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Safeway Investigates Arrest at Hawaii Store

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway here has reportedly decided not to press charges after an incident at a store in Honolulu in which a couple was accused of shoplifting and had their 2-year-old child taken away by a social services agency for 18 hours.

Susan Houghton, a chain spokeswoman, told the Associated Press, "It is never our intent to separate a mother from her child. That was a very unfortunate consequence in this situation. We understand the outrage. We are concerned about how this was handled."

She said Safeway plans to review the police report and security footage from the store before deciding whether to press charges. The couple reportedly has a court date set for November on petty misdemeanor charges.

According to press reports, the woman said she and her husband were hungry while shopping at the Safeway store so they picked up two chicken salad sandwiches that together cost $5. She said they ate one while they shopped and saved the wrapper so they could pay for the sandwich at the checkstand, the reports said.

However, she said they forgot to pay for the sandwiches when they checked out with other groceries, and when they left the store, a security guard followed them out and arrested them despite their efforts to pay, the reports noted. They were detained while police were called, and several hours later a woman from Hawaii's Child Welfare Services took their daughter away.