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Kroger Employee Fired After Filming Shoplifters in Action

Grocer claims associate violated its policy against employees intervening in thefts
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Retailers are strategizing to reduce theft and overall shrink.

A Kroger employee was terminated after he filmed shoplifters stealing from a King Soopers store last month in Arapahoe County, Colo.

According to the Daily Mail, Santino Burrola filmed a  now-viral video of a group of shoplifters stealing more than $500 worth of detergent on June 18. He followed the group out of the store and filmed while they unloaded countless cartons into their car, even peeling off a license plate cover to help track them down.

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The retail worker's video of the shoplifters quickly gained traction after he posted it to social media, and it was even shared by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office as they continue to investigate the crime. Thanks to Burrola’s exposure of the license plate, an arrest of one of the suspects has been made. Authorities are still attempting to locate the two other suspects.

However, Burrola's actions allegedly breached the store's policies on confronting shoplifters, and he was fired on the spot after a meeting with his union rep. 

Burrola feels he was unfairly terminated, noting: "All I did was just record criminals and reveal them."

Burrola added that he struggled to see what the issue was with his intervention, which he contended was done in a safe way in hopes of helping to track down the suspects.

“I posted it on TikTok, hoping that somebody would recognize them,” he said. 

He added that he hopes the attention the incident is receiving will stop future unnecessary terminations from happening. 

“I hope this changes the policy, in the handbook or the shoplifting policy, and gives power back to retail workers like myself,” said Burrola. 

Kroger has not responded to Progressive Grocer's request for comment.

Theft Plagues Retail Shrink 

The shoplifting incident in Colorado also underscores how increased crime is affecting retailers' operations. Theft accounts for a vast majority of retail shrink, ranging from self-checkout scams to blatant shoplifting and everything in between. During Target’s first-quarter earnings report, CEO Brian Cornell didn’t shy away from discussing the retailer’s current predicament and outlook on the issue. Cornell expects overall shrink – driven mainly by theft and organized retail crime – to reduce the company’s profitability by more than $500 million this year when compared with last year. 

“While there are many potential sources of inventory shrink, theft and organized retail crime are increasingly important drivers of the issue,” Cornell said. “We are making significant investments in strategies to prevent this from happening in our stores and protect our guests and our team. We’re also focused on managing the financial impact on our business so we can continue to keep our stores open, knowing they create local jobs and offer convenient access to essentials.”

Landover, Md.-based Giant Food is also working to mitigate shrink issues caused by retail theft before it’s forced to close its most affected supermarkets. It was reported that the grocer plans to limit the number of entrances to stores to create more obstacles for shoplifters, and also hire security guards — some of them armed – depending on the history of violence in a given store. The retailer additionally intends to keep fewer high-cost items on its shelves, limit the number of items allowed to be taken to self-checkout stands, and put secured items, such as razor blades, in wall dispensers that make noise when items are removed.

“To say [theft has] risen tenfold in the last five years would not be an understatement,” said Giant Food President Ira Kress, noting that violence has also “increased exponentially.”

Meanwhile, Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market closed its Trinity Place location in downtown San Francisco following incidents of theft and crime in the area.

Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Kroger one of the Retailers of the CenturyMinneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, while Giant Food's parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, is No. 10 and Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2.

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