A retired couple found out that shoplifting charges at Wal-Mart can be literally a load of crap. According to Associated Press accounts, Charlie and Cheryl Gastorf were shopping last March at a Wal-Mart in Oregon, and in their confusion, forgot to include $10 worth of steer manure on their bill. Wal-Mart’s ever-vigilant loss prevention team apparently nailed the older couple in the parking lot, and charged them with shoplifting. When the Gastorfs were allowed to tell their story to the Lebanon City Attorney, the charges were dropped. But the Gastorfs’ close encounter with Wal-Mart was not over. They received a letter in the mail from the corporation charging them for a $175 civil claim, supposedly to pay for their court costs in pressing the charges. The Gastorfs made out a check for $175 to Wal-Mart. “We wouldn’t want to embark on a life of crime at our ages and become manure thieves,” the couple told the AP. “I mean, if you were going to steal something, would you steal manure?” Once the case became public, Wal-Mart’s image was covered with, um, steer manure, so the company announced that it had decided to refund the Gastorfs’ for their $175. “It simply seems like the right thing to do,” the retailer said, once the ‘right thing’ had become a national news story.
Wal-Mart’s loss prevention training manual says it will not prosecute alleged shoplifters if they are over 65, or if the amount of the theft is $3 or less. In this case, the Gastorfs could have “stolen” a $3 bag of bull crap, and walked off free as a bird. Or, they could have told Wal-Mart they were over the age of 65. Either way, they got off far luckier than Stacy Driver, another shoplifter who was nabbed this week by Wal-Mart employees, but who died of a heart attack in the Wal-Mart parking lot with several blue-vested employees sitting on him. For that unfortunate ending, search Newsflash by “Driver.”