One Kenmore resident is angry after he and his son were locked in a Rite Aid Monday night following a shoplifting.
Ted St. Clair said he and his 17-year-old son were shopping for school supplies around 8 p.m. when they heard what he described as a strange request over the intercom for a manager to come to the front desk.
When they got to the front desk a few minutes later, St. Clair said Rite Aid staff told them they had locked the door, and none of the customers in the store were allowed to leave due a theft.
“I said, I’ll stay, just let me get my son outside,” St. Clair said.
It was at this point, he said, the store manager came out and told them corporate policy didn’t allow anyone to leave. St. Clair said the manager wouldn’t give him more details other than a theft had occurred, and wouldn’t say whether or not the suspect was still in the store or if they were armed or not.
“It was the oddest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” St. Clair said. “I’ve never heard where people say, ‘No, you must stay in here because of corporate police.’ It blew me away, it really did.”
Officers arrived shortly after and let the customers in the store out.
Cindi West is the spokesperson for the King County Sheriff’s Office, which provides police services to the city of Kenmore. She said the suspect came in and asked the employee at the register where codeine cough syrup was kept before jumping the counter and stealing two bottles. The suspect left after taking the bottles.
There were no threats made, and West said she believes the store did the right thing by not trying to stop the shoplifter.
“I think that clearly it’s a policy of the business, and when the manager (locked the doors), he didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I think they did a good job following their policy, and no one tried to grab this guy, which could have turned this shoplift into a robbery and someone could have got hurt.”
The Rite Aid corporate office did not return the Reporter’s request for comment or with information on company shoplifting policy at the time of publication.
The suspect was described by law enforcement as a white male around 5-foot-2, with a small mustache, wearing a dark hoodie, light colored pants and blue shoes with a pink stripe on them.