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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Inland Empire
    Posts
    5

    Default What To Do If You Are Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting

    Just want to say beforehand...Sorry for the long story.....here goes...

    Tonight my brother and I decided to go to Best Buy as I need to purchase an adapter to listen to music off my PDA on my car stereo since I was tired of using fm modulators. Soon after we arrived my brother went to check out cd's as he was looking to purchase a Megadeth cd. I myself went around the audio/video section in search of an adapter. After 20 minutes of searching every single thing they had ot offer I decided to ask someone to help me. they led me into the direction of the car stereo department. By this time it was nearing closing time. They had pallets of merchandise stalked up to display. I had to wedge between two pallets of merchandise as I had spotted what I had needed behind all the pallets. I had in my hand two different adapters that I thought might work and was reading the packaging to compare why one was 60 and the other was only 10 bucks. The $60 one had open packaging with an OPEN BOX ITEM sticker attached to it. I was curious as to whether or not everythign was inside of it so I poked around the packaging to see if everything that was shown on the packing was inside. All of a sudden someone pokes me from behind causing me to jump as I was startled. The employee asks if he can help me. I told him I was just trying to see if everything was inside since it was an open box item. He says okay and that he'd be over near the computer if I need any assitance. I decide that I am going to go with the 10 unit and place the $60 one back on the shelf. By this time it had been about 20 minutes sinc eI'd seen my brother. I walked around the store looking for him. I did not spot him and at this time i was notified by an employee that they were closed and i needed to pay for my purchase. So I walked to the front of the store with the item in hand and stood in line to pay along with the remaining customers. a couple minutes later an employee approaches me and asks "where is the cd you were opening". I raised a brow and questioned him what he was talkigna bout as I had no clue. He then proceeds by tellign me "come on bro I knwo you opened a cd so where is it?" I started getting pissed as I seriously had no idea wtf he was talking about and people around me were looking at me all funny. I started turnign red and at this point I raised my voice and firmly said "I have no idea what you are talking about". The employee gets about an inch from my face and tells me that I need to calm down or else its goign to get ugly and he's goign to call the cops. I am a pretty built guy at 5'10", 225 pounds. The employee was a big fat guy about 6 feet tall weighing around 280-300 pounds. I told him to back off at this point and that he better rethink what he's tellign me. Now he's literally breathing in my face. He calls over the employee that had notified him of me "opening the cd". This employee happens to be the guy that startled me while I was comparing the two adapters. The employee tells him that it wasnt a CD and it was actually an adapter..which he happens to have in his hand. He tells the fat guy that he saw me trying to take the stuff out and put it in my pocket. So they are both in my face now. I feel threatened and have my hand where my lockback knife is clipped on my pant pocket ready to defend myself if need be. The guys both start to tell me "lets take this outside bitch". then one says I get off in 4 minutes. At this time you can believe Im furious. I take the adapter I had in my hand and toss it on the counter and walk out. Which at this point the guys both follow me out and start to cuss me out and tell me to watch my back. We exchange a few words and a crowd gathers. About 20 people are gathered now(employee's and remaining customers). A female employee comes out and grabs the two and tells them to get inside and call the police. I walk to my car where i find my brother waiting for me and as Im driving a guy waves at me and I approach him. he(turns otu to be the manager) informs me that he has called gthe police and if I dont leave immediately he will have the officer charge me with theft and assault. I tell him to back off and explain that I had not doine anything. The fat employee and his sidekick start calling me out and take off their shirts while they are still inside and Im outside talking to the manager. The manager informs them to go to the back. They leave and I turn and leave. I get in my car and drive home enraged over the incident. NOW...... my BROTHER ON THE OTHERHAND... DID BUY the cd that he had OPENED INSIDE. I even showed the manager the receipt and the cd which another employee agreed she had seen my brother PURCHASE THEN OPEN.
    Now....my question........... Is there any law against accusing/searching someone prior to them leaving the store? I was in line at the time with the item in hand in plain view waiting to pay. Does california have a law for concealing items with intent?

    I was wrongfully accused for the wrong item.
    I was checked prior to leaving or being able to pay for what i had in hand.
    i was humiliated and felt shocked over the whole situation.
    the employee's were engaging me in a physical fight while on the clock.

    did Best Buy break any laws in this situation I just mentioned? Were they in the wrong? If i am in the wrong i want to rectify the situation so that i dont feel like im getting dogged everytime i go there as this is the only best buy within 2 hours from me. if they are in the wrong i want to know as i want to avoid ever going back there again and will be contacting a lawyer. How do I get a copy of the surveillance tape? Everything is clearly on there as it was directly in frotn of it near the registers and enterance in case I need it for any legal actions. Thank you for any help you guys can provide.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Inland Empire
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Wrongfully accused of shoplifting....anything I can do?

    Just to make this clear...I am not seeking a monetary outcome. I just need to know if they were being ethical/legal. The law is the law and I want to know. Thanks.

  3. #3
    panther10758 Guest

    Default Re: Wrongfully accused of shoplifting....anything I can do?

    I work in Loss Prevention and I live in So Cal where I assume (by your name) you do as well. You were NOT arrested therefore you were not oficially accussed of theft. You and Best Buy staff both made many mistakes and it is unfair to all parties to make a judgement based soley on your view of what happened. You were NOT arrested so there is no false arrest. Best Buy manager told you to go so you cant blame store! The two people that harrassed you could be fired if you want to tak any action write oetter to Manager or corporate about your experience. You have no legal grounds for anything as you were not arrest or detained. Were one or more of the persons stopping you wearinga yellow shirt? If so they were Loss Prevention staff. Best Buy has a poor and limited LP staff. I would shop elsewhere and let manager know that. I do not work for Best Buy but am familar with their limted LP program. Once again you have no grounds for any legal action best you could do is ask store itself for compensation which would likely be a Best Buy gift card.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Inland Empire
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Wrongfully accused of shoplifting....anything I can do?

    Quote Quoting panther10758
    View Post
    I work in Loss Prevention and I live in So Cal where I assume (by your name) you do as well. You were NOT arrested therefore you were not oficially accussed of theft. You and Best Buy staff both made many mistakes and it is unfair to all parties to make a judgement based soley on your view of what happened. You were NOT arrested so there is no false arrest. Best Buy manager told you to go so you cant blame store! The two people that harrassed you could be fired if you want to tak any action write oetter to Manager or corporate about your experience. You have no legal grounds for anything as you were not arrest or detained. Were one or more of the persons stopping you wearinga yellow shirt? If so they were Loss Prevention staff. Best Buy has a poor and limited LP staff. I would shop elsewhere and let manager know that. I do not work for Best Buy but am familar with their limted LP program. Once again you have no grounds for any legal action best you could do is ask store itself for compensation which would likely be a Best Buy gift card.
    The two guys that accused me were wearing yellow shirts(the only two guys that had yellow), the manager and everyone else had blue shirts. Thank you for the reply Panther. I plan on simply writing a letter to corporate without making further fuss about it at that store. I have spent no less than $30,000 worth of electronics from them this past year alone for my business and home. I guess this just means I wont be going there anymore.

  5. #5
    panther10758 Guest

    Default Re: Wrongfully accused of shoplifting....anything I can do?

    Just so you know by law in California you have no committed theft until you exit store! The yellow shirts were LP and had authority to act either in a preventive manner or arrest you once you exit. The prevention was talking to you about alledged theft before exit! They clearly are not trained well and did not follow state law! Manager realized this and let you go. Only thing they may have got you on was damage to merchandise which you did in fact open to some degree/ Yes write the letter these LP staff need serious talking to.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    S. California
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: What can you do if wrongfully accused of shoplifting?

    I just needed to reply about the comment from panther that a crime has not been committed until you exit the store. That is incorrect. People v. Buonauro 113 Cal.App.3d 688 says that some circumstances (i.e. concealment, removing from packaging) constitutes theft. Many retail stores require LP personell to wait until exiting has occured, but that is not the law in California.

  7. #7
    panther10758 Guest

    Default Re: What can you do if wrongfully accused of shoplifting?

    The first line in my post says "in California" many state shoplifting laws vary in some states concealment alone is a crime however this incident took place in California so my post applies!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    601

    Default Re: What can you do if wrongfully accused of shoplifting?

    Concealment is not a crime - it is evidence

    Read on -

    ...concealment while still on the premises shall be prima facie evidence of intent to commit larceny thereof.
    Now, prima facie is defined as "at first sight" or "on the face of it."

    Prima facie evidence" is evidence that is good and sufficient on its face. A plaintiff makes out a "prima facie case" when he or she presents "prima facie evidence," which means that the plaintiff is permitted to prevail on that evidence alone, unless the defendant can put forth sufficient evidence to overcome it.

    Therefore, yes you can stop someone on concealment, but that in itself is not enough to prove intent, it is merely evidence of intent. If you want an airtight case, they better show intent to deprive the merchant of the merchandise or goods.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    S. California
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: What can you do if wrongfully accused of shoplifting?

    This is a California Ruling:

    People v. Buonauro (1980) 113 Cal.App.3d 688 , 170 Cal.Rptr. 285

    *FN 1. There is also no merit to appellant's suggestion that, because she did not leave the store with the merchandise, she was not guilty of theft. (See People v. Khoury (1980) 108 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1, 3-5 [166 Cal.Rptr. 705]; People v. Thompson, supra, 158 Cal.App.2d 320, 322-323 [166 Cal.Rptr. 705].)
    Yes, concealment is evidence of a theft and should only be used with other evidence. This case shows that the defendant also was seen in an area that customers were not allowed and that upon detention she gave false information.

    I have used this ruling as precedent for several Organized Retail Crime cases in the past. In those cases I not only had concealment, but prior theft incidents, defeating of eas devices, etc. When a subject has been violent in the past or if there are more subjects waiting outside, it is sometimes easier to apprehend inside the store where you have more control of your surroundings.

    So yes, it is stupid to take a shoplift based only on concealment, but it is incorrect to say that a crime has only been committed upon exiting.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    601

    Default Re: What can you do if wrongfully accused of shoplifting?

    Quote Quoting 00SAE
    View Post
    So yes, it is stupid to take a shoplift based only on concealment, but it is incorrect to say that a crime has only been committed upon exiting.

    No, according to the law, concealment is evidence of intent. In order for the crime which we call shoplifting to occur, there must be intent to deprive the establishment of those goods.


    "Shoplift" means any one or more of the following acts committed by a person without the consent of the merchant and with the purpose or intent of appropriating merchandise to that person's own or another's use without payment
    Concealment is evidence of their intent to deprive the merchant. There have been many cases where customers have "concealed" merchandise in shopping bags and purses and paid for the merchandise. In fact, a store stopped and attempted to prosecute a lady for concealing merchandise in her cloth bag which she carried everywhere. She successfully fought it and won a sizeable settlement since there was no intent to deprive the merchandise based on concealment alone.

    Maybe aaron or others can help clear this up and explain what prima facie evidence is. Hopefully my memory serves me correctly and I gave the proper definition in my earlier post. This is an interesting topic because there are many interpretations on concealment.

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