Can my brother be banned from a store becauseif theythink that he stole an item under about $5?

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Can my brother be banned from a store becauseif theythink that he stole an item under about $5?

My 19 year old brother was approached at a national retail chain by a security guard that he knew from college. The man told him that there was a video of him taking a deck of cards off the shelf, then taking it to the cafeteria. My brother said that he had bought it first but the man said that the video showed otherwise. My brother asked if he could see the video but the man said that he would have to press charges or be arrested for him to see it. He is now banned from the store and the cops will be called if he comes inside. If he did steal it, he said that it would have been an accident. What should he do?

Asked on December 21, 2011 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your brother can be banned from a private store or mall. Whether or not the security guard is telling him the truth that he has been banned is subject to conjecture in that custom and proctice of store owners is to send written notice of any ban to person certified mail, return receipt requested.

If your brother has not received any mailing concerning a ban as to himself concerning the store and mall that he was supposedly banned from, I suspect that the security guard may have been messing with him. If your brother has not been cited for theft of the deck of cards by now, he should have nothing to worry about.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

He should stay away from the store. A store does have a right to ban a customer whom it believes has stolen from it previously, and they do not have to prove the theft, as the authorities do in order to convict someone, to institute this ban--it is enough if they believe they have evidence or good cause to think this. An exception would exist if your brother believes he was targetted specifically because of his race--that could be illegal (depending on specific circumstances), and if he thinks this, he might consult with an attorney to discuss his recourse. But apart from this, a store may ban patron whom it belives stole or tried to steal.


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