Nicole Leszcynski Jailed, 3-Year-Old Daughter Sent to Child Protective Services over $5 Sandwich

This is one of those horror stories that could happen to any of us, including the Safeway store manager who should have shown some measure of grace, but instead was instrumental in letting a 3-year-old girl, Sophia Leszcynski, be taken from her parents and sent to Child Protective Services in Honolulu.

Nicole Leszczynski and her husband March walked to a local Safeway. Mrs. Leszczynski is 30 weeks pregnant. She said she felt “faint, dizzy” once in the store decided to buy sandwiches and eat while they shopped.

In the checkout line, the family paid for groceries totaling $50.00, but forgot one $5.00 sandwich. Security stopped them as they exited the store and asked for the receipt. That’s when the unpaid sandwich was discovered. The Lesczynski’s tried to pay for the sandwich, but the store manager would have none of it. He told them they would be arrested and their daughter Zophia taken to Child Protective Services. The parents were jailed on charges of 4th degree theft. Zophia was returned after 18 hours. What a nightmare.

There is apparently nothing pointing to either Nicole or March stealing, or making a habit of keeping their coffers comfy with an extra $5.00. What was this manager thinking?

Recently I was in a Target Store. I went through the checkout and stopped to deposit my cart by the door when I realized there was a chocolate cake, unbagged, still in the cart. When I saw it, I knew I hadn’t paid for it. I walked the cake back to the cash register, got in line again, and paid for it. If my cart had been full of grocery bags, I could have missed it until I got to my car.

I’m behind retailers 100% when it comes to prosecuting theft, but  I’ve been a retailer, and I wouldn’t think of having a child sent to Child Protective Services for a $5.00 sandwich, especially when the family wanted to make the reimbursement. Safeway thinks it inappropriate to comment. See a video interview here.

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook

  • The manager should be fired for lack of common sense. I know, it sounds like a reach but in the real world common sense needs to be the rule and not the exception. The manager evidently is one who allowed a bit of authority go to his head which is IMO up his a**.
    The child will forever have this etched in her memory. As a psychologist who has worked around and indirectly for DSS, CPS DCFS, etc I can attest to that.

  • Hay Maggie,
    In fairness to the Manager and Safeway, I wonder what the back-story is?

    A third offense? The perp giving the manager or the security people a lot of rude lip when confronted? Is this a Westboroe Babtist ruse: Create a situation where even a truthful defense amounts to an apparent defamation and expensive law suit settlement – the Island version of the fraudulent slip ‘n fall?

    I’m mindful of the cretin who sued McDonalds over her stupidly spilling a hot coffee over herself as she drove.

    Granted, it looks bad – I rather think Safeway should have handled the situation differently. What is not clear is who exactly is the predator.


    • Ran, I saw none of that in the original story. Maybe this is something breaking? I’m looking but not finding anything. I’ll just say this, the only way this family would have much room for a lawsuit is having the child removed from them, and I don’t think they could have anticipated that.

      Have you found something else?

      • I have nothing new.

        The thing is, media zombies tend to be “social” activists, not objective reporters. Between them and corporate attorneys wishing zero exposure for liability, it is almost impossible to know from the company side what occurred.

        All we have is that “big, mean Profiteer goes after poor helpless mom… and kid suffers.” Might be real. Might be a lot more.

    • John889

      QUOTE “I wonder what the back-story is?
      I’m mindful of the cretin who sued McDonalds over her stupidly spilling a hot coffee over herself as she drove.”

      Wow, everyone refers to that story, but it looks as if they never checked that “back-story” on it.
      First she wasn’t driving, and if anyone looked at the lawsuit they would have found that that McDonald’s had already been cited TWICE for having their coffee too hot.

      CUT & PASTE
      Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent. She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. Two years of medical treatment followed.

      Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000 to cover her actual and anticipated expenses. Her past medical expenses were $10,500; her anticipated future medical expenses were approximately $2,500; and her loss of income was approximately $5,000 for a total of approximately $18,000.[14] Instead, the company offered only $800. When McDonald’s refused to raise its offer, Liebeck retained Texas attorney Reed Morgan.

      Other documents obtained from McDonald’s showed that from 1982 to 1992 the company had received more than 700 reports of people burned by McDonald’s coffee

  • Jim

    She lied to the security on the way out of Safeway and claimed the sandwich was paid for. It was a very intentional “mistake.” This was why the manager got the police involved.