Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'I'VE BEEN STOPPED FOR SHOPLIFTING!": STORE SECURITY AND YOUR RIGHTS

You were browsing at a department store and had just left, when suddenly store security approaches you. They ask you to come with them. What are your rights?

If a merchant believes you have been shoplifting, they may detain you if they reasonably believe that you have unpaid merchandise. The detention can be made in order to 1) request your identification, 2) verify it’s authenticity; 3) reasonably ascertain whether you have stolen merchandise in your possession, and 4) surrender you to a peace officer. If you are a minor, the store must attempt to inform your guardian and surrender a minor to either the guardian or the police. (Authority: 720 ILCS 5/16A-5.)

According to the statute, the store is presumed to have reasonable cause to detain you if you possess a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection device remover.

Any detention must be for a reasonable length of time and conducted in a reasonable manner. And the store must have reasonable cause to stop you. Of course, what is considered reasonable is a matter of opinion. You probably cannot be chained to a desk or held for hours at a time. But whether an hour is too long may be open for debate.

The store may have a right to check your receipt or look in your bag, but you may still request an attorney and you can refuse to answer questions. In Illinois, some silent videotaping of premises, such as the dressing rooms, may be permitted for the limited purpose of preventing theft. Usually, there should be warnings that the dressing rooms are monitored.

If you are detained by store security, you should refrain from making a confession. Later, you may be taken into police custody and released on bond, or alternatively, brought to court the next day so that a judge may set bond.

No matter what the case, you should not discuss this matter with the police or anyone else. You may be able to win the case at court if you do not damage your chances by trying to explain yourself to the police or by making a statement.

If you have any questions about your situation, please do not hesitate to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves clients in the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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