PALM COAST, FL - Four Florida Home Depot employees have been fired after they attempted to stop a shoplifter last month.
Jeffrey Miller, 59, George Ippolito, 56, Joe Spector, 29, and Jazmin Kelly, 27, on Nov. 19 worked together to try and track down a customer who appeared to be shoplifting at the home-improvement chain's Palm Coast store.
Little did the co-workers know that their well-inentioned efforts were against store policy.
Home Depot spokesman Steven Holmes explained in a statement.
"Pursuing shoplifters in the store or in the parking lot is extremely dangerous and risks the safety of everyone, which is why we only allow trained security personnel to do so," he said. "We've had instances of serious injury and even fatality in our stores. No amount of merchandise is worth risking the safety of others."
The employees spoke out after they were fired from the company last week.
Kelly told WKMG it was never brought to her attention that she wasn't allowed to come into contact with a customer's cart.
"They said I should not have touched the cart, but I wasn't told that I wasn't supposed to touch carts. I was always told you are supposed to ask a customer for a receipt," she said.
Miller said he was "really shocked" by the company's decision.
"I never confronted this individual," he said. "Even if I saw him in a lineup I wouldn't be able to show you what he looked like. All I was doing is getting a license plate (number)."
The suspect was identified as 22-year-old Brandon Charles Edward Mullins Lowe of Hastings, who allegedly admitted to stealing almost $1,000 worth of tools from the store.
Ippolito, who had been working at Home Depot for about a year, said there was more to the incident than just stealing.
"To me, it wasn't about pursuing a shoplifter. I saw a guy crashing a cart into one of the cashiers and I was responding to her aid. Then he looked like he was going to attack Joe. He started dropping all the merchandise, and then he ran away," he said.
Lowe was being held in the Flagler County Jail on grand theft charges.
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