OK, we've all seen the free sample lady at places like Wal-Mart and other grocery stores. The question is can you take too many, even if they are free? Well, in Minnesota, the answer is a big fat YES! Erwin Lingitz, 68, of Gem Lake, was shopping at Cub Foods and was arrested for taking too much from the lunch meat sample tray. Apparently, when Lingitz was confronted by store security, he had 0.61 pounds worth of summer sausage, 0.85 pounds of beef stick, both in plastic produce bags in his pockets and 10-20 cookies from the 'kids' club cookie tray.

Long story short, they asked him to empty his pockets, he refused so, the cops were called. Lingitz refused to cooperate with the deputy after one handcuff was secured. So, he was wrestled to the floor by the deputy and cuffed while continuing to fight. Lingitz goes to court on charges of disorderly conduct, interfering with officers and shoplifting. One year later, the charges were dismissed. All is forgiven, right? Wrong!

Lingitz is now suing, of course, and that suit is pending. He claims the food samples were free so, what's the problem? They say he abused the free sample policy and violated "Societal Norms" with regard to how much he took. What the heck are "Societal Norms"?

Did the guy go way beyond what is reasonable? Sure. Is he kind of a tool for taking 10-20 cookies, which were clearly marked for kids only? You bet. Is he just a free-loader taking advantage of the system? Absolutely. But did he commit a crime? I'm not so sure.

We see this all the time at live remotes with things like free hot dogs and pizza. Most people just take one or two, but there are some who load up as much as they can carry. Do we say anything to them? No...I mean after all, they are free and who are we to act like the hot dog police? Some people just do that, but to put them in the criminal category is a bit of a stretch and maybe just flat out unfair and wrong.

My feeling is, if you put out free samples in the store, don't leave them unhosted and clearly post how many they can take. If you just put them out with no supervision and no indication of limits, you are just inviting trouble and someone WILL take advantage...you can bank on it. Last time I checked, petty greed is not illegal unless you actually break the law in the course of your tacky hoarding of the summer sausage. What do you think?


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