An expecting mother was in the middle of purchasing items when she was randomly accused of stealing by a police officer and a manager at Staples.
Sherell Bates of North Carolina experienced a humiliating incident on Friday in the midst of back-to-school shopping for her children. The mother-to-be was in the process of purchasing her items when a police officer approached her.
“Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates told WFXT. “He asked what was under my shirt.”
The woman thought the cop was “joking” and responded to the answer “twins.”
“I’m 34 weeks with twins. I’m having a boy and a girl,” she added.
The police officer was asked by a Staples store manager to confront Bates after the employee believed the mother was “concealing merchandise.”
As Bates continued to checkout at the Pineville store, the officer didn’t believe her and accused her of shoplifting. She then lifted her shirt up just enough “to expose” her belly, so he could see she was “just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies.”
The mother-to-be added, “Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don’t need.”
Afterward, Bates approached the store manager about the extremely embarrassing incident.
“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.'”
The expecting mother plans on possibly pursuing legal action against the company and contacting Staples’ corporate office.
“You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates expressed. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that.”
Staples 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. 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.”