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Confirmed: Customers left IOUs at unmanned market

To those customers who took groceries from the ghost Safeway at the height of Wednesday’s blizzard: The store has your IOUs and they’ll be in touch, real soon.

Four of the 10 customers who wandered into an unstaffed supermarket took groceries and all of them left either cash or an IOU on the cashier’s counter, Safeway spokesman Craig M. Muckle said Thursday after store officials reviewed video from a security camera.

When the assistant manager of Safeway’s Tenleytown supermarket in Northwest realized he was the only one who had shown up to work on the morning of the wildest winter storm in memory, he followed company policy and went home, Muckle said.

The employee will not face any disciplinary action for “an honest mistake. He thought he’d secured the door.”

“For safety reasons, we don’t want just one employee in the store and he knew that,” Muckle said.

Safeway officials initially cast doubt on eyewitness reports that customers had helped themselves to goods during the three hours when the store was unlocked and unmanned, but a review of the tape showed that four people each took a handful of products and made an effort to pay for them.

“Those who took some stuff obviously had their heart in the right place,” said Muckle, who said those who left the IOUs included phone numbers or other contact information and will soon hear from store management about arranging for payment.

The employee, who could not be located by Safeway officials Wednesday, was found to have been at home, asleep.

Muckle said the store reopened Thursday and, like all area supermarkets, would need a few days to “get back up to speed” and restock depleted shelves.

By Marc Fisher  | February 11, 2010; 5:12 PM ET
Categories:  More on the story, The Blowback  
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