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Big W customer hits out at store's 'unlawful' rule after valuables stolen

A trip to Big W has turned into an ordeal for one Queensland family, after a 14-year-old boy's belongings were stolen while he was in the store.

When the Year 9 student visited Atherton Big W last week, he left his school bag at the entrance to comply with the store's long-standing rule that school students must not enter with their bags. As he was leaving, he realised his bag was gone.

"There is meant to be a staff member at the entrance at all times," the boy's mother told Yahoo News. "But upon leaving, my son discovered that his bag had been stolen, containing his laptop, with all of his schoolwork in it."

Big W front of store with logos. Source: AAP
The mother claims that no Big W team members were stationed at the door and watching the school bags. Source: AAP

The irate mother says the expectation for school bags to be left at the door of the store is unlawful.

"There was no need for his bag to be left there at all. It's not law, it can be checked upon exit if they're worried about shoplifting. Yet now he's the one who's had something stolen," she said.

The Queensland woman told Yahoo News that her son hadn't been able to return to school for a number of days following the incident, for which she's demanding Big W take financial responsibility.

"If they want the bags left at the door, then they need to supervise them. Would they just leave their handbag or wallet on the floor in a doorway, open for grabs?"

"I believe they should be held responsible for replacing the laptop and bag and contents, since my son abided by their ridiculous rule, and now suffers by them," the woman added.

The expectation of children to leave their bags at the store entrance has long been enforced at a number of Big W locations, with another mother raising similar concerns over two years ago.

Mother slams store staff's response to theft: 'Declined to call the police'

The boy's mother has also taken aim at the Big W store's management, accusing them of showing "no care".

"Upon leaving the store, my son discovered that his bag had been stolen, and he became very anxious, and asked the store to call the police, which they declined to do," she said.

"The store checked their cameras, saw it being stolen, told him he could report it himself if he chose to, that the perp is well known to them and police."

Schoolbag and ripped school work. Source: Supplied
A member of the public found the bag with several items destroyed, and many others unaccounted for. Source: Supplied

The young boy reported the incident to Queensland Police, while his mother turned to social media for information from crime-watch groups.

A number of days later, a member of the community located the bag near a local toilet block. A number of things were missing from the bag and the remaining items were damaged.

Queensland Police have confirmed with Yahoo News that investigations are ongoing.

Big W issues apology to family

A spokesperson from Big W has told Yahoo News that they have been "working closely with the police on the incident in the Atherton store".

"On occasion, students do choose to leave their school bags at the front of the store before entering, however we do acknowledge that customers are asked to do this from time to time by our team," said the spokesperson.

"In the spirit of listening to our customers, we will be reminding our store team members across Australia that asking customers to leave belongings at the front of our store is not part of our store process.

"We have reached out to the customer's family to offer compensation for the bag and its contents today, and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused the student and their family."

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