Couple arrested, three-year-old girl taken into state custody for 18 hours after forgetting to pay for sandwich
Jonathan Benson, staff writer
"We walked a long way to the grocery store and I was feeling faint, dizzy, like I needed to eat something, so we decided to pick up some sandwiches and eat them while we were shopping," said Nicole to KHON, adding that when she and her family proceeded through the checkout to pay for their groceries, they forgot to add in the sandwiches. "It was a complete distracted parent moment."
Consequently, security agents allegedly approached the Leszczynskis as they were exiting the store and asked to see their receipt. Nicole and her husband tried to explain that they had simply forgotten about the sandwiches, and offered to pay for them on the spot. But the agents refused, and the store's manager proceeded to call the police.
When police arrived, Nicole and her husband were arrested and taken into custody. And because they do not have any family or relatives living in the area, their daughter Zophia was taken into custody by Child Protective Services (CPS), where she was held for 18 hours.
"This is unreal this could happen to a family like ours," said Nicole. "We didn't know where our daughter was, didn't know what the situation was, she didn't have any clothes. They just took her right from the grocery store."
Not only was the incident blown way out of proportion by both Safeway and local police, but the arrest and child abduction was completely unwarranted. After all, US law assumes a person is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.
Safeway officials have since apologized to the couple for the incident after previously admitting that the situation "could have been handled differently." The Leszczynskis, however, have not yet indicated whether or not they will press charges against the Safeway store in response.
Sources for this article include:
Nov. 4, 2011