RINCON - An employee of the Lowe’s store in Rincon terminated for violating company policy regarding alleged shoplifters was offered her job back Monday and she said she will return.
Donna Hansbrough, who has worked at the Rincon Lowe’s for 13 years, was slightly injured when she tried to stop three people attempting to take more than $2,000 of merchandise from the store during a June 25 incident.
Shortly afterward, Hansbrough, 68, was terminated by Lowe’s for violating store policy that forbids employees from confronting persons attempting to shoplift.
But on Monday, Larry Costello, a senior manager in corporate communications for Lowe’s, issued the following statement: “After senior management became aware of the incident and spoke to Donna Hansbrough today, we are reinstating her job and we are pleased that she has accepted the offer to return to Lowe’s.
“First and foremost, there’s nothing more important than the safety of our customers and associates. Products can be replaced; people cannot. We continue to work closely with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who are responsible for this theft and violent attack.”
Rincon police said they are still looking for one of the three subjects from the June 25 incident at the store on Hwy. 21 in Rincon.
The Rincon Police Department is still searching for the female suspect involved in the theft and assault. Takyah Berry is still at large and the Rincon police is asking for the public’s assistance to bring her in.
According to the Rincon Police Department, Berry committed a similar theft that same day at a Chatham County Walmart. The public is asked to not approach her and to call 911 if she is seen.
Police said Berry and two men went into Lowe’s on June 25, loaded multiple items into shopping carts and left the store without paying for the $2,101 of merchandise. Hansbrough attempted to stop one of the subjects by grabbing the shopping cart. After Hansbrough grabbed the cart, Berry struck Hansbrough in the face three times, leaving Hansbrough with a swollen and blackened right eye.
“They say that if you see somebody stealing something out the door, not to pursue, not to go out. I lost it,” Hansbrough said. “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 (it).”
Hansbrough admits her mistake was just being overwhelmed by instinct.
“I just got tired of seeing things get out the door. I just … I lost it,” she said. “I basically lost all the training. Everything they tell you to do, I just … I just lost it.
“I didn’t expect to get terminated,” she said. “Maybe a reprimand or a suspension.”
Hansbrough said she started at Lowe’s as a cashier, but eventually became a “live-nursery specialist” when they found out she knew a lot about plants.
“My father worked at a nursery, and I just kind of tagged along when I was little,” Hansbrough said.
She held that position for a few years until it was eliminated, “and I was just a customer service associate with live plants,” she said.