What is the proper procedure for stopping a shoplifter?

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What is the proper procedure for stopping a shoplifter?

I was shoplifting and stopped outside. I refused to go back in with them so they grabbed my purse, which had all items and my wallet (with my money), etc. What should I do?

Asked on April 3, 2012 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Courts have generally upheld the right of store employees to excercise controll over shoplifters to detain them for law enforcement.  This includes the limited use of force.  They could also take possession of the purse if they had viewed you potentially storing stolen items in it.  What they cannot do is use excessive force.  For example, they could administer their own corporal punishment for your theft.  If they have taken your purse and are refusing to turn it over, that it a theft in itself-- they can only retrieve their property from your purse-- not take 'bonuses' from your purse.  If they still have your purse, contact the law enforcement agency that responded to get it back.  If the store turned the purse over to the agency as evidence, the agency may still have your purse, and they may choose to keep it as evidence until the case is concluded.  This will usually turn on department policies.  So you just need to inquire and find out what that agency's policy are about the retention of this type of evidence. 


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