Boys will be boys, right? Everyone has heard that expression at least once in their life. Mostly, it’s an excuse for a young man to do something stupid and get away with it. Petty things like break a window, or fight with a brother. Where do you draw the line? Getting into an accident, underage drinking, stealing? If you own a liquor store, or even a store that sells liquor, you may need to consider protecting your inventory with a bottle lock.
A few years back I was reading a news article from my hometown. A couple of teenagers shoplifting from a local grocery store and fled when the owner caught them. They were in such a rush to get away, they ran a red light a few blocks up the road and caused a major accident. Luckily, no one was killed, but the driver of the other vehicle sustained injuries that will have to be dealt with for years, if not the rest of his life. A few weeks later, I read a follow up piece and it centered on the liquor bottle security at this family owned grocery store.
Turns out that the teens were shoplifting alcohol on that day. Not only were they stealing the booze, but drinking it in the store as well. At the time of the crash, the driver was over the legal limit. The driver of the other car was now suing the grocer, claiming he should have done more to prevent kids from stealing and drinking hard liquor. This was amazing to me. The lawsuit, in my opinion, was just as frivolous as the case against McDonald’s hot coffee. How can a business that retails liquor be held liable if someone commits a crime in their store, then hurts someone else as a result of that original crime?
As the weeks went on in my small town, I would see updates from the case and eventually the outcome came about 3 years after the accident. A judge had decided that the grocer was liable, to some degree, for the accident. In his ruling, the judge compared the grocer to a bar serving alcohol to patrons. The court also found that the grocer had experimented with bottle locks in the past, but failed to implement them. The grocer argued that the bottle locks were tested to prevent theft, but he never had much of a theft problem, so he never implemented the security measure.
I found this to be an interesting argument and I wondered if there had been any other cases like this. While most retailers view liquor bottle security as a way to combat shoplifting, I had never thought of how they can be used to protect yourself from other forms of liability. Would this have made a difference in the case? According to the court’s ruling, had there been some form of security preventing easy access to the alcohol, the court may have dismissed the case. While I still don’t think this is a fair ruling, it should serve as a reminder to all retailers how important physical security measures can be.
For more information, contact us: Bottle Locks, or call 1.770.426.0547