Public support mounting for 'shoplifter' mum

Palmerston North mother Emma Watty says she is seeking legal advice on a bill given to her by Farmers after the store accused her of shoplifting.

Ms Watty, 24, was shopping with her 12-year-old niece and 4-month-old baby when she was stopped by Farmers store security in The Plaza, having dropped a $16 bottle of shampoo on her pram and walked out with it last Friday afternoon. She said it was an accident.

Ms Watty was stopped by store security and paid for the item, which she says was in clear view, but was banned from Farmers for two years and handed a "civil recovery demand" of $295.

She was subsequently also banned from The Plaza for two years.

Police attended the incident but she was not charged.

Ms Watty did not think it was fair that she was banned from both places and given a bill to foot for what she says was an act of forgetfulness on her part, and her situation resonated with readers.

The Manawatu Standard Facebook page was inundated with comments about Ms Watty's story by other parents who said they were "watched" by security staff when out with their children. Others said it was an overreaction, and some even called for a boycott of both organisations.

People also took their frustrations to both The Plaza and Farmers' Facebook pages.

Farmers did not respond to the posts.

Ms Watty said she had since been contacted again by The Plaza, who reiterated to her that her case was under review.

Farmers had previously said it was not reviewing the case, but did not respond to a request for an update on that status yesterday.

As a new mum, Ms Watty said she had "no idea" so many mothers "put up" with the level of suspicion they'd since shared with her.

"I've never been in that situation before. It's my first baby."

A law professor and a criminal lawyer both questioned the ability for Farmers to give Ms Watty such a bill, and she has decided to seek legal advice on whether she should pay the sum.

Farmers' national loss prevention manager Nathan Breed said the "demand" covered the "reimbursement of the costs associated with attempting recovery of our goods and administration with the investigation and interview processes".

Manawatu Standard