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Items Left Behind Still Stolen
by Ron Davis

An attempt to steal merchandise from a California Walmart store must have employees there shaking their heads in disbelief at the boldness-or perhaps stupidity-of the thieves.

The manager of the Walmart store was witness to this recent particular incident. As part of her duties, she “ran the floor” to make sure that all overnight-arriving sales items would be properly displayed or placed in storage.

On that particular night of the attempted robbery, store employees saw a “customer” walking around the store, pushing a rolling basket. Employees also noted that the basket had black-colored items inside. And with the lid off the garbage can, they were also able to observe that it was full of store merchandise.

And that was not all. When the same employee was on a work break, she received a call that there had been a “push-out” in the Walmart garden center. That meant that someone left the store with unpaid merchandise. Her reaction was to run to the garden center. There, she saw policemen and her assistant manager.

She also saw two baskets, a bicycle, and a scooter “all sitting right there just a short way from the exit door.” The policemen then asked her to do a “training receipt,” which involves scanning and ringing up all the merchandise that went out the door and to “total it out.”

Based on her merchandise scans, she counted the items missing: two bicycles valued at $197 and $129, and a scooter that was found nearby and valued at $349.

At trial, the suspect disagreed with the scan. And he testified that Walmart’s figures were in error. He argued that the items that were identified as unpaid were only $896.99. That is because, he said, there was no evidence he intended to steal a scooter (valued at $349) or two bicycles (valued at $197 and $129.) His reasoning obviously carried hopes that he could persuade the court to accept the lower figure, which would mean a lighter jail sentence.

He also argued that it was a friend of his who was seen riding around Walmart on a scooter. Next, he argued that the bicycles were merely used as a device to “prop open for safety reasons.” However, there was no evidence he intended to steal them because, he said, they were left in the store.

Those arguments failed to aid their case, however. The prosecution countered, pointing out that the items taken were in fact thefts. And he added that as to bicycles, there are no requirements that property must leave the premises for the theft to be completed.

(People v Goans, A148135)

Decision: April 2017
Published: May 2017



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