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Crimes committed during Black Friday sales

An image of a person stealing a product from a shop

Black Friday sees retailers slash prices and effectively fire the starting pistol on Christmas shopping. But there is a downside to the amazing discounts being offered up for a short window of time. Namely: queues, crowds and chaos.

And, as this list of ugly incidents shows, things can even spill over into outright violence.

Confrontation in the car park

Black Friday 2013 was in full swing at the Kohl’s department store in Romeoville, Illinois, with late-night consumers dashing around trying to bag as many bargains as possible. Amid the bustle, staff noticed some men stealing clothes and called the police. That’s when things spiralled out of control.

Chasing the suspects through the car park, a cop grabbed onto one of them just as he was getting into the getaway car. This caused the officer’s arm to be trapped in the car door and he was dragged across the tarmac while the thieves attempted to speed away. Meanwhile, another cop drew his weapon and fired multiple times through the window at the driver, hitting him in the shoulder and halting the vehicle.

All of this took place in front of shoppers who snapped photos and then, once the madness was over, calmly resumed browsing the store.

Bedlam in Asda

On Black Friday 2013, what was described as a ‘phenomenal’ response to Asda promotions triggered violent chaos in branches of the supermarket across Northern Ireland. Hundreds of people had queued outside shops from the early hours, hoping to get their hands on heavily discounted TVs and other big-ticket items.

It was the first time Asda had put on Black Friday deals at such a scale, and witnesses reported ‘stampedes’ once the doors were opened. Security staff had to cope with customers coming to blows over items, while one woman was admitted to hospital with a broken wrist. A grandmother visiting a branch in County Armagh called a radio station to say the whole scene was ‘mental’ and that she feared for her grandchild’s safety.

The Black Friday knifeman

One of the most shocking Black Friday incidents occurred in Leeds in 2016. The setting was a city centre branch of HMV, which was all set for a very big day. Not only were there Black Friday sales on the agenda, but the pop band Busted were due to appear in the store to sign copies of their new album.

Dozens of people were lined up down the street when the shop opened its doors, but only minutes later a violent confrontation broke out between a suspected shoplifter and an off-duty police officer. The thief produced a knife and slashed the police officer across the hand, neck and face, though fortunately, the injuries weren’t life-threatening.

Trouble over trainers

In 2016, what was supposed to be a fun, buzzy late-night shoe sale at a Vancouver store erupted into yet another example of Black Friday craziness. A crowd had gathered at the Adidas store, drawn by the prospect of purchasing much-sought-after trainers which had been discounted. There were also people milling around on their way to bars and nightclubs, adding to a powder keg atmosphere.

Fights eventually broke out throughout the street, with one man tearing his shirt off and using his belt as a whip. ‘He was running around with his belt, swinging it at people,’ a teenage onlooker reported. ‘And then out of nowhere, some guy came behind and just started choking him.’

Police were called in, at least one person was hospitalized in the fracas, and there were glum faces all round when the Adidas sale had to be called off.

The runaway robber

Most shoplifters are subtle, but others… not so much. Take an incident from a Sacramento mall on Black Friday 2021. Staff spotted a man attempting to make off with items from a store, which wasn’t surprising since the guy was dressed all in black and wearing a black mask.

When confronted in the car park by a security guard, the masked marauder pulled out a gun. The guard, who had a concealed carry permit, responded in kind and managed to pull the trigger first. The suspect was hit multiple times at point-blank range, with the gunshots causing terrified shoppers in the mall to run for cover.

Incredibly, the injured culprit managed to flee the scene. His fiancée was the one who notified authorities when he turned up back at home covered in blood. A news report later confirmed ‘the suspect was reportedly angry that his fiancée had contacted the police.’

Gunfight in Toys “R” Us

One of the most deadly Black Friday incidents occurred back in 2008 when an argument between two women in a California branch of Toys “R” Us resulted in a lethal gunfight.

Onlookers reported that one woman began punching another woman near the checkout, giving her a bloody nose. Then, as families with small children looked on, both women’s partners pulled out their guns.

A violent pursuit ensued, with one of the men running into the electronics section, where he was fatally shot. But, as he bled out, he turned around and fatally shot the other man before collapsing. What had begun as a spat between their partners had led to the two murdering each other.