Employees & citizens thwart attempted Burney Rite-Aid theft

WRITER’S NOTE: Several different versions of this incident have been explained and recounted to SCNS, with opinions differing about how this alleged shoplifting happened, as well as what the subject reportedly attempted to steal.

People tend to view things from different perspectives and often have their own opinions about how things occur. Please understand that all information provided in this article came from employees and witnesses at the scene, as well as official radio traffic.

However, as is often the case, trying to obtain one, cohesive version of events sometimes proves impossible, such as with this incident.


BURNEY — Store employees, with help from an eagle-eyed citizen and other customers, thwarted a shoplifting attempt this afternoon at Burney Rite-Aid, when a man allegedly tried to steal merchandise and leave the location.

Although several people with differing accounts of the incident have come forward, none were willing to be identified. But the man, who is reportedly well known to store employees and barred from entering the business due to previous shoplifting incidents, was reportedly stopped as he attempted to leave the store without paying and ultimately returned what he had attempted to steal.


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After returning the store’s unpaid-for merchandise, the man – who was believed to be a transient – was allowed to leave the store, where he remained outside for some time mocking the employees from the store’s parking lot.

Employees and customers worked together to stop an attempted shoplifting at Burney’s Rite-Aid today. SCNS photo

He high-tailed it from the business when he realized a witness had flagged down a passing deputy who happened to drive into the area and was last seen walking northbound on Main St.

One of several people familiar with the incident who declined to be identified, later told SCNS that store employees first became aware of the attempted theft when a customer reported seeing the alleged suspect repeatedly grabbing items from throughout the store and going into the business’s bathroom.

While employees and customers observed the man make several more trips into the store’s restroom with merchandise, and before they had an opportunity to call 911 and report the incident, the man suddenly began to leave the business.

As he walked past the manned registers without making any attempt to pay for his items and walked toward the business’s doors, people inside the store confronted the man and demanded he return whatever store property he had hidden inside his pockets and layers of clothing.

Without protesting the man reportedly told the group of employees and customers he would give them back the property, and immediately returned to them a pair cold-weather gloves.

Other witnesses reported the man had also taken and later returned other items, but that was not able to be confirmed as of this report.

After returning the property, the attempted thief was allowed to leave the store, where he then stood in the parking lot pointing and laughing at the employees, while bragging to passers-by that store employees had accused him of stealing. One of those he spoke to flagged down a passing deputy and reported the incident.

Because he was stopped before actually leaving and had therefore not committed a crime, officials were unable to do much besides take a report with the man’s description. The employees were also told to call 911 if the man returned to the business.

The unknown race man – possibly Hispanic with dark-complected skin – was described as “relatively tall and skinny,” in his late 20s to early 30s, and “kind of raggedy looking.” He was wearing a dirty, black or dark red baseball cap with a flat bill, as well as “lots of zip-up sweaters and flannel layers.”


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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