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Instacart Driver Cited For Destroying Groceries Over Elderly Couple’s Pro-Police Sign

Blaine, MN – Blaine Police Chief Brian Podany said the 36-year-old Instacart driver who destroyed an elderly couple’s groceries because she disliked their pro-police yard sign has been cited for criminal damage to property but that police couldn’t prove she had committed a hate crime.

Police supporters have called for Tara Olivia Plum of Coon Rapids to be charged with a hate crime because she left a nasty note that indicated she’d destroyed the groceries she was delivering because of her hatred for police.

But Chief Podany said that Plum’s actions didn’t rise to the level of a hate crime, KARE reported.

“The facts in this case do not meet the elements required for an enhancement to a hate crime,” the Blaine Police Department said in a statement.

Blaine police said that in order for Plum to be charged with a hate crime, prosecutors would have to prove the property damage was motivated by the victim’s perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or national origin, KARE reported.

Plum has refused to be interviewed by police or reporters since she was accused of destroying the vulnerable couple’s shopping order.

The incident occurred on Dec. 6 when the elderly couple placed an order for $50 in groceries from their local Cub Foods through Instacart, WCCO reported.

Amber Gray, a relative of the victims, posted the details of what happened on her Facebook page on Dec. 8.

“Today two of my elderly relatives were victims of a hateful act. Targeted because of a small yard sign supporting their local police department,” Gray wrote.

“These people are two of the most beautiful, generous, loving souls I’ve ever known. This past year has been a rollercoaster of heartache and big life changes for them. Money is tight. Vulnerability is high,” the post continued.

“This morning they made an Instacart grocery purchase to be delivered to their door. Nothing crazy. Just a couple of bags worth. They received the usual notifications; Tara is shopping, Tara is on her way, Tara is in your neighborhood,” Gray wrote. “Worried that Tara might struggle in their un-shoveled driveway, they rushed out to meet her.”

“As they opened the door they heard Tara screaming for them to check inside their Christmas wreath,” she continued. “It also seemed that she was stuck in the driveway, rocking the car back and forth to get free? Seeing no groceries anywhere they checked the wreath. To their utter disbelief they found a hateful note crudely scribbled on a random receipt. In harsh bold marker it read, ‘Instacart doesn’t pay employees sry find another slave f-k the police racist pigs’.”

“A short time later they discovered their groceries in the driveway, casualties of Tara’s hateful act,” Gray explained. “She wasn’t stuck after all, she was running their groceries over.

She went on to explain that her elderly relatives were having financial and health problems.

“Tara probably doesn’t know how carefully those $50 in groceries were budgeted for. Or how devastating the recent medical diagnosis has been. Or how scared and vulnerable her vile act of hatred made them feel,” Gray wrote. “My heart breaks for my loved ones.”

The woman went on to say that “supporting law enforcement doesn’t make you racist” or give anyone the right to attack you or your belongings.

“I can only hope that Instacart does the right thing here and holds Tara accountable. I hope the Police Department is able to find Tara,” Gray wrote.

Chief Podany said detectives have spoken with the Instacart driver and said that, after reviewing the message left on the receipt, they determined the driver’s vandalism of the groceries was in response to a sign that said “Thank You Blaine PD” posted on their front lawn, KMSP reported.

“We’ve seen things with signs in the past, but something this brazen is really unfortunate and really uncalled for,” the police chief said.

“We’re in law enforcement, we get not everybody likes us, we understand that, but don’t take that out on innocent people out there, especially people who are trying to contribute to this person’s livelihood,“ Chief Podany said.

Instacart gave the elderly customers a full refund for their order, KMSP reported.

“We’re appalled by the unacceptable actions of this shopper, who has been removed from the Instacart platform as a result,” the company said in a statement. “We’ve been in direct contact with the customers to refund their order and provide additional resources. We’ll continue to provide support to the impacted customers and will also work directly with local law enforcement on any investigations into this matter.”

A GoFundMe, set up by Gray to bolster their grocery budget, raised almost $14,000 for the elderly couple before it was disabled.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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