Leesburg police said Monday they would seek charges in an alleged shoplifting case in which a Target security officer said he lost his job when he reported the incident.
The police also said that the suspect was “positively identified as a Fairfax Sheriff’s Office employee” and that they had notified the Fairfax Sheriff’s Office of the allegations May 30, three days after a second alleged incident at the Target store on Edwards Ferry Road in Leesburg.
Police said they had been waiting on Target to decide whether to pursue prosecution of the alleged shoplifter, which they said Target agreed to do Monday. But no charges were filed Monday, Leesburg Lt. Jeff Dube said, and they will not be filed until the officer investigating the case returns to work. He said he did not know when that would be.
The charges will not affect the firing of Dallas Northington, the former assets protection specialist for Target, who said he was terminated June 3 after reporting two shoplifting incidents, and providing surveillance video for both, to the Leesburg police. Northington’s claims were first reported in The Washington Post on Sunday.
A Target spokeswoman, Molly Snyder, said Monday that “out of respect for those involved, we aren’t going to get into the specifics of this incident. Any crime committed at Target is a crime against our guests, our team members and our shareholders. We take that very seriously. . . . As this is an active investigation, we don’t have additional details at this time.”
Snyder declined to say whether Target had delayed its decision on whether to prosecute or why it had decided to press charges now, six weeks after the case was reported to police.
Northington told The Post that a man apparently known to store supervisors allegedly swiped a tube of toothpaste without paying for it May 16. Surveillance video captured the incident, but store security staff decided to wait and see whether the man returned, Northington said.
The same man allegedly returned May 27, paid for some items and failed to pay for others before leaving the store, Northington said. Again, the incident was captured on video, and Northington said he showed the video to Leesburg police that night.
Northington was suspended shortly after that, and on June 3 he was fired. He said he was told that he had failed to follow proper Target procedure in reporting a crime to outside authorities. But he said he did what he had always done in working with Leesburg police.
Northington said he also provided the suspect’s name to police and told them the suspect was allegedly a sheriff’s deputy, who has subsequently retired.
A statement issued Monday afternoon by Dube said the police were “awaiting contact from Target if it was their desire to prosecute the alleged theft. Late this morning we were notified by Target and they indicated that they wanted to move forward with criminal charges associated with the theft in this incident.”
Dube noted that the decision to fire Northington was Target’s, not that of the police.
Snyder, Target’s spokeswoman, said last week that “we have conducted a full investigation and don’t believe there is any merit to this individual’s claims.”
Declan Leonard, Northington’s attorney, said that even though his client was fired by Target, Northington spent time Monday waiting to testify on Target’s behalf in a different shoplifting case in Loudoun General District Court. “I don’t think I have ever encountered a situation like this,” Leonard said, “where a long-term loyal employee such as Dallas is kicked to the curb so unceremoniously.’’