FAIRVIEW, Texas (CBS11) – Videos obtained by CBS11 show hundreds of customers at a Collin County department store may have unknowingly been subjected to illegal searches.
Some of those customers are outraged and demanding answers from a Dillard’s department store as well as Fairview Police and the Collin County Sheriff’s Department.
Ed Thayer started recording video inside the Dillard’s department store in Fairview on Monday.
That’s after the former law enforcement officer saw armed, off duty Fairview Police officers and Collin County Sheriff’s deputies, hired by the store, going through shopping bags of customers before they were allowed to leave.
“There was a line of people probably 30 deep waiting to get out of the store,” he says. “No one could get past the officers unless they had the receipt in their hands and open their bags.”
Thayer questioned one of the deputies outside the store who told him the store manager ordered the bag searches.
Fairview Police say the store misled them and should never had put its officers in that role.
“As law enforcement we don’t have the authority to check someone’s things without probable cause,” says Ofc. Whitney Belcher, Fairview Police Department.
In a letter to a customer, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner says the “…enforcement of Dillard’s house rules was unacceptable…” and terminated it’s off duty work agreement with the store.
Thayer complained to a Dillard’s manager who he says brushed him off.
“My initial feeling in my history law-enforcement was that was an abuse and I didn’t feel that sworn officers should be in that role,” says Thayer. “I would say it was intimidating.”
Dillard’s hasn’t responded to our multiple requests for an interview or statement.
Receipt-checking at the door isn’t uncommon at wholesale clubs but customers consent to that as part of their membership agreements and the search is only done by store employees.
Thayer says after he complained and started recording video, the off duty officers stopped searching bags.
“I’m not going to give up my civil liberties for Dillard’s bottom line,” says Thayer.
Thayer filed a complaint against a deputy who followed him out of the store after he refused a search.
That complaint is being addressed according to the sheriff’s office.