Giant announces ban on large bags at DC stores in controversial anti-theft effort

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Grocer Giant has announced it’s banning large bags from all its stores in Washington, D.C. in an effort to prevent theft.

The grocery chain says shoplifting costs the company millions of dollars a year. Many customers who spoke to News4 on Memorial Day were not happy, including a mother who was turned away while carrying her baby bag.

“They looked at me and told me I could not bring my baby bag. Think about it, it’s a baby bag. I have a child. Why am I not allowed to bring a baby bag in there? Because of the people that steal,” customer Myeshia Mitchell said.

When you walk into the Giant store in Shaw, one of the first things you’ll see is a sign that says bags larger than 14 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches are prohibited.

“You’re being treated inhuman. You shouldn’t treat people like that,” Sharon Wingate said.

Giant says the new bag policy just went into effect at all stores in the District due to unprecedented levels of theft. Sometimes, organized groups steal items in bulk.

“I do support anti-theft measures. I also, on the other hand, I kind of understand, with how expensive things are, why it’s happening,” Le’chaun Linthicum said.

Some customers tell News4 that they were still able to use large bags with no issue.

“I really didn’t have anybody mention it to me at all. And I actually did walk past a couple of security people, so they might’ve mentioned it but they didn’t,” another customer, Brett Abrams, said.

Giant told News4 that the policy is in effect at select stores and began on Thursday.

Giant said the policy is also in effect at other stores in the region, but didn’t specify which ones. The full statement reads:

Giant Food initiated a new policy at select stores that are experiencing high shrink to mitigate the unprecedented levels of product theft that have become unsustainable for our business. Starting May 23rd, customers cannot bring suitcases, duffel bags, or bags larger than 14” x 14” x 6” while shopping in these stores.

The retail theft we are experiencing across our market area is a problem that affects everyone. It limits product availability, creates a less convenient shopping experience, and, most critically, puts our associates and customers in harm’s way.

We need to be able to run our stores safely and profitably, and we take these responsibilities seriously. The tactics we deploy are only one of the solutions to our problem.

Still, we continue to invest in improving safety for our associates and customers and reducing theft.  At Giant Food, the well-being of our community, customers, and associates is paramount. We sincerely appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work together to create a more secure shopping environment for everyone.

Last year, the National Retail Federation said retailers have seen an 80% increase in violence associated with retail crime since the pandemic.

In November 2022, an alleged shoplifter shot a security guard at the Giant in Oxon Hill. The guard fired back, and both people died.

Giant says other anti-theft measures include hiring more guards, reducing store hours and locking down some items.

But as for the ban on large bags, one customer said it won’t stop him. 

“They can go to hell. If I got one, imma take it in,” he said.

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