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Opinion: Woman says Burnaby big box clerk stole ‘explicit’ photos off phone during sale

Woman left in tears after this violation of her privacy
Would you hand over your phone in this case? iStock photo

*This article has been updated with new information.

E.D. has a warning for people, but mostly other women.

It’s a warning about how awful some men truly are and how you have to be protective to the point of paranoia about anybody’s motives, which is a sad commentary on our society.

E.D. told me about how a worker at a Burnaby big box store managed to steal “explicit” images of her off her phone during a recent sales. I, unfortunately, can’t name the store or the worker because I haven’t been able to independently verify all of the details, but I’m writing this because E.D. wants people to know what happens when you trust a stranger.

E.D. and her boyfriend went to the store looking to buy a drone. They browsed for a while and then spoke to a clerk looking for advice on what type of drone to buy.

They showed the clerk a photo of a drone they liked that was stored on the phone of E.D.’s boyfriend.

The clerk then proceeds to take the phone from her boyfriend's hand so he can "look in the back and see if we have it."

That’s when the trouble started.

“My boyfriend and I give him permission to take the phone because well, why not?” E.D. said. “He wants to help us, right? After all, he is an employee for the store. For about 20 to 30 minutes, (the clerk) goes back and forth from us and the ‘back room’ making it seem like he was helping us find a drone we liked. My boyfriend and I thought it was odd that he would be gone for 5 - 6 minutes at a time, but we just assumed that he was just trying really hard to help us.”

In the end, they decided not to get a drone that day and so they left.

“We reach home and as my boyfriend is exiting the car, he looks at his messages and sees a number he does not recognize,” E.D. said. “When he clicks on the conversation, he sees explicit images and videos of me from his phone sent to that unknown number. We look at the time stamp of the message and it was sent only 10 minutes ago when we were at (the store). We call the unknown number and it goes directly to the voicemail of (the clerk). While that son of a bitch had my boyfriend's phone to ‘look for a drone’ he dug through my boyfriend's photos and sent himself seven private images and videos that I sent to my boyfriend from a private and hidden album. I burst into complete tears and panic as we rush back to (the store) and call the police. This whole experience was and continues to be incredibly traumatic for me. It haunts me every day. I cry every day.”

Now having posted this column, I really don’t want to hear from people saying the couple were to blame for handing over the phone. Trusting someone to not be a monster does not mean you were “asking for it” – a phrase I often see people use in these situations.

It’s terrible that people have to get these warnings and that our society’s trust gets further eroded. 

*Since this column first ran, E.D. has updated me to make clear that the photos were hidden away in an album and were not easily accessible. She has also decided to not proceed with charges because she struck the clerk when she confronted him about the situation.

"Though it was just slap in the face (a mere fraction of what he deserved), assault is assault and the constable on site informed me that if i pressed charges against (the clerk), he could retaliate and press assault charges on me," E.D. said.

The clerk did, however, get fired. So some justice here.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.