70-year-old veteran fired from job after trying to stop shoplifters

70-year-old Jim Tinney says he was just trying to do the right thing

Photo Courtesy: CNN

HOUSTON, TX. (CNN/KTRK) – A 70-year-old veteran, who worked at a Home Depot in Texas, is out of job after trying to stop thieves from leaving the store.

Jim Tinney says that trying to do the right thing has guided him pretty well in life. “In the Army, they train you to do things like that,” Tinney said.

A few weeks back, Tinney saw three men carrying tool sets worth thousands of dollars to the checkout line, but they seemed nervous.

“One of them hollered, ‘Let’s go.’ And they all grabbed their kits and started heading out,” Tinney said.

Tinney says, without thinking, he tossed the paint roller extension he was holding to stop one of the men. “I just automatically went like this, and threw the stick at their feet,” he said. The men ended up getting away. Tinney thought it was over, until two weeks later, when he was fired.

He admits his training at the store said not to confront shoplifters, but he says it was just a reflex. A spokesman for the company said in a statement:

“We have a strict policy that only our trained security personnel can pursue and engage shoplifters. We’ve had deaths and serious injury over the years, and no amount of merchandise is more important than the safety of our associates and customers.”

Jim Tinney said, “I think they could have written me up, reprimanded me. But terminate me? That’s pretty strong.” Tinney says he’s having trouble getting a new job, “I’m 70 years old. I need to work. I needed that job. I enjoyed working with customers, helping figuring out what they wanted to do. It’s fun.”

A tough lesson for a man who’s been around the world serving his country: serving the company he worked for might mean holding off on what seems like a good deed.

Home Depot also said in its statement that, within a 24-hour period, shoplifters pulled guns at two different Home Depots on opposite sides of the country.