Philadelphia Police are taking a second look at a shoplifting incident after a video surfaces allegedly showing store staff beating the accused thief.
In the video, two men driving by the Family Dollar store at 4701 Girard Avenue in West Philadelphia recorded a man wielding a tire iron, swinging at several store employees on the sidewalk.
The man, identified by police as Ben Robinson, runs from the store’s parking lot towards one unidentified employee in a red shirt. The two men appear to be verbally arguing when the store employee runs and knocks Robinson to the ground.
Robinson is then circled by the employee and two co-workers and punched square in the face. It also appears the man was hit in the head with the tire iron.
The 55-year-old man falls to the ground and struggles to get up. The employees then return to the store.
Philadelphia Police Lt. John Stanford says police were called to the store and arrested Robinson for shoplifting. The employees told officers the man attempted to steal soap and attacked them when he was confronted.
However, Lt. Stanford says, police were never told the employees punched the man – instead only that he fell and hit his head.
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“Clearly the officers weren’t informed of what really had taken place,” he said. “He committed a crime by shoplifting, but that’s not how it should have been handled.”
While the incident happen around 6 p.m. on April 29, the video wasn’t uploaded to YouTube until Wednesday. Lt. Stanford says investigators typically look for surveillance video and gather information from witnesses. But since the men who recorded the video appeared to have driven away, police were unaware of the video's existence.
Lt. Stanford says in light of NBC10.com sharing the video with the department, investigators from the Southwest Detective Division are going investigate the new findings. The department has also shared the video with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
“Theft is theft, but at the end of the day you can’t beat them,” he said. “Especially over a bar of soap.”
Robinson has been charged with several crimes including Aggravated Assault, Robbery and Retail Theft. He was released on $10,000 bail.
A representative for Family Dollar says the store does have shoplifting policies that appear to not have been followed.
"The safety of our Team Members and customers is our first priority, and we take situations like these very seriously.
Please know that we have shoplifting policies in place. Unfortunately, these policies were not evident during the video you shared with us and we are looking into the matter internally."
Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.