By Kurtis Ming

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Several Walmart locations in the Sacramento area are locking up hair care products marketed to African-American Shoppers.

Tracy Green, a grandmother, alerted us after a recent trip with her granddaughter to the Walmart in the Florin area.

She sent 16-year-old Avonna Stewart to grab rubber bands for braiding, leave-in conditioner, and tea tree oil.

Avonna returned empty-handed finding all three items were locked up.

“They’re in the case. I can’t get it myself,” said Avonna.

Grandma Tracy had to see it for herself and snapped a picture.

“Everything that had a black face on there for black hair care products, it’s locked behind the glass,” said Tracy.

Avonna was in disbelief. “I felt kind of confused. ‘Cause like who wants to steal 99-cent rubber bands,” she said.

Other viewers also alerted us to black hair care products that were locked up at other Sacramento Walmart locations, so our producer went undercover in three different stores: Florin Road in South Sacramento, West Sacramento, and Natomas.

Walking down the aisles, we shot cell phone video of all the hair care products out in the open. But when it comes to these specialized products, some with black models on the labels, we found they were locked behind glass.

Customers are required to press a button for help.  Our producer at the Florin store did this three times; no one came, and she had to hunt down a clerk to unlock the case.

Producer: “Excuse me, sir. Is there someone that can help me?”

The clerk unlocked the products for us.

Producer:  “Why is this locked up anyway?”

Clerk: “High-theft items. It’s coming from the people above us. They tell us to lock things up.”

She pushes back, after finding the 94-cent braiding bands, and the leave-in conditioner, Avonna bought.

Producer:  “This is only three bucks. Why is it being locked up?”

Clerk:  “We’re told what to put in here, so.”

Tracy doesn’t feel this is right.

“How would you explain this to your grandchild?”

During our investigation, we ran into Deanna Ridgway, at the West Sacramento store. She pointed out to us all the black hair products that were behind glass.

“This is all us.  All this is us.”

Deanna says it’s the second Walmart where the items she needs are locked up.

“It made me feel like I was being isolated and that it was a little insensitive,” she said.

The Sacramento Chapter of the ACLU called the practice blatant discrimination that’s degrading, demoralizing and illegal.

The Unruh Civil Rights Act / Cal. Civ. Code § 51(b)

“It’s utterly ridiculous and they should be ashamed of themselves,” said Abre’ Conner, ACLU Staff Attorney.

Kurtis Ming:  “If Walmart was able to provide hard evidence that showed these particular products are stolen more often than others, some may say they should lock them up.

Attorney Abre’ Conner: “I say there’s no way that every single product behind that glass door can be a risk of being stolen more often than any other product.”

We reached out to Walmart Corporate, which sent this statement;

“We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at Walmart. We serve more than 140 million customers weekly, crossing all demographics, and are focused on meeting their needs while providing the best shopping experience at each store. Like other retailers, Walmart uses enhanced security on some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics, and other personal care products. Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting the need for the heightened measures. Our goal is to ensure that we offer a wide variety of products to our diverse array of customers at the low prices they have come to expect.”

Tracy said she heard a different message.

“It says that they consider us to be thieves. [That] we’re less customers to them maybe; I don’t know what to think,” she said.

CBS stations in Los Angeles and Philadelphia randomly checked some Walmart locations and did not find the same products locked up.

Comments (15)
  1. Shannon Cunningham says:

    Black people are NOT the only ones with black hair so for them to say they are the only race being singled out as thieves is silly, Asians, Indians of many heritage, Mexicans, even whites have black hair, so Yes its ok for walmart lock up product that keeps vanishing despite who thinks they are being singled out, Unless your feeling guilty about something.

  2. I am SUING Walmart for being racist against Whites! Rancho Cordova WALMART LOCKs UP SHAVERS and other products not just because blacks live there. NO they dont just lock up high price but HIGH THEFT products and yes I would like to see the numbers on Black Care product thefts versus the NON Black products, tell us.

  3. Nancy Sandretto says:

    I think this is total discrimination. I have seen the high end hair brands locked up before. Razors and white strips for teeth and even make up but this is way beyond trying to prevent theft of more expensive items. I am white and I am seriously offended and upset by this.(I buy products in this section also.) I say Wal Mart needs to apologize public and soon or be prepared to lose in court.

  4. Alan Hart says:

    It’s probably the computer item tracking system. An item bought it is logged for reorder. If the item gone does not have a purchase log match, it probably was shoplifted.
    Those missing/shoplifted items get locked up, just like shavers, blades etc

  5. Howard Fox says:

    Surprised to see this pop up as I heard about this one or two years ago. Guess it is ratings time.
    It has gotten to the point that a business can not operate without one group or another seeing problems. The best way to deal with a complaint is to stop shopping at that business.

  6. Dartana West says:

    Walmart in Modesto has their Make-up in a section where you enter and pay on exit area it’s fenced off at the McHenry Ave store, they have Cameras for their Products easily taken all over Walmart stores! I had my Purse stolen at Walmart a few years ago inside the store they do not care, they wouldn’t even look at their Videos, I yelled help to see if Security would even come, nope no one even walked around the Isle where there was an associate the next Isle over, that was on Plaza Park way, the Cameras are only for the store, they wouldn’t even call the Police! they have Security in the Parking lot I don’t know why they said they are only there for making Phone calls on Vandalism, but they didn’t do anything when the Parking lot had people throwing Carts and stealing out the back of the store it was a mess, they did nothing, I didn’t even have a Phone to call the Police? Walmart gives people a false since of security , when you see the Security in the Parking lot you think they will help you but that’s just not true,

  7. Paulo Munaro says:

    oh omg what in the world is going on if I own a Store that sells products that are being stolen i got the wright to lock it up as a foreigner just go to any other country outside the USA and everything is behind the counter please!!!!!!!!

  8. Bob Gill says:

    1. To buy men’s shaving razors at my local WalMart I, as a Caucasion male, I must buy them in the women’s cosmetics section. This is outrageous discrimination against men – forcing me to shop as if I am a woman!

    2. When I find the razors I seek – in the women’s cosmetics section! – they are locked up! I must ask for assistance from a WalMart employee to unlock the low cost product I wish to buy! As a white man I am offended and outraged that they believe men like me – adult, white males – are stealing their razors! Clear case of both gender and racial discrimination!!

    C’mon man!… (please recognize the intended sarcasm of the above comments.)

    At what point does protecting specific, high-theft merchandise from being stolen become racial discrimination???

    ACLU, get a grip! Please, do your homework before you cry wolf!

  9. Alan Hart says:

    I feel sorry for all you folk that are FORCED to shop at Walmart with no other option.
    Must be hell

  10. Eileen Kephart says:

    …And that’s why “Justice” for African-Americans is…’Just Us’ being singled out for unjust treatment. And that’s not right.

  11. Sheri Swink says:

    It’s not just black hair care products. This is not a race issue, but a case of punishing the honest because they have no decent way of preventing theft. I had to wait 15 minutes for a $1. nail file. No more. If they’re that worried about loss, they can keep it. I’ll just buy these items from a store that doesn’t treat me like a criminal.

  12. Catherine Sox says:

    Walmart has a security case on Neutrogena skin care products. I have to get someone to remove the case in order to purchase. I think aWalmart is just trying to decrease theft throughout the store. You have to have your receipt checked before leaving the store . Can’t fault Walmart

  13. Bruce Pestell says:

    One of the “costs” of retail is called “shrinkage”. Shrinkage programs also called anti-shoplifting, are common and necessary to control prices and profits. These programs do not target anyone but thieves.

  14. Brenda Bryant says:

    I just went to the Natomas Walmart and the products are locked up there too. I am officially boycotting Walmart!

Leave a Reply