Mistaken identity leads to man being temporarily banned from Truro supermarket

Harry Sullivan
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TRURO – A Truro man who was banned from entering a Sobeys store because of a mistaken identification, says his shopping days there are over.

Truro resident Andrew MacKay said his shopping days at Sobeys are over after he was banned from the store over what turned out to be a mistaken identity.

“Right now, I plan on not shopping there anymore,” said Andrew MacKay, 27, who said he was stopped by a floor security person at the Prince Street Sobeys on Monday night as he started to head out the door with about $80 worth of groceries he had paid for.

“We’re pretty well known there. I know of lot of employees there and we go there quite often,” he said, referring to his girlfriend who had accompanied him.

“I kind of noticed somebody following me around and I didn’t think nothing of it until I met him at the front door and he stopped me. He never said who he was or anything. He just said ‘excuse me sir, you’ve been verbally warned not to come back into this store again so we’re serving you a no-trespassing notice.’

“I kind of laughed and said, ‘is this a joke or something?’”

MacKay said the security person showed him a still shot taken from the store’s security video of another individual and was told that he had been previously escorted from the premises by the store manager and told not to come back.

“He did resemble me a little bit but you could tell it wasn’t me (because he was heavier set) but he was pretty darned sure it was me,” MacKay said of the security individual.

“I was basically just going to push my way through these people and he held his hand up and said, ‘you are not going to go anywhere, the police are on their way, this is going to be dealt with right now.’”

MacKay said at that point, his girlfriend was asked to leave the store while he waited between the inner and outer doors with the security person and another female employee.

MacKay said he was confined in that area for about half an hour, all the while being scrutinized by other shoppers, including people he knows.

“I was just dumbfounded,” he said. “I was not worried because I could see it wasn’t me in the picture.”

But MacKay said the incident did leave him “completely embarrassed” and feeling like other shoppers were “thinking maybe I was a shoplifter or something.”

When the police arrived, MacKay said the first officer agreed with him that while he did resemble the person in the picture, he also told him “‘I can tell it’s not you.’”

‘Number one, they should have more training or something or have somebody more suitable to do this job that can see these resemblances’ - Andrew MacKay

But when the officer spoke with the security person, he remained adamant it was not a mistaken identity.

“I could hear Mr. (Rob) Rushton just basically saying over and over, ‘That’s him, I know it’s him,’” he said, despite the fact that “nobody that I was speaking to had met this person or seen this person (besides the store manager who was not present).”

MacKay said he called back to the store the next day and spoke to an assistant manager who said he would review the video footage with store security.

Later in the day, he received a call from the store and

was told that the no-trespassing notice was being revoked.

“‘Sorry about the inconvenience, have a nice day,’” he said, as to how the situation essentially ended.

MacKay said he also later received a call from the police who reiterated that the matter had been closed.

In an effort to let bygones be bygones, MacKay said he returned to the store Tuesday evening to do some more grocery shopping but ended up having a less-than-positive experience.

“Last night, going in there, all the employees were staring at me … it was weird going back in there again.”

MacKay said he does not feel it was right to have essentially been deemed “guilty until proven innocent” and he suggested Sobeys would be well served to have more appropriate security personnel.

“Number one, they should have more training or something or have somebody more suitable to do this job that can see these resemblances,” he said. “Or don’t accuse somebody if you don’t know for sure.”

A representative from the store contacted by the Truro Daily News declined to comment on the matter.



Twitter: @tdnharry















Organizations: Sobeys, DAILY NEWS

Geographic location: Truro

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Recent comments

  • Shaun
    April 04, 2015 - 19:46

    This a clear reason why good young ppl in the community leave and move out of province. Because of this small town mentality where ppl have nothing better to do than police the up and coming in the community that are the future of the town. Maybe hopefully one day that will change and the change will come. Until then watch the educated youth leave and make business some place else and not contribute to the growth and sustainability of the community.

  • doop
    March 23, 2014 - 16:09

    The real story here is that the rent-a-cop, basically a hired thug, was allowed to hold Andrew MacKay prisoner until the police arrived, with no legal authority to do so. MacKay hadn't stolen anything - the article says he PAID for his groceries, and was walking out of the store. So he had committed no crime, other than being suspected of being unwelcome in the store. But he was leaving anyway! This hired thug should be charged for unlawfully detaining MacKay, and for libel - his good reputation was damaged by being publically accused of being a trespasser.

    • Kaz
      April 08, 2015 - 18:24

      As a "rent a cop" myself I can say that we are definitely not allowed to restrain anyone like this - we have no more power of arrest than any other civilian. When you see someone who has been served a ban under the protection of property act we have to call the police - if the person leaves we just update the police. The police have all this info on file and can serve any fines or warning to the person's home. This was completely unnecessary and 100% of a security officer taking themselves too seriously.

  • Anita MacLellan
    March 21, 2014 - 18:17

    How totally embarassing - Sobeys so needs to make a public apology to this man!

  • formersecurity
    March 21, 2014 - 10:33

    You should contact the security company and tell them you intend to sue for false arrest and embarrassment. They'll make you an offer on the spot. I worked for a security company and it was part of the orientation, what to do if you falsely arrested someone. You're supposed to profusely apologize and immediately call your boss, who will make the person a financial offer immediately. Sobeys contracts the security company to provide security and loss prevention to the store, it's the company's responsibility, not Sobeys. Call the company!

  • Eli Baker
    March 21, 2014 - 09:15

    Unlawful detainment. False imprisonment. It was also in public which is shameful. They will do this again without better procedures in place. It's probably not worth your time but I'd get a lawyer... not for the few thousand you might get in compensation, but to make sure they don't do it to someone else.

  • Margie
    March 21, 2014 - 06:37

    the security guy was just trying to do his job; it's an unfortunate situation for everyone.

    • CJ
      March 21, 2014 - 08:43

      Trying and Failed to do his job PROPERLY or this would not be an issue... Correct?

  • Byron M
    March 20, 2014 - 22:53

    I am a borderline diabetic. Although there is no such thing, you either are or you aren't diabetic. I know when my glucose is dropping. I feel weak and shaky. Often when shopping at Sobey's and other supermarkets, I will pick up a bottle of Ensure Meal Replacement and drink it or a chocolate bar and eat a few bites. Then I pay for both when I go through the checkout with my other grocery items. The security staff should double check their info/pics before detaining someone and accusing them. Many ppl have others who resemble them. Reading this story it sounds like the security person overreacted to the situation. Give some ppl a uniform and a title and it goes to their head. I don't blame this man for saying he will never shop at Sobey's again. A public apology would serve to exonerate this man. And a direct apology from the security person in front of the store staff..

    • Anon
      June 27, 2014 - 20:06

      That's theft and you can be charged, no matter how you justify it. Next time, stop shopping for groceries and go to the speedy checkout to buy your Ensure before drinking it. "I was going to pay for it" is the #1 excuse when you nab a real shoplifter. It won't go over well.

  • keith cameron
    March 20, 2014 - 22:45

    dont feel bad had the same thing happen at the same store back in nov . was held and treated like a criminal on the side of the road by the truro cops served a paper not to go back in the store so soon as the cops left we went back to the store and the security guy come to the front door with the manager and said thats not the woman i seen . they called the cops give them are plate number and banned her from the store so i know how the young man feels

  • Rm
    March 20, 2014 - 18:32

    That's too bad he was embarrassed that way maybe the security guard needed glasses or just wanted to be a big shot ... They should have been a little more sympathic or offer him some kind of free grocerys no one should go through something like that ..I was thinking yesterday when I was in there there's no security guard here anymore they must be undercover or something ..

  • Aurora
    March 20, 2014 - 17:58

    For honest people these mistakes are embarrassing. At the very least, the manager should have had enough decency to request you ask for him the next time you visited the store so he could speak to you in person about it. I probably would have taken the items to customer service and returned every one and headed out to Superstore with the $80. Big stores today just seem to care so little about individual customers.

  • judy kavalak
    March 20, 2014 - 16:32

    This circumstance was not handled properly at all. Did this security officer not have a name of the person who was banned. If he had, the man's ID could have prevented some of this embarrassment. I would think this would make others very uncomfortable for shopping there.

  • judy kavalak
    March 20, 2014 - 16:32

    This circumstance was not handled properly at all. Did this security officer not have a name of the person who was banned. If he had, the man's ID could have prevented some of this embarrassment. I would think this would make others very uncomfortable for shopping there.

  • Scott
    March 20, 2014 - 15:59

    He needs to be talking with a lawyer, a lawsuit is justified!

  • Patricia Mclellan
    March 20, 2014 - 15:37

    I had a bad experience at other Sobeys A woman followed me I had opened a bag of individual rice cakes to way because I was not feeling right I went to self serve and she and 1 cashiers one a supervisor looking at me I moved to another cash and they walked by laughing I said to cashier I don't not what she has with me She's out there glaring at me She came in and said I had opened good and that was shop lifting I told her if she has been paying attention she'd notice I put my stuff way away from me when I was looking at stuff she'd see I sat stuff far away from me People were behind me it was embarrassing I went to service desk and asked to speak to a manager She called a manager who worked overnight so didn't deal with people I told them I worked retail and that I know that shoplifting is when leave store they argued that they were right They called a supervisor who was in office and she took me to food area and told me she agreed the stupid security had the nerve to come over to do her paperwork She snapped to her where will I do it she was told upstairs The sweet supervisor knew me and knew I worked retail She said a manager would call me Nobody did The worse was manager said you are suppose to go find someone which there never is and tell them you need to eat I said what about if a diabetic was taking a low he said same thing Ir was ridiculous I asked at other store whew your problem happened and they agreed with me your problem is so awful it shouldn't of happened No new of it

    • Wandy
      March 20, 2014 - 19:27

      People have to pay for products before they open them/ and start to eat/ or use them. That goes for all stores. It's not yours until you pay for it.

    • Margie
      March 21, 2014 - 06:39

      I think you're not supposed to eat stuff until you've paid for it..... lol so.. yep... intent to pay and paying are different.

    • Bonnie
      March 21, 2014 - 11:49

      I agree with Patricia. Unless you leave the store you are not fully shoplifting. Plus, why didn't the security officer ask the guy for ID to prove that he was not the guy in the video. If the guy in the video was told never to come back to the store then they must have gotten his name. By looking at the ID you would see that they were different people by the fact that they had different names. Seems common sense of a skill to have security officer do....check ID. Not that hard.

    • Wandy
      March 21, 2014 - 18:36

      People eat the product while they're walking around and when they're done just ditch the packaging on a shelf somewhere. Staff won't actually see you "leave the store" with anything...of course, it's still stealing. Common sense if that you PAY for things before you use or eat them.

    • Wandy
      March 21, 2014 - 18:39

      It's wrong to eat or use stuff before you pay for it. Think about it: a person could eat the product while they're walking around and when they're done just ditch the packaging on a shelf somewhere. Staff won't actually see you "leave the store" with anything. Common sense if that you PAY for things before you use or eat them.

  • fred
    March 20, 2014 - 14:04

    the company sobeys has doing there security is not a company I would want to be a part of a big corporate company.. they do not treat there employees right. They are trained in N.G. and do NOT get paid for training or there travels and well in ns it is not cheap to drive anywhere let alone go to training for work without pay..

  • Dale Layton
    March 20, 2014 - 14:03

    makes me not wanna shop there anymore, i think that's rediculous and I dont blame the guy for not wanting to go there anymore. how embarassing to him

    • Karen
      March 21, 2014 - 22:57

      Don't let this go, it is totally unacceptable. Sobeys should be ashamed of themselves and the least they should offer a public apology and an incentive for you to shop there again, (i.e free groceries). They hire untrained security who get paid minimum. PLEASE contact the security company who actually employs the person who did this to you. They hold responsibility as well and should offer compensation. I can only imagine how humiliating this must have been. Thanks for sharing your story, I will NEVER shop at that Sobeys again. I prefer Superstore anyway. Hats off to you Andrew for going back there. I could have told you they would look at you funny, and they will continue. You are a victim of GUILTY and NEVER proven innocent. These impressions are simple to create but very difficult to undo. "SOBEY'S STEP TO THE PLATE, A LAME OVER THE PHONE SORRY, WONT CUT IT!