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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Texas

    Basically, I went into the store, and took 46 dollars worth of stuff. I had previously stolen electronic items from the same store a month or two ago but those did not total up to over 100 dollars.

    As I was walking to the checkout, I saw a security guard eyeing me so I walked away pretty quickly and he followed me. Here I want to make it absolutely clear that I was not trying to walk out of the store itself, at least not at that point. I was walking to the checkout. Not sure of that matters. Anyway, after he started following me, naturally I tried to ditch the stuff, but he caught me ditching it. He made me go back and get every item I had dropped and then I emptied out my pockets and he said "do you feel like spending some time in jail?" So I of course said no. Then he asked where all the other stuff was, mentioning the electronics and indicating he knew that I had stolen from there before. I just said "I don't have any electronics." And then he asked why I did it, etc. and without anything further being said by him, I said "I'll pay for it."

    So he responded "ok well then that's a different story." Then he escorted me to the front counter where I paid for the goods with a debit card. He didn't really keep behind me or anything or explain what was going on to the cashier, but he communicated with several employees from a distance and they all turned around to look at me whenever he spoke, so its pretty obvious he was telling them what was going on. I paid for the goods and left.

    The I realized when I emptied my pockets earlier I had left my phone, so I ran into the store, grabbed it, and walked out. No more than 5 minutes had passed between when I walked out and when I walked back in, but the security guard was gone and business seemed to be going on as normal. Didn't get any weird looks.

    The guy never asked my name or for any of my information, I never spoke to anyone besides him about the nature of what was happening or anything like that. So it seems like I got off for free. However the thing I'm concerned about is the fact that its a chain store not some little mom and pop shopping place and I hear they love to prosecute so I'm wondering why, if it wasn't the first instance of me stealing from that specific location, I got off like that?

    I know this sounds extremely paranoid of me, but is there any way they can retrieve the information from my debit card transaction and get my address and name and all that, and then proceed to prosecute for the previous instance of theft, or for an instance of attempted theft or something like that? Is that why he didn't try to prosecute? This may not even be the correct forum to ask this question to, but I wasn't sure where else to turn. I mean I feel like even if they had the capability to do that, they wouldn't do it because it could have theoretically been anyone's debit card. And they cant exactly use that information to pursue legal charges on someone if they aren't certain of the card owner...can they?

    Also he never said anything like "don't come back" or anything like that. Of course I'm avoiding the store like the plague anyway, but does this mean if I ever walk into that particular store again anyone can come up to me at any time now and just call the cops on me for the previous instance of theft that I did get away with?

    By the way not to sound cocky or anything. I actually feel really terrible about this and have never done anything wrong in my life aside from this. I guess I just got seized by a bit of kleptomania. But I really don't need responses that just say "i hope you learned your lesson" or anything like that. I just need facts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    9,640

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    I've never head of such a thing. There's nothing to stop them from making a criminal complaint. They know who you are (presumably you used your own debit card).

    Paranoia comes with the territory of being a criminal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    10

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    What does a criminal complaint entail exactly?

    From browsing other posts on this forum it seems they have a year to prosecute. If I dont receive anything from them in a year is it pretty safe to say theyre not pursuing it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,559

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    It really depends on your state...some states allow 2 years to prosecute.

    The "It wasn't my ATM card"....sorry, Charlie, it won't work. Then you're admitting to being in possession of a stolen debit card that was never reported as stolen (and don't think you can report it stolen now - smile, you're on camera!).

    What does a Criminal Complaint entail: all evidence they have, like video camera footage of you. Any witnesses like the security guard.

    What would you face?
    - Court costs/fines.
    - Fees for either a lawyer or Public Defender.
    - Civil Demand.
    - Criminal Record that will limit your job options.
    - If you get Probation or Community Service, or Anti-Shoplifting Class, you pay for these too.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    10

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    so...they can in fact use the debit card purchase to track me... is that common? and if that is the case, then what? should i be expecting a phone call? a letter? What will most likely happen?

    Also im fully aware im probably going to get a reply like "theres no way we can tell you whether they're going to get that information from the card and use it against you or not"

    but I dont really need to be told that because i obviously already know that. I just need to know if in your experience, this method is used frequently to deal with cases like this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
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    6,559

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    Your ATM/Debit card has your name, address, etc attached to it.

    You can expect either:
    - A letter in the mail with a court date.
    - A visit from the police with handcuffs.
    - Neither.
    (yes, you know we are not psychic)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    10

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    So theres not a chance i could receive a letter from corporate at target asking me to pay a fine? It will automatically go to police then? Or is it possible for them to take that route too?

    Also, if they did decide to just go at my throat right away, what's probably the minimum amount of time it might take for me to get some kind of notification?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    North East
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    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    Don't sweat it, if loss prevention was going to file charges they wouldn't have let you pay for the merchandise and set you on your way. Just stay away from that store and I can almost guarantee that you won't receive anything in the mail. Now go and get a good nights sleep.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    Thanks. Of course I don't want to be lulled into a false sense of security since there is still a very real threat. But at the same time, the guy basically admitted "I've seen footage of you stealing electronics," and then still let me pay and go on my way with no word in regards to the electronics. I feel like he would have probably made me sign some stuff or taken me into his office or called the police if he had really wanted to get me. But still the fact that he seems to have known about the other stolen goods really bugs me.

    People kep bringing up the fact in the threads where people did end up getting away, that if they have a license plate or a credit card number or anything like that, they can fully prosecute if they want for a full year or maybe two. But it seems like in every case where they got away and had their credit info given and their license plates taken, it was because they had in fact gotten away and were never stopped by anyone, either that or they were stopped, and then ran away. I had clearly gotten away with a crime before, but the second time I was caught and rather than apprehending me, he allowed me to purchase the goods and let me leave and said nothing more about it.

    While I realize that they are still within their right to do something about it or take legal action, at the same time, I mean he definitely had the right to do something about it right there, and didn't. If he was going to do anything about it i figure he would have probably done it right then and there like most of the security guards or LP's or whatever do in the threads made on this site. Don't see why he'd let me walk out and then try to have police detain me later.

    But I guess only time will tell. This post has basically just been me trying to justify it to myself. I hope nothing else comes of this, because I know I have DEFINITELY learned my lesson and after hearing about people having to go in a theft database for stealing a thing of chapstick, I know I will never EVER steal ANYTHING again.

  10. #10
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    North East
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    Default Re: Got Caught Stealing, But Allowed to Pay

    Quote Quoting mangloss
    View Post
    So theres not a chance i could receive a letter from corporate at target asking me to pay a fine? It will automatically go to police then? Or is it possible for them to take that route too?

    Also, if they did decide to just go at my throat right away, what's probably the minimum amount of time it might take for me to get some kind of notification?
    The only notification you would get is a letter in the mail telling you a court date, don't sweat it thou because it's not going to happen. They let you pay for your stuff and leave. When they want to build a case against you they need to have you arrested and photograph the stuff you stole to enter into evidence against you. Now if a letter were to arrive in the mail you could go to court and tell the judge that you don't know what the crazy security guard is talking about, you paid for you merchandise and left the store. If you receive a letter in the mail post it in this thread and I'll PayPal you $100 towards your fine, how's that?

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