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Sporting goods retail chain reportedly fires employees for chasing after shoplifter who stole firearm: 'I just took off'
Image source: YouTube screenshot

Sporting goods retail chain reportedly fires employees for chasing after shoplifter who stole firearm: 'I just took off'

Three employees at a Louisiana sporting goods store were reportedly fired last month for intercepting a thief who tried to steal a firearm from their store.

On Dec. 16, a routine interaction between an Academy Sports + Outdoors sales associate and a potential customer turned into a crime when that customer ran out of the store with a firearm that he did not purchase.

Michelle Sutton, a team leader at the store, told WGNO-TV that she flung into action when she heard a distressing call over her store radio about the theft.

"I just took off," Sutton said.

Sutton and two other store associates chased after the suspect — but they were too late. The thief was long gone.

Unfortunately, that's not where this story ends.

Four days after the incident, Sutton said Academy's corporate firearm compliance personnel contacted her. But instead of thanking her and her colleagues for attempting to intercept the stolen firearm — noble action considering stolen firearms are frequently used in violent crimes — Sutton was informed that her employment with Academy had been terminated. Her two colleagues were also fired.

Corporate informed the employees they had violated company policy. That policy, according to WGNO, states that employees are prohibited from pursuing or restraining shoplifting suspects.

But Sutton said that while she and her colleagues had technically exited the building, they remained on the sidewalk. They had hoped to obtain information about the shoplifter for police, such as a vehicle tag number.

"I know my store director had said that they want you to be able to get the make and model of a vehicle, you know, maybe a direction in which way the vehicle went," she explained.

Sutton, moreover, said retail stores, especially stores that sell firearms, need clearer expectations for employees.

"Every store that sells firearms, especially pistols that are concealable, need to have clear policy. They need to have extra training. They need to prepare for the unexpected," she said.

Blaze News reached out to a representative for Academy and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office for this story. Neither Academy nor the JPSO returned a response.

Academy employees fired for response to Metairie firearm theftwww.youtube.com

This is not the first time employees have been fired for trying to intercept thieves.

Last year, two Lululemon employees in Georgia lost their jobs after confronting shoplifters; their actions eventually helped police arrest the thieves. Then in July 2023, an employee of a King Soopers grocery store in Colorado was fired for confronting shoplifters as they loaded stolen loot into a vehicle.

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