A woman’s report of a man taking pictures of her child inside a Montgomery County Starbucks has sparked a police investigation.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was inside the Starbucks in East Norriton Township Tuesday when she spotted a man taking pictures of her child. The woman spoke to a Starbucks employee about it but was told they couldn’t ask the man to leave, according to Natalie Mittica, who shared the woman’s Facebook post about the incident.
“The barista said, ‘I’m sorry, he’s been here all week doing this but we can’t ask him to leave,’” Mittica said.
East Norriton Township Police Detective Michael Hendricks told NBC10 that while the man’s actions were upsetting, they were not illegal. Hendricks said they’re still investigating, however, and have identified the man. They hoped to determine his motive.
“When these incidents do occur, it’s not just to sit there and say, ‘Well, it’s not illegal, police are not going to do anything.’ That’s not true. Absolutely call us,” Hendricks said.
A Starbucks spokesman said he can’t yet say if that is what actually occurred and the company is still investigating.
Starbucks corporate communications said it's not the company's policy that they can't ask someone to leave. If a guest is not creating a “welcoming experience” for the rest of the customers then that person can be asked to leave by staff of the store, Starbucks told NBC10.
Starbucks laid out its new policy made in the wake of the controversial arrests of two men at a Center City Starbucks on its website: "If a situation presents an immediate danger or threat to partner or customer safety, Starbucks partners should call 911."
NBC10 also spoke to a woman inside the East Norriton Starbucks who identified herself as a district manager. The woman said we couldn’t record inside the store due to the privacy of the customers. When asked why they didn’t object to a man taking pictures of a child without the mother’s consent, the woman had no comment.
If the man was asked to leave by the barista remained under investigation. East Norriton Township Police and Starbucks continue their investigations.