A Pineville, North Carolina mom of two, who is weeks away from giving birth to twins, is outraged and humiliated after she says she was accused of trying to shoplift items under her shirt at her local Staples.
According to Boston 25 News, Sherell Bates now regrets leaving her house on Friday to go back-to-school shopping, given the treatment she was subjected to.
“Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don’t need,” Bates said.
Bates was in the middle of checking out of the Staples with her back-to-school items for her two other kids when she was approached by an officer.
“Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.”
“Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, ‘Twins,’” she added. “I’m 34 weeks with twins. I’m having a boy and a girl.”
However, the officer didn’t believe her and asked again.
“At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I’m just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates said.
Bates said that when the officer told her that a Staples manager asked him to speak with her because the manager thought that Bates may have been “concealing merchandise.”
Bates then decided to confront the manager.
“When I confronted her about what happened, 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,’” Bates said.
The mother is now planning to contact Staples’ corporate office and is considering legal action.
“You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates said. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that.”
Staples released a statement apologizing for the incident.
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.