Employees of a Texas department store were fired after being assaulted while trying to stop a serial shoplifter from getting away.
Jane Marzell, 69, was caught using a large pair of pliers to cut security tags off of handbags on November 25 at the Ross department store in Katy, Texas, just outside of Houston. When employees tried to intervene, that’s when things took a turn for the worse.
Veronica Gill, Angelica Ortiz, and two other employees stepped in to stop the shoplifter. Gill was hit in the face and the shoplifter tried to run out the door. The other employees blocked the entrance to stop her from getting out.
Marzell hit Ortiz’s hands with the pliers she had and Ortiz suffered a broken thumb during the incident.
“For her being so violent to the workers, they really kept their composure,” an eyewitness told KTRK.
Marzell, a serial shoplifter with four prior convictions, managed to escape, but was arrested on December 1. She was charged with aggravated robbery.
The employees were sent home for several days of paid leave, only to find out on December 2 that they had been fired. It is against store policy to try to stop shoplifters.
“Safety is a top priority in our stores,” a corporate spokesperson for Ross said in a brief statement to KTRK. “However, we do not comment on associate relations issues.”
Gill said that she regrets intervening in the first place and that she is worried about her fired coworkers.
“I’m worried about my manager, the security guy,” she told KTRK, in tears. “They were full-time and this was their full-time job, their only job and they lost it right before Christmas. My manager has children.”
Gill, who worked at Ross part-time while also working another full-time job, said that she was not aware of the policy against stopping shoplifters, which Ortiz said was only put in place two weeks ago.
"If there is, by any blessing, a possibility to help the manager and the security (Guard) and the other person who was laid off to find some employment, I would be grateful for that," added Gill.