Georgia Woman Punched In Face While Trying To Stop Shoplifters

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A Georgia woman, working at a major retail company, spotted a few brazen shoplifters trying to leave the store with stolen merchandise. Fed up, she tried to stop them. Unfortunately, she was repeatedly punched in the face, but sadly, that wasn’t the only “thank you” she received for her efforts.

Donna Hansbrough
Donna Hansbrough (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Sixty-eight-year-old Donna Hansbrough was working in the garden section of a Lowe’s store in Rincon, Georgia — where she had been employed for 13 years — when she spotted three brazen shoplifters trying to exit the store. According to the Rincon Police Department (RPD), the three suspects went inside the Lowe’s store, loaded multiple items into shopping carts, and tried to exit without paying for the merchandise when they were spotted by Donna.

Fed up with thieves, Donna admits that she “lost it.” Frustrated, she attempted to stop one of the suspects by grabbing her shopping cart in an attempt to thwart the shoplifting. According to the RPD, that cart belonged to Takyah Berry, who wasn’t about to let Donna stop her and her accomplices from making off with over $2,000 worth of merchandise. “After Donna grabbed the cart, Berry struck Donna in the face three times causing Donna’s right eye to swell and blacken,” the RPD said.

Takyah Berry (Photo Credit: Rincon Police Department)

Unfortunately, Donna’s efforts were in vain as the three suspects exited the home improvement store with the stolen items, and soon, Donna would find out that being repeatedly punched in the face wasn’t the only “thank you” she would receive for trying to stop the shoplifters. Even though she did not, at any time, make contact with any person, according to law enforcement, Donna was still fired from Lowe’s for violating the store’s policy against intervening with shoplifters.

“They say that if you see somebody stealing something out the door, not to pursue, not to go out,” Donna admitted, but she couldn’t help herself, she told the Effingham Herald. “I lost it. I grabbed the cart. I don’t actually remember going out but I did. And, I grabbed the cart that had the stolen items in,” she recalled. “I just got tired of seeing things get out the door. I just … I lost it,” Donna continued. “I basically lost all the training. Everything they tell you to do, I just … I just lost it.”

Donna Hansbrough
Donna Hansbrough (Photo Credit: Rincon Police Department)

Although Donna admits that she made a mistake and failed to follow policy, she never expected that she’d be fired for the decision, which was caused by being overwhelmed with instinct. “I didn’t expect to get terminated. Maybe a reprimand or a suspension,” she said. Unfortunately, Lowe’s felt differently, likely due to the fact that they could be held liable for any injuries their staff may receive during such a confrontation, which is typically why retailers have policies against employees intervening on the store’s behalf.

Even so, several customers at the Rincon Lowe’s were disappointed they’d no longer see Donna Hansbrough, who they had lovingly nicknamed “the plant lady,” according to WJCL News. In fact, people were so upset by what happened that a GoFundMe campaign was launched to “directly help Ms. Donna with any bills while she attempts to find new employment after being fired by Lowe’s for something she clearly had no control over.” It raised over $25,000 in its first three days.

Joseph Berry and Jarmar Lawton were identified as the two other suspects. (Photo Credit: Rincon Police Department)

As for the trio of shoplifters, the Rincon Police Department identified Takyah Berry’s accomplices as Jarmar Lawton and Joseph Berry, according to The Blaze. Joseph Berry and Takyah Berry are uncle and niece, according to the RPD. Authorities said the trio stole merchandise worth $2,101. At the time Donna Hansbrough’s termination was reported, Lawton had been arrested, but authorities were still searching for the uncle and niece suspects.

As for Donna, she said the incident was many firsts for her: the first time she’s ever been hit, her first black eye, and the first time she’s been fired from a job. Not expecting to get her old job back, she said she was looking for new employment. “I’m going to look for a new job. I can’t sit at home. I’m not that type of person,” she said.

Indeed, Donna Hansbrough proved she’s not the type to just sit back and watch things happen around her, but sadly, such bravery isn’t always rewarded. Instead, we are reminded that criminals are often afforded more grace and leniency than those who try to stop them. While it’s understandable that an employer doesn’t want their staff to be harmed on the job, potentially costing the company even more money than the theft, there is a downside to such policies. Namely, it emboldens criminals.

Not only is it a violation to physically stop shoplifters, but as this incident proves, trying to grab the stolen merchandise isn’t allowed either. So, what’s to discourage a criminal from shoplifting? As we see here, the employee was punished before all of the culprits could even be caught. I find that to be a rather sad state of affairs. Instead of being tough on crime, retailers have seemingly become complicit and employees are asked to be the same. So, who pays the price? Those of us who stop at the register on our way out, that’s who.