'm from it's pretty rude to stuff your face in the middle of the supermarket, especially if you're messy.

    November 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Klw

      I think it might be because eating is considered an unsanitary activity and many people see grocery stores as ideally sterile public environments. In the same way that there are certain places for smoking, there are certain places for eating.

      November 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • The level headed one

      Wow. So now the self-righteous are going to start telling people where they are allowed to eat and drink? Most stores now have snack bars selling drinks, hot dogs, popcorn, etc. They own the store, they think its fine for people to snack while they shop, but I guess you think you have the final say in what should happen in their store. You don't find it acceptable for people to walk around while eating in a grocery store, so that alone makes it wrong? You put a lot more value on your own opinions than they are worth. Do you publish a list of places you approve of the rest of us eating? Can we enjoy a snack while watching a movie? Walking around an amusement park?

      June 8, 2014 at 5:04 am |
  20. kopps

    These giant, big-box stores are asking for it. No one is watching the patrons or the employees. They are just too big! My little corner grocery store has expanded and I hate it.

    November 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  21. Johnbe

    You can drive a car before paying for it, you talk on your phone before paying for it, there are so many things you do before paying for it. My time is valuable, so I shop during my lunch break and eat lunch at the same time. The package is there and I always pay for it. I can see not doing it if it is pay by pound, but bag of chips, soda and sandwich are not. I wish I had the luxury to sit down and enjoy lunch but I have my lunch while doing something else and that includes shopping. Once I forgot and the cashier just reminded me, I was so embarrassed, I never forgot again. Now I always put the wrappers in front now so I won't forget. If they don't want me to eat in their store then they should put up a sign and I WON'T SHOP THERE. I can spend my money elsewhere, and certainly not at a Safeway.

    November 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • POV

      Test driving a car is a bad analogy. Not comparable at all. You have to pay for your food at a drive thru before you can eat it. The food in the grocery store isn't yours until you pay for it. And while there are some who claim they intend to pay, most do not. And if you or your child can't wait until you pay for your food to eat it, go to a restaurant. It's wrong, it's bad manners, it's gauche. And that is why so many whine about it. They want to be ill mannered, gauche and don't care about right or wrong.

      November 5, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Delta@Jhonbe & POV

      I'm getting the feeling this is like the abortion issue: both sides are very passionate that their side is the correct one. And the answer is both sides are right if they can live with the consequences of their choice.

      Back to the topic of eating while shopping, I don't see a problem as long as the store doesn't have a policy against it, you don't eat like a pig and pay for it before you leave the store.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  22. Jane

    If you are that hungry before shopping, go and purchase the item you so desperately need, eat it, then do your grocery shopping. - My children can wait the 20 minutes we are in the store and get their snack or treat when we get to the car. - Eating something that does not belong to you (because you have not yet paid for it) is stealing.

    November 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • yachief

      So do you pay for your food at the Olive Garden before eating it?

      November 5, 2011 at 12:54 am |
      • Nomad

        Non sequiter.

        November 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • The level headed one

      And what gives YOU the right to dictate other's actions? If they tell you that you have to eat things before you pay for them, would you listen to them? If you don't want to eat while you shop, don't do it. That's your business. If someone else does, they can do it. Its their business. What they do doesn't affect you, and you shouldn't be trying to impose your rigid customs onto others. Get a life.

      June 8, 2014 at 5:08 am |
  23. Sabrina

    Eating while you're shopping is just plain gross, right up there with changing your baby's diaper on the bench in front of the pet department. I've seen people go up to the deli in our store, get a bag of greasy chicken wings and walk around the store sucking on the bones and grabbing groceries with their greasy fingers. I get tired of stepping on gummy bears and popcorn chicken that kids drop on the floor. I found an apple that had been 3/4 eaten set on the floor down a frozen aisle. I've watched a teenage boy slog down a half gallon of chocolate milk, belch loudly and leave the jug sitting on a display.......and mom didn't say a word. I've found opened singles of soda on shelves, some had only a sip or two taken out and some were half empty. I would love to go to the dressing room with brand new clothes and change into them and wear them while I shopped. What are the chances I could do that at ANY store?? Theft is theft. Whether it's clothing, music cds, movie dvds, or food, STEALING IS STEALING. We do not have time to police every single person who is in our store. Everyone is a potential thief as far as we are concerned and watch them as such.

    November 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Marilyn

      I love stores where they stare at you like you're going to steal something. I walk around suspiciously eying and fondling items, tightly clutching my bag, occasionally looking into it, dipping my hand in and out, then I get amusement watching the eyeballs bulge on uptight, suspicious people like you. I'd never actually steal something but it sure is fun to freak you people out.

      November 6, 2011 at 10:52 am |
      • Tiffinie

        HAHA! Love it.

        November 16, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • The level headed one

      What type of Nazi store are you working for? I'd love for you to say the name of it. Their policy is to view everyone that comes into their store not as a customer, but as a thief? I call BS. There isn't a store in this country with that policy. I believe you are a boldface liar. Prove me wrong. Give me your name and the name of the store you work at. I'll be happy to verify their policy for you. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it. But I'm not.

      June 8, 2014 at 5:12 am |
  24. Rod C. Venger

    It's stealing if you do not pay. If someone forgets, we only have their word that they intended to pay. Maybe they did. Or maybe they get a lot of free lunches by "forgetting". Regardless, only once in my life have I ever opened an item while in the store. I was driving home, the temp outside was 110 degrees, I was out of soda, so I stopped at Wally World for a bottle of Pepsi. I opened it and drank half of it while I was standing in line and just waggles the bottle at the clerk and handed her $2. I see people, mostly fat women, eating while they shop all the time. Their husbands can't understand why the don't lose weight! Well, yo wife is eating for 3 while she shops and picking at salad while you look on at dinner. Wise up!

    November 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  25. jeff

    It doesnt matter when, or where she ate the sandwich. She left the store with the sandwich, without paying. Case closed.

    November 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  26. chulosmom

    I've drunk a bottle of chocolate milk while shopping and the empty bottle is the first thing that goes on the conveyor belt when checking out. Most grocery stores have you pay for the sandwiches before they give them to you. On the other hand I have to admit that I have tasted a grape before buying them. I'm not going to buy grapes that are really sour. When my son was a baby there were times that we would buy baby cookies and give him a few, if we forgot to bring something with us, They were iitems that were prepackaged and always were paid for before leaving. The problem would be if it's a bulk item sold by weight. If you have to have that apple then pay for them prior to doing the rest of your shopping, That way there is no confusion as to whether the item has been paid for or not. All you have to do is show the receipt to the cashier when you check out and you're good to go.

    November 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  27. le30ch28

    Ok who ever says that they don't do this (snack in the store while you shop) is a total liar....because I see more and more people do that each time I go to the store and I am not going to deny I do it too....

    November 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Ryan

      Uhh no, I don't...and people who do should be embarrassed. Slobs and animals.

      November 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • QTPi

      I'm not a liar. I have never done that because it is stealing. Sampling or grazing as you go is stealing. How can you pay for something once you have eaten it. If the product was wrapped and the price could be rung up during check out that would be acceptable but the person would have to put the empty wrapper through the checkout. How could someone "forget". The wrapper should be in the cart... not in their purse. Eating without paying is stealing, shame on you.

      November 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
      • The level headed one

        It isn't stealing. Educate yourself on the laws before making yourself look like an idiot. It is not stealing until you leave the store with merchandise that has not been paid for. Stuffing items down your pants, planning to steal them, isn't stealing until you leave. You can walk around the store all day long with your pockets stuffed with items and, as long as you either put them back or pay before you leave, it simply isn't stealing. It doesn't matter if you carry the merchandise in your hand, on your head, in your pocket or in your belly. As long as you pay before you leave, it simply isn't stealing. Are you this asinine when you go into Red Lobster or Outback? Do you pay for your meal before you take a sip of your drink? No? Well, then that's stealing, by your definition. Ignorance can be cured through education. Stupidity has no cure.

        June 8, 2014 at 5:20 am |
    • Geno

      I don't do it either, but I also see it happen all the time. in fact, the ones I see do it just toss the empty package back onto some shelf. Now that is stealing. Since you seem to think it's OK to take another persons property without paying for it or being offered it, I'm sure you would be Ok with someone siphoning half a gallon of gas out of your car once in a while.

      November 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  28. Jeff

    I live near the store in question. There is a McDonalds and a Burger King 200 feet away in one direction and a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut in the other. On the other side there are several plate lunch places, a convenience store, restaurants and a subway. Because of the one way streets in the area, there is NO WAY for her to get into the store without passing any of those restaurants. Any thief who gets caught will almost always give that excuse, Oh, I meant to pay for that! as their justification. Plus in Hawaii, most foods are sold by the pound so if you eat an apple or snack on a few grapes, they can't be weighed to determine their price. What she says is one thing, but both her AND her husband didn't speak up while at the register and that was their actions.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Jeff

      Oh yeah, forgot to mention, caddy cornor to the store is a hopsital so if she crashed, help was right there.

      November 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

      I can tell by the fascist, mean, Nazi-esque comments on this board why the US is a 3rd world police state. You people would throw someone in jail for literally five bucks! Then you would claim they were stealing, when they bought $50 in groceries along with their $5 "theft". And you would do all of this with no evidence!

      Americans are:
      -fat and sickly
      -they hate eachother
      -they can't reason
      -they LOVE religion but they hate the mercy/values that religion teaches. Jesus probably loves putting people in prison, right?
      -they are mentally deficient

      You want to know why you have the biggest prison population in the world? Want to know why TSA is grabbing people at airports (including children)? Why you are ALWAYS at war with someone? Why you have the worst health? Why you are fat? Why the only social life you idiots have is the mega church? Why your wages are stagnant? Why you are in so much debt your great-great-great grandkids will be poor? Why everyone in the world rips you off and sends your kids to farflung battles so they can make money? Look in the mirror and view your fat, mean, stupid self America. The rest of the world laughs at you morons (except for maybe the Middle East, with whom you have MUCH in common).

      November 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
      • Skinny&NiceAmerican

        By writing such hateful things about, too, have become American. Congratulations. The story was about a woman who ate a sandwich without paying. Way to blow it up into something so pathetic and generalized. I bet your country is just amazing...

        November 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
      • Tiffinie

        Remember not to feed the trolls, Ladies and Gentlemen.

        November 16, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  29. Mike

    The first thing I always do before shopping is grab a 12oz soda or water to drink while I shop. I always pay and never have any issues.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  30. Rick

    Geez, people, it's not that big a deal. If you read the articles on this at all, you'd know that she was a. pregnant, b. new to the area, and c. had just spent hours trying to find a grocery store so she and her husband could stock up. On top of that, she's a military veteran with no criminal history. If you don't think the grocery store overreacted, your priorities are seriously screwed up.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      I was pregnant not too long ago so I know what its like to be starving because I ate every at least every 2 hours around the clock, even getting out of bed starving in the middle of the night. It sucks but by 30 weeks (and it being her second child) she should know how hungry she could get. I do believe they also overreacted but there is fault on both sides. Pay for your sandwich on the way in and don't put someone through THAT much over less than $10 that she planned on paying anyway.

      November 5, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Elle


      November 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  31. Klw

    Eating food before you pay for it is just weird. It's like putting on a shirt in a clothing store and then asking the cashier to scan your arm for the price. Sure you intend to pay for it but it just seems incredibly rude to me, especially to the other shoppers.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Klw

      I think the store basically has to invite you to consume the product before you should make that presumption. For instance, I wouldn't read a a book cover to cover in a bookstore unless the bookstore deliberately puts down chairs for me to do it and I would try on clothes unless the clothing store has dressing rooms. In the same, way I don't think you should eat in a grocery store unless it's also a restaurant with a sanitary eating area.

      November 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Tati

      I do not think you have any children, do you?

      November 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Elle

      People eat food before they pay for it all the restraunts.

      November 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  32. LL72

    Frankly, I'm tired of people feeling sorry for this woman. I am also a veteran AND a mom. That doesn't mean you lose your mind and all common sense goes out the door when you're pregnant. Really, it doesn't. Was the punishment over-the-top? Perhaps. But good grief, lady. OWN your own part in this already! Take some personal responsibility and LEARN from this. Stop expecting people to bend over backward to support your bad behavior. Mistake or not, you broke the law, and the store acted accordingly. Case closed.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Tati

      From all that barking I guess it is safe to assume that you are a saint and never did anything wrong in your life that you did not owned up to, rigth?

      November 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
      • Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

        Yes, she is a saint. She goes to the mega church every week. Don't you get it?

        November 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

      That's right American moron. Now put that family in prison! Prison and war are the answer to everything. Oh, and only YOU have common sense. YOU never make a mistake.

      November 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
      • Elle

        What on Earth is the "Mega Church" you speak of? And hey "Proof:..." – I will tell you that I hold a degree from a fine university and I'm quite personable. So where's your proof, knucklehead? I think you need a good hug.

        November 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  33. Retail_Guru

    I'm thinking there is more to the story than what is being reported, and I'm sure that we'll never hear the full story since the Safeway managers are most likely being told by Safeway's legal department that they are not allowed to discuss the situation.

    In most states, it is not considered shoplifting until you have actually left the store with unpaid merchandise, so really a crime wasn't committed until she left the store without paying for the merchandise. If she was really intent on paying for the sandwiches, then why didn't she place the wrappers in a conspicuous place in her cart so she wouldn't forget? The articles I've read stated that they only bought $50 worth of groceries, which I'm sure in Hawaii doesn't add up to much, so they couldn't have been in there long enough to have "forgotten" to pay.

    If she put the wrappers in the cart like she says, then why didn't she see them when unloading her cart at checkout? Why couldn't her husband have paid for the sandwiches while she continued to shop? Why is everyone in such an uproar that this happened to a pregnant veteran? She should not get special treatment for being pregnant or a veteran. Period.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  34. Daniel

    So let's imagine this scenario.....there's a lady where I work who sells Girl Scout Cookies for her daughter. She puts the boxes in front of her desk to advertise the fact. What if I just walked up, took a box, opened it up and started munching...she would be furious. But It's okay...I'm going to pay her when I leave work in the evening. (Assuming I remember to.)

    Until you pay for it, it's still the property of the store. They shouldn't have to keep track of everyone eating their inventory to make sure they pay for it later.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

      Exactly: put those families who eat a few grapes in the grocery store in jail! Then they will learn how to behave like a saint, just like you!

      November 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  35. Liz

    I think its extremely poor taste to eat food in a store even if your intending to pay. She easily could of brought something to snack on while walking around; she is pregnant however so I give her some leeeway on that. There's absolutely NO need for a sign that says "do not eat or open packages" its just common sense not to do so in a store and the fact they called the police over a 5 dollar sandwich is just ridiculous. No one should have to go through that especially when they fully intended too and tried to pay. The management was completely ridiculous its not ilke they pumped the tank full of gas and tried to drive off. When I worked in retail we never bothered calling security on kids we caught doing stupid stuff like writing with Pens we clearly put a sign up that said "no testing pens" we made them pay and they paid end of story. Now if they refused we'd of called security and if they blatantly shoplifted we'd of called security. We even had smaller children open candy without their parents realizing they were near it and asked them to pay and they'd pay we only had to call security once in that case. We called security because the mom went bat shit accusing us of accusing her of trying to skip out when thats not the case she never saw her kid with that candy and then she of cousre physically attacked the employee that asked her politely to please remember to pay for the candy. People are so riciulous sometimes this is a huge case of ridiculousness they should of let her pay and be done with it. The fact the cops even arrested her over it just defies logic and only cost them time and the city money.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  36. anthony

    As for consumer protection, if the grocery stores want the customers must pay first then they must post a sign in front of their stores to indicate that.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Geno

      You just made that up, didn't you?

      November 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  37. Elle

    I am outraged by the jaded and biased comments that I am reading in the blog. I suspect that the woman and her husband could have handled the consequences of their actions (being charged with a misdemeanor); however, the very thought of a pregnant woman without a criminal record being arrested over a $5 sandwich is heart breaking. Even worse, is the fact that her two-year-old daughter was placed in protective custody over a the same $5 sandwich.

    We can talk about morality all day long, but I suspect that each of us has made a small mistake in our lives (speeding, forgetting to pay at a store, not paying our car taxes on time, etc.), and when those mistakes happened, I don't think any of us would have been able to stomach having our children taken from us and placed into foster care. The issue isn't the sandwich; the issue is the severity of the situation that followed.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Beek

      My thoughts exactly. Where have we gone wrong when such an innocent mistake turns into such an incredible nightmare. Lord help us all.

      November 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Tati

      I am glad I did not get arrested when my then 2 year old put a small vegie brush in his stroller and I only saw it at home. I guess they could have arrested me for the $2 brush too and put him in protective custody... How rediculous is that.

      November 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Manu

      Yes, the outcome of this situation was severe, and I suspect that this couple may think twice before they make their next "mistake." I hope they do so that their young daughter will not have to face such a situation again.

      November 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  38. Jonesy

    I was at the grocery store one night and saw an old man in a scooter just shoveling grapes in his mouth with no remorse whatsoever....I'm not gonna lie though, I just chuckled at him.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  39. spydermonkie

    If you haven't paid for it then it's stealing. plain and simple.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  40. Real

    It's a grocery store, not a restaurant. You don't own it until you paid for it. (.)

    November 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  41. Sandy

    I open drinks at the market, they have cases of them cold so one can just grab it and drink it, one of the Lucky stores has a big refrigerated case right next to the entrance of nothing but individual drinks. I don't see the problem with that at all. The checker even gives me my open drink so I can finish it without it getting buried in the other groceries. I think the only other thing I may "try" are grapes because it's hard to tell if they're sweet or sour and I hate to buy a bunch of sour grapes. As long as you pay for what you take before you leave the store, it's not stealing. It would be much worse if I started yelling at people because my sugar level crashed.

    November 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Susan in Warrenville

      Sandy, most stores now have softdrink machines outside the entrance, just for this reason. (Some even have snack machines.)

      I'm so glad you think it's okay to steal grapes! Please post your address so we can help ourselves to the grapes in your fridge, since that would not be stealing!!

      Seriously, if every time you went to the store and paid for grapes, they "forgot" to put them in your bag, wouldn't you have a problem with that? Or would it be okay because "they are only grapes"?

      November 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
      • Rick

        "Most stores" do not actually have soda machines outside. In fact, the only store I can think of that typically does is Walmart. Even so, the store still has soft drink refrigerators at the checkout lanes, and most do; it's for "impulse shopping," and no store manager in their right mind is going to fuss over a customer grabbing one and opening it as they check out.

        Eating while shopping might be in poor taste, but when someone has been on buses for hours trying to find a grocery store, and that someone is a pregnant and hungry woman, maybe giving her a pass to eat while she shops isn't such a bad idea. Treating her like a criminal because she forgot about the sandwich is ridiculous and petty.

        November 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
      • Tati

        Get a life, Susan. It is b/c of people like you someone gets arrested for eating and forgetting to pay for a sandwich.

        November 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
      • Manu

        Actually, Tati, it's their own fault if they get arrested for eating something and not paying for it.

        November 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
      • Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

        Americans don't eat grapes. They eat cheetos. OK? Anyway, so your mega church said you are an angel, so you get to judge who is stealing and who is not, right?

        November 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Real

      "It would be much worse if I started yelling at people because my sugar level crashed."

      I did that today.

      November 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
      • Laura

        Knowing that you have a 'sugar' condition, you could also be sure that you're prepared with a little snack BEFORE you start running errands. whether you eventually pay for it or not, if you've ingested something from a grocery store before paying for it, it's STEALING. i see people do it all the time when a bratty kid wont leave them alone. they let the kid eat chips or cookies in the cart. How about learning how to parent so your kid learns not to act out in public rather than appeasing the kid by giving him what he wants every time he throws a tantrum? No child or adult is going to die of starvation by having to wait a few minutes to get through the checkout line. I'm happy that this couple was charged with theft. If the wife was pregnant and just HAD to have something to eat, I'm sure she was aware of her pregnancy before she left the house. Why not grab something to snack on to carry with her?

        As for you yelling at people because your sugar crashed, I HOPE the person you yelled at cursed you out HARD for it. Don't get mad at the world because of your condition. You shouldn't be walking around unprepared.

        November 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
      • Guest

        Laura- That was the best statement ever!! I couldn't have said it better myself...LOL!!

        November 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
      • Real

        Laura, that was essentially the most foolish comment I've ever read. If you had bothered to read another comment of mine, posted hours prior to yours, you'd have seen that my standpoint was in favor of not eating things at the grocery store until they're paid for. What's this nonsense you post about hoping the person I yelled at cussed me out and then attempting to make a self-righteous judgment of me and a condition of mine - all without knowing anything other than that I yelled at someone because my blood sugar crashed? You sure make yourself look foolish when you assume something without knowing any facts. My blood sugar crashed without me knowing about it. Preparing for it was impossible, since the crash occurred sometime during my sleep and the person I yelled at was on a telephone only minutes after waking up (completely unaware of blood sugar crash) to discover that someone made a very serious error that caused me a very serious amount of undue and unjustified stress. While the people I was talking to certainly deserved the majority of the harshness, I wouldn't have reacted the way I did if my blood sugar had been at a safe level. The entire situation was completely abnormal in general. Now, the next time you want to lecture someone on something, you better darn well know what you're talking about - especially if you're going to pretend to have some moral authority over another human being. (moral authority does not exist anywhere on this planet btw) Have a nice day, kiddo.

        November 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
      • Get Real@Real

        Stand down Laura, I've got this.

        Real, if you are knowingly susceptible to sugar crashes, you have no one to blame but yourself. If you have had ONE, you could have one again if you don't find out what caused it. Laura is absolutely correct that you are responsible for being prepared for such an inevitability. You also have a responsibility to yourself and the people you scream at to find out what causes it and take steps to prevent it.

        Blood sugar crashes are preventable. You just have to take some time, investigate and find your triggers. Good luck.
        I know because the same time happens to me. I got sick if apologizing to my loved ones and taxing their patience.

        November 7, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • Julie

      Sandy – you sound like a real boor.
      Being hypoglycemic is no excuse to go pigging into stuff at the grocers. My mother gets low sugar jags and knowing that, she deals with it by keeping stashes of candy or little snacks where she can always get at them – in her purse, jacket pockets, glove box. That's how polite grown-ups deal with their problems instead of yelling at others and stuffing their faces with the nearest food they can lay hands on – even if it isn't theirs.

      People who eat in grocery stores also contribute to messy carts, pens at the checkout, crumbs on floors, etc.
      It's tacky behavior.

      November 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  42. anthony

    recently, I saw a lot of comments which said that it must pay first. If so, then all of those made the comments like that should pay first when they go to the restaurants, also pay everything first before the vendors deliver services to them.

    November 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Susan in Warrenville

      No, because a restaurant has an entirely different business model from a grocery store. At restaurants, partons are expected to consume the meal before they pay - at groceries, they are not. And even in a restaurant, if you leave without paying you have committed theft.

      November 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
      • anthony

        Your sound like you are a MBA who knows all business models. I am not so my argument is just there is no sign from the store forbid you to consume before you pay then you don't need to pay first. I agree that we must pay before we leave the store but in this case, the woman may forget and should be accepted to pay when she realize that she forget.

        A lot of other services indicate clearly that you must pay first such as at gas stations...

        November 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Jonesy

      That's fine if the restaurant operated that way...but most don't.

      November 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
      • The level headed one

        Most restaurants DO operate that way dumbass. McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Jack-In-the-Box, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Cicis, Braums, KFC, Carl's Jr., In-n-Out Burgers, Johnny Rockets, Sonic, Hardees, DelTaco, Subway, Chipolte, Chick-fil-a, Long John Silvers, Panda Express, On The Border, Five Guys, Churchs, Arbys.....the list goes on. They far outnumber the restaurants that don't require you to pay first. If a store wanted their customers to pay for everything first, they would make them do that, just as these restaurants do. But they don't. So don't tell me I can't enjoy some M&Ms or beef jerky while I'm shopping unless I pay for it first, and don't tell me I have to pay for my lobster before I eat it when I'm at Red Lobster.

        June 8, 2014 at 5:34 am |
    • Laura

      That is the dumbest logic I've ever heard.

      November 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
      • Ames

        Are you enjoying the view from your high horse yet? Sounds like you must be uber-prepared at all moments of your life. If you feel the need to eat or drink something, I don't see what the big deal is as long as you save the container for the checkout lines. As for crumbs getting everywhere as someone said, there are a lot worse things on your shopping carts than crumbs. Also, many grocery stores encourage people to eat in them as they have tables and chairs. Is our society so "Puritan" that we can't see that this lady made an honest mistake and I could really give two flips if people eat in a store, so long as they pay.

        November 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • POV

      "recently, I saw a lot of comments which said that it must pay first. If so, then all of those made the comments like that should pay first when they go to the restaurants, also pay everything first before the vendors deliver services to them."

      Anthony, we do. It's called fast food and delivery or COD.

      November 5, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  43. kenny

    the most i will ever do in a store is open a drink very occasionally, esp if i am waiting in a long line...when my mother was alive she would do the same but that was bc she was diabetic and her sugar was crashing...i do it just because i am thirsty...but i will ALWAYS pay for it...

    November 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  44. popeye1128

    There's a thing called manners and one called crudeness. This behavior falls under the latter and lacks the former. Just the way I was raised.

    November 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • The level headed one

      I'm sorry to hear that. i know not everyone has good parents. At some point, however, one must start taking responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming their parents. You don't have to be a self-righteous stiff your entire life.

      June 8, 2014 at 5:35 am |
  45. WJR

    Sometimes if there's a soda or iced tea aisle at the start of the store, I'll grab one to drink while I'm shopping. I always keep the bottle and let them scan it at the end. Why should I shop thirsty? I think eating food... especially things that are messy or weighed upon purchase... is probably wrong.

    November 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  46. margaret

    Eating while shopping is not good manners in my book. However, being pregnant can be hard, really, really hard. At 30 weeks, you are building and feeding two people and carrying them both around at the same time. I feel badly for the mother. She was hungry, ate something, meant to pay, messed up. I get it: tired, hungry pregnancy brain. What I don't get is why the man was eating. He isn't pregnant and should know better.
    Once, when I was pregnant, I ate a roll while I was shopping. I could feel my blood sugar crashing, I needed to eat something. I got a roll. Probably I should have eaten it while waiting in line at the bake shop, paid the cashier and then gone on with my shopping. I didn't, though, and after paying for my full pile of groceries, as I exited, I realized I had not paid for the roll, turned around, went back and did so, and moved on with my day. No one cared, except for me, as I was really embarrassed that I had been desperate enough to eat in the store and then make the mistake of not paying.
    Everyone lost in the story. The grocery store looks stupid for what it did to a pregnant woman (what were the store managers thinking? They must have been young men: Never been pregnant, never lived with a pregnant woman) The pregnant woman looks stupid for having eaten without paying. The husband should have sucked it up and not eaten in the store in the first place. The poor little kid was taken away from her parents for a day. The whole thing was needlessly stupid.

    November 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Proof: Americans are stupid and mean

      Welcome to the police state. It is so great. Wall street criminals take billions from middle class people, but if worker bees make a five dollar mistake, they go to jail.

      November 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
1 2 3 4
| Part of

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,974 other followers