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I'm sure there are a million things you'd like to do to a shoplifter in your store. That's your merchandise (and hard earned revenue) walking out the door.
But you don't want to get in trouble yourself, right? So what are your legal rights when dealing with shoplifters?
A Pound of Cure
A private individual who wrongfully detains a person can be sued for false imprisonment. However, store owners are given a bit more leeway if they think someone is stealing something from their store. Known as the shopkeeper's privilege, store owners or their employees are generally allowed to detain a person who they have probable cause to believe is shoplifting.
But this right isn't absolute. In order to legally stop and search a shoplifting suspect:
An Ounce of Prevention
If you'd like to be more proactive about confronting shoplifting, there are some ways to prevent shoplifters before they shoplift. People normally don't steal from people they like, so being friendly, neighborly, and offering great customer service can rob some folks' of their incentive to steal. And keeping your merchandise well organized and with the most commonly shoplifted items near the register instead of the door can dissuade potential thrill-seekers and thieves.
Having a comprehensive and consistent shoplifting policy can help you avoid many of the most common shoplifting pitfalls. If you need help crafting a shoplifting policy, or with a rampant shoplifting problem, an experienced commercial attorney could help.
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