EXCLUSIVE- mother speaks out about teen with Asperger’s who was arrested at Petco and spent night in jail



Jupiter, Florida– Back in February we were very concerned to read the story concerning Jared Segal, an 18-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome who was arrested at the pet store, Petco, where he was working. Police reports state that the reason for this was because of Jared giving customers “unauthorized discounts.”

He was charged with grand theft. The arrest happened on December 18 and resulted in Jared spending a night in prison. Charges have since been dropped.

Petco stated at the time that they were unaware that Jared had special needs but Jared was registered with Police as having autism.

The story can be seen on the video below.

Autism Daily Newscast contacted Jared’s mother, Denise Digiovanni-Segal to ask about what happened next to Jared and how life is now for the teenager and family. 

Jared2Denise told us that she did not “personally hear another word from Petco,” after the arrest. They called Jared fifteen minutes before the day of the first newscast. Denise told us that when Jared answered the phone to them, he was so nervous that he hung up.

“They called one more time and Lori called back and told the HR rep that Jared was not up for speaking to them, but she would be available to speak to them on his behalf. No more calls after that.”

After the incident, Petco offered Jared his job back, and Denise told us that the first they heard of this was when the National Rep from an autism group contacted them.

Jared's shirt

Jared’s shirt

Denise told that,

“Jared knows that if he steps foot on their property he could be arrested so that is what he thinks their intent is.”

“We also want the pressure on Corporate America to force change. Many people across the country have stopped shopping at Petco and Dr. Foster’s and Smith [who have just been bought by Petco] and are very verbal as to why.”

Denise is frightened for other young people, both neurotypical and on the spectrum, as they could find themselves in the same situation as her son, “because he was just doing what he was told to do by managers too “busy” to key in the coupons.”

Jared as the Petco dog at work, Denise told us that he was way out of his comfort zone in the outfit but that he did it for the job he loved.

Jared as the Petco dog at work, Denise told us that he was way out of his comfort zone in the outfit but that he did it for the job he loved.

Denise also told us that the corporate person from Petco, “dictated a letter for Jared to write.” He did not properly understand the reason behind this.

“She had him write a letter that would admit to wrong doing and therefore would land him in jail.”

Sadly, Denise shared with us that things are not going well at the moment for Jared. 

He is very anxious and is, “back to chewing his shirts, picking out all the seams and holding his tongue, all things that he worked very hard to control.” Denise said they have gone through at  least a dozen shirts during this upsetting period.

Denise did have some good news to share with us. Jared now has a new job and is enjoying it. At present he is working for a privately owned pizza place making deliveries.

“He does well with that because he is nice, looks nice and does well with the tips.”

Although enjoying his job, Denise told us that Jared still needs counseling due to the trauma of being arrested, but that this is proving to be difficult with his busy schedule. Their next step will be to try and get him some help to work through some of his anxiety issues.

We asked Denise about what else they need to do for Jared.

“For now, we are trying to keep Jared focused. His room looks like a nuclear bomb went off in it. It takes him at least three tries to get out of the house and would forget his head if it was not attached. He has taken quite a slide backwards in his functioning.”

Denise feels terribly disheartened that her son, who has worked incredibly hard to make progress, has now been knocked down and needs to start over again. The words that Denise used to describe how the family are feeling now is, ‘numb.’

Denise, Jared and Lori

Denise, Jared and Lori

Fortunately, Jared’s new employer knows all about what has happened and has been wonderfully supportive.

Denise ends on a positive, by telling us that the community that supported the family, have been amazing, and that people they did not know even reached out to them.

“Without this community, Jared would have faced trial although the DA admitted that there was no case.”

Denise further added:

“I will tell you that we are so thankful and so blessed to live in a community that stepped up for a kid and a family that they do not know.”
Editor’s Note: Autism Daily Newscast has reached out to Petco for further comment. Please share your comments of support for Jared below.
  • Maude says:

    Dear Jared
    I am a mother of a 18-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome. His name is Gabriel.
    Don’t let yourself slip down because of mean people too irresponsible to hone up for their laziness. It’s a good thing you don’t work for them anymore. Who wants to be surrounded by irresponsible jerks, right? Keep your head up and I’m sure your new job will bring you happiness! ((Hugs))

    • Denise DiGiovanni-Segal says:

      Thank you for your kind words. To make a difficult situation worse, Jared was mugged at knife point while at work. His new I phone and some cash were stolen. Now he is fearful and is back to looking for a job. Hopefully things lighten up for him soon.

      • Roberta Hill says:

        Denise – we are so sorry to hear this. Please note, Jared received lots of support on our FB page and tweets.

  • Brian S. Bradley says:

    I found this story very upsetting and will not shop at Petco. I hope and pray Jared finds productive employment without any hassles. Kudos to ADN and to the wonderful community that rallied behind Jared.

  • Nancy says:

    I am so very sorry this happened to Jared. The actions of Petco personnel were nothing short of egregious!!

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