Safeway president drops sandwich charges, offers apology

Although many agree with Safeway's handling of the situation, the chain welcomes the family back

Safeway has decided not to press charges over sandwiches stolen from a Honolulu supermarket.

On Tuesday, one of the chain’s regional presidents, Karl Schroeder, phoned Nicole and Marcin Leszczynski to offer his condolences. “He apologized for what she’s been through,” spokeswoman Susan Houghton said.

Although Houghton acknowledged that store management followed procedure, it was regrettable that the couple’s 2-year old child was taken away as a result. “We want to do the right thing here,” the spokeswoman told the Associated Press. “Families are important to us.”

That was consolation for expectant mother, Nicole.

“I feel relieved that the charges are being dropped and he kind of did make an apology,” she said. “Now that we have our daughter back and we’re not in jail, that’s our biggest concern.”

Nicole and Marcin Leszczynski were arrested and their 2-year old daughter Zofia was taken for 18 hours by Child Protective Services over $5 worth of sandwiches at a Honolulu Safeway. Screenshot via AP

The day after the incident, Nicole told reporters that she emailed Safeway to say that they didn’t mean to take the sandwiches without paying. “It was just a slip, a mommy-brain moment, I guess,” she said.

Not only does Safeway accept that the couple forgot to pay, Houghton said that they are also no longer banned from the store.

The controversial shoplifting case has caused a ripple through the Safeway chain and will undoubtedly change how managers and employees are trained. “In this case, it was not handled in the appropriate manner and we wanted to correct that,” Houghton said.

The incident has ignited nationwide outrage on both sides of the issue.  Many people believe there is no excuse for eating sandwiches in the store before paying for them. According to Nicole, “I didn’t know it was such a taboo thing. Where I grew up in a small town it’s not seen as stealing for sure.”

Still others feel that even with intent, there is no excuse for taking away the couple’s child. “Rules are rules, but come on this is ridiculous,” one commenter wrote.

While the couple no longer needs their lawyer to fight the criminal charges, the question remains whether the couple will file a suit. “I haven’t even considered it because I was just so worried about the charges,” Nicole said. “I do feel like something went terribly wrong and we were abused in some way.”

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