HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nicole Leszczynski is nearly eight months pregnant and in distress.
"I'm infuriated. I cannot believe that this has been taken so far," she said.
As Hawaii News Now first reported, Wednesday night, October 26, Nicole and her husband, Marcin, and their three-year-old daughter, Zophia, were shopping in the Safeway store on Beretania Street.
"We got into the store. I was feeling a little lightheaded and we decided to eat some sandwiches. We put the wrappers in the cart. There wasn't any effort made to conceal anything," she said.
The couple checked out, paid $50 for their groceries, but not the $5 for the two chicken salad sandwiches.
"We walked out of the store and were confronted by two men asking where the receipt was for the sandwiches," she said. "We completely forgot that we hadn't paid for the sandwiches. As soon as they confronted us, I immediately offered to pay. We had cash. The manager said that it was against store policy to pay for merchandise after it had been removed from the store."
Nicole said police were called. She and her husband were arrested and booked at the main station on suspicion of theft in the fourth degree.
"They tried to work with us, and tried to work it out so one of us would be taken at a time. Unfortunately, we both had to go in. CPS was called and they took my daughter," she said.
Child Welfare Services kept Zophia overnight. Nicole has never spent a day away from her daughter.
"I wonder if she's brushed her teeth. Is she asking about us? It's very upsetting," she said.
Shortly after our interview, Zophia was returned to her parents.
Child Welfare Services said when both parents are arrested, as in this case, the department steps in to care for the child. By law, it has three working days to assess a child's home and gather information on the parents. CPS said it works as fast as it can.
As for Safeway, a spokesman told Hawaii News Now the company will not comment because it's investigating the case.
Nicole blames the store manager for being inflexible and for insisting they be arrested.
"I cannot believe that this has been taken so far, that they would do so much damage to a family when there was not malicious intent. And there was no effort to conceal or steal from them," she said.
The Leszczynski's have a court date. They said they'll fight the shoplifting charge. They are consulting a lawyer.
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