Shoplifting and Retail Theft Crimes
Interviewer: Let’s delve a little bit deeper into shoplifting and retail crimes. If someone steals from a store, are the employees legally allowed to hold a person or what would happen to them? Would they just call the police?
How the Initial Theft Charge Can be Upgraded to a Robbery Charge
Ladan Law: In Florida, yes, they may try to keep you. The loss prevention personnel or personnel from the store, can use reasonable tactics to keep you there. In fact, if you choose to push yourself past a loss prevention officer, or an employee of the store, they could, technically, charge this as a robbery because the robbery statute incorporates any force used to flee the initial crime of theft.
It’s a very bad idea to try to push your self past an employee or a loss prevention officer or security guard. You can make a situation that can be handled fairly easily and cleanly into a much more serious situation. The short answer to your question is, “Yes. They can stop you and they will make efforts to keep you from leaving the store.”
What Will Happen if You Are Detained at a Location for Theft
Interviewer: What will they do? Do they do like handcuffs or do they put you in a room or what would they typically do? Do they say, “Stay there until we call the police.”
Ladan Law: Ordinarily, they’ll approach you. They’ll say, “We believe that you got some property that you didn’t pay for. We’d like you to return to the store with us. We’ll take you to a private location in one of the back offices and we’d like to talk to you about it.” What most people don’t realize is that that private personnel or private security does not need to read their Miranda rights.
My advice to anybody that has been accused of taking something from a retail establishment is that they should not make any statements to those civilian employees. They should simply request that a law enforcement officer be brought and if they choose to have any discussion, it should be after they understand their Miranda warnings and after they understand that they have the right to have an attorney present for that initial questioning session.