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MikeG
learner
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What would you do?

submitted on May 27, 2009 by MikeG in "Member's Lounge"
http://www.crunchgear.com/2009.....ver-again/

Anyhow, as we’re exiting the Best Buy, on our way to the parking lot, the security alarm goes off. In my experience, the guy standing watch by the exit usually just waves you on—“it’s cool, just go”—since the alarm goes off all the time. (Shouldn’t that be fixed?) Not on Saturday.

The guy on watch immediately comes over to us, saying something like “stop right there,” with the tone of voice that suggested he was on a massive power trip. My initial reaction, at least mentally, was “no, I’m not stopping.” But whatever, let’s see what he has to say.

He then instructs my brother to lift his shirt up (?!) and empty out his pockets, and asks me to empty my pockets. I pulled out my phone and said something like, “Are you allowed to do this, or is this police-only type of thing?”

Then the guy motions us back into the store—the above took place in that little divider part between doors, where the gum ball machines are—and brings us to a table in plain view of all the other shoppers. Oh, great, now we have a situation, I’m thinking. The guy’s “you messed with the wrong man” grimace and tone of voice really put us off. He then proceeds to rifle through the contents of my brother’s wallet, like a police officer would. Never mind how hard it’d be to stuff an Xbox 360 or wireless router inside a wallet, it was the whole situation here that annoyed me.

Again I asked the guy, “Is this even legal? Are you permitted to look though our wallets, ask us to lift our shirts and empty our pockets because the alarm, which goes off every time I come here, went off?” After about a minute—I’m not going to exaggerate for effect and claim something ridiculous, it was only about a minute—of looking over our items, he says, “Go on, get out of here.” Gee, thanks. Next time I’ll strip naked and you can make sure there’s nothing on my person.


Has this ever happened to you? Would you let him search your stuff, or call the police and wait fight for your rights?
 

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  Comments
  • 26436
    Solstice
    professor
    1 6 2
    11 4 1
    Posted by Solstice on May 27, 2009
    [reply] 0 1
    Talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen. Eeek (Note: The following varies from state to state.)

    I'm familiar with aspects of the law, and generally speaking the guy can't really even touch you in most cases, much less go through your belongings unless an actual police officer is present, and then the officer better be doing it.

    Basically unless its painfully obvious that you hiding a Wii console in you back pocket, that reliable witness is present, and/or they have you on film, they can't do much.

    If you really want to get technical, you have not committed any crime until you leave the store, and up until that point you have not actually shoplifted. In a shoplifting case you have to prove intent, which can be harder than it sounds.

    The security officer and the alarm system work on two basic factors or premises.

    1. Instilling fear of being caught.

    2. Assumes the shoplifter or customer is not familiar with
    the law.

    I would have told the guy to politely go hump himself.
      26450
    • overaged
      apprentice
      1 1 1
      Posted by overaged on May 27, 2009
      [reply] 0 1
      If you really want to get technical, you have not committed any crime until you leave the store, and up until that point you have not actually shoplifted.


      This is incorrect at least in California. You do not have to leave the store before your are detained/placed under arrest.

      Once you pass the cash register, get close to leaving store with no intent to pay you can be arrested. But most stores/security wait till you leave the store cause then it really does prove you had no intention of paying as you both passed the registers and left the store with merchandise unpaid for.

      Example: I go to XYZ store. I put a radio in my pocket, I also go get a dvd and go to the register to pay for the DVD. I still have the radio in my pocket. As soon as I complete my transaction for the DVD without paying for the radio and I start walking away from the register I can be arrested.
    • 26458
    • Solstice
      professor
      1 6 2
      11 4 1
      Posted by Solstice on May 27, 2009
      [reply] 0 1
      You're incorrect with regards to showing a perfect case of intent.

      My advice is to go talk to a good lawyer, as he can explain it to you.

      I'm not particularly inclined to explain it to you, and you would just argue anyway.
    • 26461
    • overaged
      apprentice
      1 1 1
      Posted by overaged on May 27, 2009
      [reply] 0 1
      I'm not incorrect. I have seen this happen more than once. You CAN be arrested before leaving the store.
  • 26438
    overaged
    apprentice
    1 1 1
    Posted by overaged on May 27, 2009
    [reply] 0 1
    The guy should not have gone with him to the back room. Unless the guy is placed under arrest he does not have to go with security anywhere. But most people don't know this.

    If it was me, when the security/yellow shirt guy asked me/motioned me to go to the back room I would have asked him If I was under arrest. If I was under arrest then they would get me to that room but if he says no, then I am free to leave.
    When you ask him if you are under arrest this puts them with the cards to make the right decision and unless they are 100% sure you stole something they will let you go due to liability issues.

    Mind you this is California Law. I cannot speak for other states.
      26443
    • Solstice
      professor
      1 6 2
      11 4 1
      Posted by Solstice on May 27, 2009
      [reply] 0 1
      My current state has the exact same set-up, and many other states do as well, but to be safe you should check with each individual one that you reside in.

      Its safe to say we are speaking in generalities here legally.
    • 26452
    • MrCheap
      professor
      2
      1 1 1
      Posted by MrCheap on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
      Does the security need to state 'you are under arrest' for it to become a basis for future litigation? Do you need a witness? Can you just use common sense and assume they place you under arrest if they stop you at the door and start checking your pockets?
    • 26460
    • Solstice
      professor
      1 6 2
      11 4 1
      Posted by Solstice on May 27, 2009
      [reply] 0 1
      They cannot place you under arrest in the formal sense... Period.
  • 26444
    MikeG
    learner
    Posted by MikeG on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
    I thought a security guard can not arrest you... only police have that privilege.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I would have done.. My first instinct would probably have been to cooperate with security.
  • 26449
    overaged
    apprentice
    1 1 1
    Posted by overaged on May 27, 2009
    [reply] 0 1
    It's more like detain you. but they do have the power to make a citizens arrest. Security does have the right to detain you with probable cause for a period of time.
    But if they don't detain you and they usually don't without knowing for sure you committed a crime, then the arrest question usually makes them play on a legal field cause it also lets them know that you in fact know your rights.
      26453
    • MrCheap
      professor
      2
      1 1 1
      Posted by MrCheap on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
      What is the difference between detention and citizens arrest?
    • 26459
    • Solstice
      professor
      1 6 2
      11 4 1
      Posted by Solstice on May 27, 2009
      [reply] 0 1
      1. Read up more on the concept of "citizens arrest" in your state to be enlightened.

      2. I already outlined the "knowing for sure" issue above. Good job rephrasing though.
  • 26454
    MrCheap
    professor
    2
    1 1 1
    Posted by MrCheap on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
    I have no clue what I would have done. I have no experience at all with shoplifting or getting detained. I mean none of my friends or anyone I know ever got in a situation like this. I guess I would not try to resist or do any stupid mistake, probably mostly because of my ignorance Red Face
  • 26466
    overaged
    apprentice
    1 1 1
    Posted by overaged on May 27, 2009
    [reply] 0 1
    I use the terms arrest and detained intertwined and I probably shouldn't do so. Because once you are detained you are essentially "under arrest" at least mentally as you are not free to leave on your own accord anymore once you have been detained.

    A security has the right to detain you at any point before leaving the store but like I said earlier they usually do not do this until after you have indeed left the store.
    The cops are the ones who do the official "arrest" but a security can make a citizens arrest if they so choose.
  • 26470
    phunkeey
    teacher
    Posted by phunkeey on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
    If I had a shopping bag, I'd let them look through it. There's always the possibility that they left a security tag on. If I didn't have a shopping bag and didn't purchase anything (and of course didn't shoplift anything) I'd keep walking. Under no circumstances would I allow a rent-a-cop to touch me much less search my person.
      26491
    • MikeG
      learner
      Posted by MikeG on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
      In theory you could be forcibly detained if you keep walking.
    • 26493
    • phunkeey
      teacher
      Posted by phunkeey on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
      According to crimedoctor.com (http://www.crimedoctor.com/shoplifting2.htm), that is the case ONLY if Shoplifting Probable Cause has been established by meeting the following criteria:

      "Before detaining anyone, you must establish Shoplifting Probable Cause. To establish a solid base for probable cause and prevent false arrest claims, there are six universally accepted steps that a merchant should follow before deciding to stop someone suspected of shoplifting:

      1. You must see the shoplifter approach your merchandise
      2. You must see the shoplifter select your merchandise
      3. You must see the shoplifter conceal or carry away or convert your merchandise
      4. You must maintain continuous observation the shoplifter
      5. You must see the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
      6. You must approach the shoplifter outside of the store"

      If these criteria are not met and a customer is forcibly detained then you can sue the store for false imprisonment according to The Legal Lad (http://legallad.quickanddirtyt.....hts.aspx):

      "You also might have a claim under the tort of false imprisonment. In most states, you can sue a store if you can show that they deprived you of your liberty without your consent and without legal justification. This normally arises when you are suspected of shoplifting, and a store manager or security guard prevents you from leaving the store without first searching your bags.

      Typically, this type of case will turn on how reasonable it was for the store to detain you. For example, if a store manager thinks he sees you taking a camera off the shelf and putting it in your bag, the manager can detain you long enough to search your bag to determine if, in fact, you have the camera. If the manager forces you to stay longer, then he is acting less reasonably because he no longer has a valid reason to believe that you stole something."
  • 26483
    Tarun
    novice
    Posted by Tarun on May 27, 2009 [reply] 0 0
    I'd make them take the bag and go back in, then laugh as they set off the alarm. Then I'd walk back in with a smug grin at the fact the alarm didn't go off on me. If the guy had been rude like above, I would have asked for the manager and gone from there. Smile
  • 26655
    llocomotive
    apprentice
    1
    1
    Posted by llocomotive on May 28, 2009 [reply] 0 0
    Kicked his a**

    btw...what's with the deals Q. They are backed up for 2 hrs now Idea Idea Idea

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