A Beijing branch of US clothing chain American Apparel reportedly rejected a police request to see store surveillance footage of an alleged thief, saying the camera recordings were controlled by the parent company in the United States.
Police asked to see the footage after a customer reported that her smartphone went missing during a trip to the store in Sanlitun, the Beijing Morning News reported.
She and her husband suspected the phone was stolen by a thief when they were trying on clothes, and reported the incident to a police station in the area.
A police officer told them it should be easy to identify the suspect with the help of surveillance camera recordings in the shop.
The couple returned to the shop with the officer, but the shop staff said the surveillance system was controlled by the company’s US operations and they needed authorisation from the US headquarters to allow anybody to see the footage, the report said.
The customer detailed the incident on microblogging site Weibo, attracting more than 8,000 comments by Saturday afternoon.
American Apparel could not be reached for comment, the report said.
A Beijing-based lawyer said the store had an obligation to work with the police in a criminal investigation, according to the report.
The lawyer said Chinese law overrode internal company regulations and failure to help police could result in punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment.