Roxana Shirazi was accused of theft by police at while trying to return presents for a 93yr old friend (Picture: Roxana Shirazi / SWNS)
A woman was left ‘horrified’ after she was manhandled by police and accused of shoplifting while trying to return presents for her 93-year-old friend.
Roxana Shirazi says the ‘mistake’ led to her being confronted by multiple officers in the middle of a busy street, who refused to apologise once her innocence was proven.
The journalist and author from Bristol visited the Marks & Spencer store in Cribbs Causeway on Saturday (8 Jan) at 9:15am.
She was helping her friend Roy, 93, to return unwanted Christmas presents from his family and hoped to obtain either a voucher or exchange for a cardigan and jacket.
She was grabbed by police while attempting to leave an M&S store in Bristol (Picture: Getty Images)
‘He just wanted to exchange the gifts – which had tags on – but did not have a receipt, as he was embarrassed and didn’t want his family to know,’ she said.
‘So I walked in with a bag filled with his things, went to the cashier and explained the situation.
‘She scanned them and told me the items had never been purchased as there had “never been a purchase history”.
‘It was very odd, they had definitely paid for the items so I said they had certainly been purchased, but that was all she would say.’
Roxana was left confused by the interaction and decided to return the items to Roy, but as she made her way out of the store she was ‘grabbed’ by a security guard who accused her of stealing them.
Roxana said: ‘I told him to look at the CCTV which showed me walking into the store with the bag of items.
‘He said to me I had stolen them before and brought them back into the store to get money for them.
The police made no attempt to apologise for the incident (Picture: Roxana Shirazi / SWNS)
‘I was shocked and said they aren’t mine, they are a 93-year-old man’s. I tried to explain the situation but he said it was theft and was going to call the police.’
As Roxana tried to leave the store, she recalled being ‘grabbed’ again by two policemen in the middle of a busy street.
She added: ‘It was so embarrassing.
‘I even got them to talk to Roy on the phone and he said honestly they were given to me by my kids – but they didn’t believe him.
‘He was shaking, and so upset because of his age – he was literally coughing up blood that morning and needed to go to the doctor’s and was worried and wanted to come to help as the Police wanted to detain me.
‘I was stood there for ages with people watching – it was so horrible and mortifying.
‘The police took the stuff off me and wouldn’t give it back – they took my address and name.
Roxana says she has still been unable to retrieve the items taken from her at the store (Picture: Roxana Shirazi / SWNS)
‘They were calling me a thief and said they were going to come and investigate me – it was so upsetting.
‘I tweeted M&S about the incident later on that day and they said they would look into it – no apology at all.’
The next day, Roxana received a call from M&S admitting they had ‘made a mistake’ and that no shoplifting had taken place.
She was shocked that they would not apologise to her, given the trauma of the whole event- which left both Roy & Roxana in ‘shock and distress.’
The affair has left Roxana wondering if others have been subject to the same treatment when returning gifts, and says she believes exposes a flaw in the store’s return policy.
She added: ‘I felt like a criminal – it was really horrible and I don’t know why they made that decision.
‘There is no evidence and it was so extreme.
‘Apparently they found out that sometimes purchase history doesn’t come up on some items – but the staff at M&S should know that and not make such serious allegations.
‘Roy hasn’t been well – he felt embarrassed to say to his kids he wanted to exchange some items.
‘Sometimes you don’t want to do that to people who have given you a gift.
‘He’s very fragile and very shaken and it has really affected him – he was scared it would be his fault – and it has become such a big thing, it’s horrible.’
Roxana has still not been able to pick up Roy’s items, and has received ‘nothing’ in the form of an apology from the store or the police.
‘You can’t treat people like this,’ she said.
‘It’s a horrible thing to happen, and I don’t know how M&S and the security make their decisions.’
A spokesperson from M&S said: ‘We are investigating and have contacted Roxana directly to apologise for her experience.’
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Two police officers ‘grabbed’ her as she attempted to leave the store.