Man Arrested for Helping Himself to Samples at Supermarket

I always hear about people making a meal of Costco and grocery store samples about three times a week. Many of them live within walking distance of these stores and do this purposely to save money on food. It doesn’t seem to be the healthiest way to eat but I can see why people would turn to this when their financial situations aren’t in the best of shape.

There isn’t anything unethical or socially unacceptable in making a meal of free samples, especially in the case of stores like Costco, where you dish out money to secure an annual membership. But what about when someone abuses the rules of free samples? We don’t really know the rules, but apparently you can get arrested for taking too much!

For example, 68-year-old Erwin Lingitz, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was arrested after helping himself to too many samples after being warned by Cub Foods’ store mangers to stop filling produce bags with cookies from the “kids” cookie club tray. Two days after the incident, Lingitz was charged with disorderly conduct, interfering with the officers and shoplifting.

A spokeswoman for the store says Lingitz violated “societal norms” regarding how much he took from the trays.

“Plaintiff had approximately 14-16 packets of soy sauce along with one plastic produce bag containing 0.61 pounds of summer sausage and another plastic produce bag containing 0.85 pounds of beef stick in his pockets,” she wrote. “Near the end of aisle 10 on the day in question, Cub Foods had two un-hosted sample platters, one containing beef sticks and one containing summer sausage.”

Lingitz maintains that when he went into the Cub supermarket on Meadowlands Drive, employees told him he could take some food to his wife, who was waiting outside in the couple’s car.

He is now suing Supervalu, Ramsey County, its sheriff’s office, three deputies and a private security company over the April 2010 incident. The retiree claims that his civil rights were violated and he was roughed up by a security guard and sheriff’s deputies after being confronted for helping himself to some lunch meat.

As he left, a security guard confronted him; Lingitz protested and the situation escalated. He eventually was arrested and jailed. His charges have since been dismissed.