Four men were arrested and charged after alledgedly stealing $7,000 worth of merchandise from a Georgia Lululemon store. Staff who were present during the robbery called police to report the crime, and were fired for doing so. The men were found and aprehended as a result of the call.
Bayo Allen, 19, Quintavious Gooch, 19, Braylon Shivers, 20, and Nicholas Lynch, 26, were arrested two days after the April 24 robbery that was caught on camera, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. Shivers, Gooch, and Allen remain behind bars at Georgia’s Fayette County Jail.
Shivers was also charged with marijuana possession and is being held on a bond of nearly $17,000.
Surveillance video of the April incident showed thieves grabbing armloads of the pricey athletic brand’s clothing from the Peachtree Corners store.
The video was posted to Facebook last week by Jason Ferguson, husband of former assistant manager Jennifer Ferguson, who said she was fired from the store for calling the police on the masked, hooded thieves.
"This was this group's fifth (maybe close to 10th) time robbing the store with NO ACTION TAKEN by Lululemon to curb the robberies and keep the employees safe," Jason Ferguson wrote in his post.
Lululemon has a policy in their company handbook stating that employees will not interfere with robberies for their own safety. The employees were meant to scan a QR code after the theft, and to essentially brush it under the proverbial rug otherwise.
23-year-old Rachel Rogers, who worked as a store associate, recorded the latest robbery and said that the Peachtree Corners store had been the target of the same group of thieves for weeks, stating that they would consistently rob the store around an hour before closing, snatching merchandise from store fixtures closest to the door, then flee in their getaway car.
A spokesperson for Lululemon told investigators that four men who were wearing the same clothing had been responsible for robbing another Lululemon store in the Atlanta area the same week. It is unclear if the suspects have been charged in both robberies.
Ferguson, a mother of four, was seen yelling for the group to leave the store in the video, as the thieves swiped leggings from a store fixture and an accomplice held the door open.
The employees followed the group outside, not physically trying to stop them, and called the Gwinnett Police Department, whose officers were able to track down the red Subaru SUV used as a getaway car despite the suspects allegedly changing the license plate as they fled.
Ferguson said that the police arrived to the scene quickly to gather statements and expressed concern that earlier robberies at the location had not been reported.
He said that their report led to the suspects being arrested the next day, as they attempted to steal from another Lululemon store in Peachtree City.
Ferguson and Rogers claim that they were fired for trying to stop the thieves and for "breaking employee handbook policy" of not interfering with a robbery.
A spokesman for Lululemon said, "The safety and security of our employees and guests is always lululemon's top priority, and we have policies and protocols in place to uphold a safe environment," according to the Daily Mail.
"We take thefts and vandalism very seriously and our focus right now is supporting our educators, as well as continuing to collaborate with local partners and law enforcement.'
The women said that the company has a policy of reporting robberies internally instead of contacting law enforcement, despite the employee handbook asking staff to call 911 after the suspects have left the store.
In a statement, Lululemon said the two employees were not fired for calling the police, but rather for breaking the company’s policy on physically engaging with the perpetrators, which was put in place for the safety of employees and others. The company stated that employees are instructed, per the employee handbook, to call 911.
Jennifer Ferguson said: "We are not supposed to get in the way. You kind of clear path for whatever they're going to do."
"And then, after it's over, you scan a QR code. And that's that. We've been told not to put it in any notes, because that might scare other people. We're not supposed to call the police, not really supposed to talk about it."
Jennifer Ferguson and Rogers said they were fired for breaking a "zero tolerance policy."
"It wasn't very clear. They didn't give specific reasoning besides just saying they have a 'no-tolerance policy," Rogers said.
This story has been updated with comments from Lululemon, and the headline has been adjusted to reflect the disagreement between the management's understanding and the former employees' account of the incident.
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