Costco Reports Innocent Couple For Robbery, Then Blames Police For Stopping Them

Employees at a Hanover Costco store accused Bahri and Barbara Wallace of robbing the store in May.

Hanover, MD – A Maryland couple has filed a $4 million lawsuit against Costco for mistakenly identifying them as shoplifting suspects, but the corporation blamed the police who responded to their employees’ call for help.

"Law enforcement, not Costco, made the decision to execute the stop,” Costco said in a statement, according to WBAL.

The incident occurred in May, when Bahri and Barbara Wallace went to the Costco store in Anne Arundel County to purchase a new refrigerator.

“We had a love relationship with them,” Barbara told WJLA. “We've been members since 2007."

While they were browsing around the store, an employee noticed that the couple matched the description of individuals who have been stealing ink cartridges – involving a black couple with a blue purse, WBAL reported.

"I need police immediately at the Costco wholesale," the caller told police, according to WJLA. "I have a robbery in progress. They’ve been here before. They just robbed the Glen Burnie Costco an hour ago."

Oblivious to the fact that Costco employees had just accused them of robbery, the Wallaces left the store and were pulling out of the parking lot when they were stopped by an Anne Arundel County police officer, WBAL reported.

According to police records, the employees provided officers with a vehicle tag number that matched the couple’s vehicle.

"When I made a left on Arundel Mills Boulevard, his lights came on. I looked at Barbara, and I said, 'Did I run the light?' Her response was, 'Is he for us?' I said, 'He's stopping me,'" Bahri recounted to the news outlet.

"At that point, I was afraid,” Barbara added. “Let's just say, even if it wasn't this situation, when you get pulled over by the police and you are African-American, there is a lot to think about and you have to be careful how you conduct yourself. I was afraid for my husband.”

The officer then informed the couple that the “manager at Costco suspected you guys of shoplifting," Barbara told WJLA.

Meanwhile, another officer inside the Costco determined that the Wallaces had done nothing wrong. In fact, no theft had occurred at all, let alone one committed by the couple.

"A senior officer, he was the one who had the stripes, he get out and I hear him tell the other people, these are not the people," Bahri told WBAL.

The Wallaces said they believe the reason the employees called police on them was because they are black.

After the traffic stop, the couple returned to Costco to ask why they had been targeted.

"(The) manager came up,” Bahri explained. “I said, 'Did you call the police on us saying we were shoplifting?' His response was, 'You fit the bill.' I said, 'Fit the bill?' And he said, 'African-American male and female, and your wife is carrying a blue purse.’”

The manager told them that they had been having problems with people stealing ink cartridges, and that they “fit the bill,” Barbara confirmed to WBAL.

According to the news outlet, Costco denied having racially profiled the couple, and said they simply told police that the Wallaces matched the description of the ink cartridge thieves.

“Law enforcement, not Costco, made the decision to execute the stop,” Costco told WBAL in a statement. “Its staff communicated to a patrol officer that it had not found reason to detain the Wallaces."

An Anne Arundel County Police spokesperson blasted the corporation for blaming officers for responding to an alleged in-progress robbery its employees had reported.

“The statement Costco made is not only misleading, it is simply wrong,” the police spokesperson told WBAL.

“As can be heard in the radio transmissions at the time of the stop, Costco was still attempting to determine if a crime was actually committed. It was in no way relayed that a stop should not have been made,” the police spokesperson added.

The Wallaces said they feared that being pulled over by police could have threatened the security clearances they both hold as federal employees.

They ultimately filed a $4 million lawsuit against the company.

According to Costco, they attempted to settle the incident through mediation, but those efforts were not successful.

"There's more here than a simple mistake," the couple’s attorney, Chris Griffiths, told WBAL. "Employees can come to the job with certain biases.”

“Corporations, particularly of this size, are responsible for training individuals,” Griffiths continued. “If they are a responsible company, they train individuals to deal with those types of bias.”

“Whether or not Costco has such a program, we don't know, but it's something we intend to find out,” he added.

The local Costco declined to comment to Blue Lives Matter, and advised that corporate would be unable to respond until Monday.

Comments (23)
No. 1-16
LEO0301
LEO0301

4 million seems excessive....by a lot. Give them a free membership to Costco and pay for next years subscription to Netflix.

Hwninblu
Hwninblu

Makes them look greedy,

jiminsd
jiminsd

You shouldn't call the Cops if you didn't actually witness a theft? Good grief! Costco should try to settle this, yes $4M is crazy!

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

POCKET CHECK.

Next time be sure who you're calling the cops on. You'd think these people would learn by now.

RIDGERUNNER
RIDGERUNNER

How in the name of all that is sacred can anyone with a brain larger than a pea place the blame on the cops for doing their job? 4 million law suit? Seriously? The incident was ended quickly and efficiently by the police but Costco would rather blame the police than accept responsibility for what their employee did.

JBo
JBo

I think that Costco's defense of, 'You fit the bill', probably won't work and the Costco employee's statements that, "I have a robbery in progress. They’ve been here before. They just robbed the Glen Burnie Costco an hour ago", would actually warrant the police in making a stop.

IMHO.

LordSeamus
LordSeamus

Costco screwed up big time, then tried to blame it on the cops ?? And the couple could loose their federal security clearances ? $4 million compensation is ok by me. Also....."robbery in progress, they just hit another one an hour ago" . That would tell any dispatcher that this is a felony in progress, and not a case of shoplifting. I'd hit the Costco employees with filing false report charges.

RPG156
RPG156

Call takers need to make sure that callers are reporting what they are reporting and the difference between a robbery and a theft, at a minimum... And they to try and throw the police under the bus is unconscionable. But typical. Get the checkbook out, Costco...

FuzzBall44
FuzzBall44

‘African-American couple...wife carrying a blue purse’. Hell, that’s quite a description! That’s like saying “the thieves have 2 arms, two legs and a head”! That poor couple. However, $4 million? Seems a bit excessive to me.

Stanracer
Stanracer

Based on the info they had the police obviously did their job. Costco messed up, sure, but 4 million? Pretty excessive.

BlueLady
BlueLady

Reporting a robbery in progress suggests the parties may be armed and alerts the police to be prepared for possible resistance. So many false statements made by Costco could have lead to the couple being physically injured. 4 million dollar payment, may teach Costco and its employees that it is not a game. Also check out the employee that reported it for ulterior motives.

Det_John_Kimble
Det_John_Kimble

Next person stopped on the road in their car by Antifa should sue Soros and the DNC for $4 million dollars if this law suit flies.

What would have made them look much better is just telling the story to the media as they already did, skip the law suit, and set up the usual Go Fund Me page, and with the publicity and suckers that are out there they'd be collecting cash money, no lawyer needed. And people wouldn't see them as gold diggers.

artw44
artw44

I'm not sure how being pulled over by the police could put their security clearance in danger unless they are charged with a crime? And how any of this could be worth 4 million dollars is beyond me!

Rascal1966
Rascal1966

Costco employees are at fault here, not the police!!! The police were called and they did their job very well!! The couple was never handcuffed or arrested. They were detained for a very short period for the police to determine they had done nothing wrong. Since when does being detained result in you becoming a millionaire?? Costco has apparently tried to compensate these people but apparently they are greedy!! What happened is not worth no damn $4 million dollars!! Maybe a free lifetime membership and a $1,000 but not $4 million. What's even more pathetic is you can already tell they are ignorant liberals!! Because they have bought the false narrative about being pulled over while black!! And they are using it to their full advantage in this case. I hope the case gets thrown out and they end up getting nothing!!

Marxest
Marxest

Of course Costco is going to shift blame onto the police. The police were merely responding to a situation that Costco had caused. When your black and shopping in America, they always suspect the worst about you. Costco has deep pockets, I hope they get every penny of that $4 million dollar lawsuit. They deserve it.

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

Costco is on the hook for something here. Probably NOT $4 mil. Having an ignorant employee make a false report to police for which he should have been charged. One commentor is correct , they were suspected of being shoplifters, not robbers as the moronic employee reported. There is a difference, and it creates a whole different response by the police. The lawyer is "going for the jugular" on this one. I predict it will settle-out for much less than $4 mil. Let's turn the tables here what if the people were white? You know it would never get this far, and it would not be a $4 mil lawsuit. Despite the contentions, the law is not blind......especially when it comes to color of skin!