Walmart Greeter Who Let Moms Steal Baby Formula Because He Only Made $11.50 An Hour Defends His Decision

He says the high cost of formula proves "our society has failed to help those who are less fortunate." He doesn't regret correcting the problem.

TikTokers talking about letting people steal baby formula TikTok, Reddit

Feeding a baby has never been cheap, but with the rate of inflation in recent years it has become downright impossible for all too many—so much so that there has been a rash of baby formula thefts stretching back nearly five years now.

A man on TikTok named Brandon who used to work at Walmart was on the front lines of trying to prevent this kind of theft while he worked for the company. But when it came to baby formula, he refused to play by the rules.


A former Walmart greeter let moms steal baby formula and has no regrets.

Theft of baby formula has become so common since the price of baby formula has soared so high, particularly since the pandemic, that women have even ended up with jail sentences for stealing the food the babies in their families need.

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The Walmart employee said he was not paid enough to stop moms from stealing baby formula.

Brandon explained that as a Walmart greeter, his job was to be the person who "says hi and bye and also checks your receipt before you leave the store."




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Greeters check the receipts to make sure the amount of merchandise the customer is leaving the store with matches up to the amount they paid, to weed out thieves. But when it came to baby formula and other must-have items for babies, Brandon refused to comply with the store's policies.

"Every time I saw a customer, mostly a woman, when I checked the receipt and I saw Pampers or baby formula that was not on the receipt, I just said, have a great day," he said. "Why? Because they're expensive, and kids are expensive in general... I'll check the receipt, and I'm like, you're good. Have a great day."


He went on to say that Walmart's policies gave him no incentive to make a struggling mom's life harder by reporting her for stealing baby necessities. "We didn't really get a reward for the amount of stuff we caught people stealing," Brandon said, pointing out that it was actually the job of Asset Protection workers—Walmart's term for security guards and loss prevention workers—to prevent theft, not his.

And his rate of pay was not enough to make him do that work either. "[Asset Protection] would be pissed," when he didn't try to stop moms from stealing, he said. "But did I care? No, because I was making $11.50 [per hour] during that time."

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The rate at which moms steal baby formula has skyrocketed in recent years due to inflation, shortages, a thriving black market and an insufficient safety net. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of baby food of all types has soared since the pandemic began, after already having been ticking up far faster than ever before beginning in late 2018—right about the time massive thefts began.


For perspective, in the 10 years before the pandemic, baby food prices ticked up an average of 2.1% per year, but since 2020? A staggering 6.7% each year. And with formula running anywhere from $20 to $60 per can, those increases add up quickly.

That doesn't take into account the massive shortages of baby formula throughout the US in 2022—which many baby formula manufacturers took as an opportunity to price gouge desperate mothers even further—or the bustling black market these forces have helped flourish.

Add in the difficult logistics and costs of breastfeeding being prohibitive to many mothers, and the US's social safety net programs like WIC coming with major restrictions, and it's not exactly hard to understand why so many moms steal baby formula to get by.


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The Walmart greeter admits 'stealing is wrong,' but that moms stealing baby formula is a societal and political problem he can't solve.

"Stealing is wrong," Brandon said in a follow-up video. But he argues that moms steal baby formula because of far bigger problems.



"[It] shows that our society has failed to help those who are less fortunate," he said in a follow-up TikTok, "and I literally mean that government assistance cannot go far." He also called for more government regulation on baby formula pricing, "especially when it comes to inflation." He also called for lawmakers to "make baby formula and diapers tax exempt.


And when it came to his fellow TikTokers, most of them were in total agreement. "I think what you did is wonderful," one commenter wrote. "Our system fails those who have less."

Others felt that at the end of the day, stealing baby formula is a victimless crime. As one TikToker put it, "If every single person who walked into Walmart stole something, they would still make billions of dollars." They are the most lucrative brick-and-mortar retailer in the world, after all. 

But one commenter summed up the true heart of the matter, ethics and morality aside. "If I absolutely had no other choice I would do whatever it takes for my baby," she wrote. "I said what I said."


At the end of the day, making sure moms aren't put in the position of "having no other choice" isn't a Walmart greeter's job. It's the job of the government and legislators to whom we pay our taxes. Maybe we should be checking their receipts instead.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.