Delaware Cabela's in legal hot water over breaking no law?

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that theft happens. Stores often do what they can to minimize it, but there’s only so much they can do. Especially in light of many areas’ prosecutors refusing to actually prosecute shoplifters.

Yet in Delaware, a Cabela’s store’s problems with theft have landed the store in legal trouble.

Why? Because ammunition was stolen.

A sporting goods store in Delaware “watched half a million rounds of ammo walk out the door”, an attorney said.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings, through her Office of Impact Litigation, asked the Superior Court to enforce a subpoena – a court summons – against Cabela’s, Inc (“Cabela’s”) after at least 500,000 rounds of ammunition were stolen from its store in the Christiana Mall in Newark in less than a year.

Investigators believe a substantial portion of it was sold to drug dealers and other criminals in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

The probe began over reports that significant amounts of ammunition were being stolen from Cabela’s, which at the time stored ammunition unsecured in the middle of the sales floor and “made no apparent effort to stop massive shoplifting”.

After the Department of Justice sent Cabela’s a subpoena, the company relocated ammunition in the Christiana store to behind a sales counter but thus far, Cabela’s has failed to promptly or meaningfully respond to the state’s subpoena.

Now, not responding to the subpoena is a legal issue, but the rest of this is more than a little troubling.

See, the problem here is that Delaware officials are taking legal action against the store, but they’re not alleging they did anything illegal.

I checked to see if there were some restrictions on ammo sales in Delaware that this Cabela’s wasn’t in compliance with, but there doesn’t seem to be.

Giffords notes that while there is a minimum age to purchase ammo and there are laws against certain people possessing it, there are no requirements for things like background checks, etc.

No one is accusing the store of selling ammunition illegally. They’re not accused of knowingly handing out ammo to criminals. Nothing like that.

So, they broke absolutely no laws.

Yet the state of Delaware is engaging in legal action against a store that is ultimately the victim here. They’re engaging in outright victim blaming.

Plus, frankly, I have questions about their numbers.

I mean, there are no background checks required on ammo sales. There’s nowhere near the tracking on ammunition sales that there is on firearms, either.

So just how in the hell do they figure 500,000 rounds were stolen?

At 50 rounds per box, that’s 10,000 boxes of ammunition. If you’re talking about bricks of .22, then it gets even easier for a number like that to be reached, but there aren’t a lot of criminals packing .22 handguns.

While most stores have to deal with a certain degree of theft, it’s hard to imagine that Cabela’s didn’t notice something like that from their stores. Even if it’s inexpensive ammo, you’re probably still looking at roughly $15 a box for 10,000 boxes.

You can do the math.

If Cabela’s isn’t seeing that kind of loss at that store, how does the state of Delaware figure the theft is that high?

Regardless, the state is still going through the legal system to deal with a private entity that was the victim of a crime, all because they were robbed of a disfavored product. That’s not criminal. It’s not illegal to be robbed of ammunition and there are no regulations requiring ammo to be stored behind the counter.

Frankly, it’s kind of a pain for customers if it is.

To be honest, this leaves me with so many questions and I doubt the state of Delaware is interested in answering them.