Pregnant, Belly, Hands

Woman Accused Of Hiding Stolen Merchandise Under Shirt; Turns Out She's Pregnant

August 14, 2018

No no, North Carolina woman Sherell Bates was not trying to steal merchandise while back-to-school shopping at Staples. 

The 34-year-old was accused of such by a Staples manager in Pineville, North Carolina, due to the rather large bump Bates was sporting under her shirt.  When  a police officer asked what she was concealing under there, Bates answered "Twins."  She thought he was joking, as she's 34 weeks pregnant with a boy and a girl.  He was not joking.  The manager asked the officer to inspect her, and eventually Bates relented and lifted her shirt a tiny bit to reveal her growing belly.  Bates told WSOC-TV, "Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need."

The manager ended up being fired after the incident, though she plans to contact Staples corporate, and possibly seek legal action.  She said, "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."  At the very least, she hopes in the future, Staples will provide sensitivity training to its employees.

Staples released a statement on the matter saying:

On Friday at our Pineville location a Staples’ manager mistakenly assumed a customer was shoplifting and reported this assumption to a police officer visiting the store. The police officer questioned the customer and quickly confirmed there was no theft. Based on the outcome, Staples’ issued a full refund to the customer. 

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 stores, and work with our associates to foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer as that was not the case in this instance.