Teen with special needs accused of theft that never occurred

Teen accused of theft he didn't commit - in fact, no one did

(WWBT) - A Virginia mother is angry over a bizarre incident inside a grocery store involving her special needs son.

Stacey Roots was shopping with her then-19-year-old son when a store vendor accused them of stealing, causing a huge scene with customers watching. But, as if turns out, neither of them stole a thing.

Roots says she and her son left the grocery store feeling humiliated and degraded. She questions if her son was targeted because he had on headphones and a hoodie.

“He looked at me and said 'Mom, I didn’t do anything.’ I said, ‘I know,’" Roots said.

It all started when she was at self-check out with her Kameron, who is living with special needs.

"He’s always texting, and that’s what he was doing. He was texting,” Roots said.

That’s when a woman with a badge walked up to them with a phone in hand, calling the number of an employee’s phone she thought was stolen.

"She’s by his side, leaning over his shoulder trying to see if the phone is going off, and it’s not,” Roots said.

That’s when the woman spoke up.

“She said, ‘did you or your son take a cell phone from the bakery?’ I said, ‘excuse me?’” Roots said. “I said, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, we have our own cell phones.’”

At that moment, Roots received a call on her phone, which led to further accusation.

“She says ‘likely story.’ She says, ‘funny I push a button and the phone just lit up in your pocket, thief,'" Roots said. “She said, ‘Why don’t you get a job and buy your own cell phone rather than stealing one?'"

Khameron Roots, left, and his mother, Stacey.
Khameron Roots, left, and his mother, Stacey. (Source: NBC12)

The woman left and Roots ran to store management to file a complaint. Roots said store associates were extremely helpful, advising her the woman at the center of this is not a Kroger employee but a vendor the store does business with.

“We regret that this incident took place in a Kroger store and that it made a valued customer feel uncomfortable. Upon investigation we learned that a vendor was responsible for this situation. Ultimately, it appears that this was a misunderstanding but our main concern is that a customer was made to feel unwelcome. Our associates work hard to create a positive experience for all of our customers. We extend our sincere apologies to this customer and we’d like to do our part to make it right,” Allison McGee with Kroger Mid-Atlantic said in a statement.

Roots said she had a discussion with her son about the incident.

“Some people are just ignorant,” Roots said. “There are going to be things you will have to experience things in life that’s not fair.”

Khameron said he was scared by the incident and thought he was in real trouble for something he hadn’t done.

“I thought she was going to call 911," he said. “I thought I was going to go to jail or something. We’ve never done nothing like that. We wouldn’t. Why would we?"

As for the phone at the center of the allegation, it was never stolen - not by Roots or anyone else. It was found inside a drawer.

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