Veteran fired after trying to stop shoplifters

Posted at 4:51 AM, Jul 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-16 04:51:16-04

PEARLAND, TX (KTRK/CNN) – A 70-year-old veteran who worked at a Home Depot in Texas lost his job after trying to stop thieves from leaving the store.

While at his Home Depot job in June, veteran Jim Tinney saw three men carrying tool sets worth thousands of dollars to the checkout line. He noticed the men seemed nervous.

"One of them hollered, ‘Let’s go.’ And they all grabbed their kits and started heading out,” Tinney said.

Tinney says without thinking he tossed the paint roller extension he was holding to try and stop one of the men.

"In the Army, they train you to do things like that,” Tinney said. "I just automatically… threw the stick at their feet."

The men ended up getting away, and Tinney thought the incident was over until two weeks later when he was fired. The veteran was surprised by the decision but admits his training at the store said not to confront shoplifters.

A spokesman for the company said in a statement the policy is in place for everyone’s safety.

"We have a strict policy that only our trained security personnel can pursue and engage shoplifters. We've had deaths and serious injury over the years, and no amount of merchandise is more important than the safety of our associates and customers,” the statement read.

Tinney says he understands he violated policy, but he says he was acting on reflex and the punishment is too harsh.

"I think they could have written me up and reprimanded me. But terminate me? That's pretty strong,” he said.

The veteran says he’s having trouble getting a new job.

"I'm 70 years old. I need to work, and I needed that job. I enjoyed working with the customers helping figure out what they want to do. It's fun,” Tinney said.

Home Depot said in their statement that associates have previously been bitten, stabbed, and held at gunpoint when confronting shoplifters.

“It's a very serious safety risk to everyone, even when it doesn't appear to be,” the statement read.

Copyright 2017 KTRK via CNN. All rights reserved.