If you were caught shoplifting and an employee approched you and asked to check you bag and you refuse, can they follow you outside and to your car?

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If you were caught shoplifting and an employee approched you and asked to check you bag and you refuse, can they follow you outside and to your car?

I was caught shopliting by a “secret shopper” (it was not on camera) and they approached me when I was leaving the store (still in the store) and asked to check my bag. I said no and continued walking. The store employee then continued to follow me out of the store and grabbed my shirt trying to get me to come back. I continued walking. They then followed me to my car and took my license plate number down and called the police. Is this legal for them to touch me and follow me out of the store?

Asked on July 29, 2012 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is a shopkeeper's privilege which allows detention for investigation and the use of reasonable nondeadly force.  If the shopkeeper had a reasonable belief that shoplifting had occurred, the store employee could follow you, ask to see your bag, note your license plate and even detain you and await the arrival of the police.  Therefore, under the circumstances the store employee's actions you described were reasonable and legal,


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