(Can someone sticky this please?)
If you have been caught shoplifting, you are either wondering about
- the mysterious letter you have been told you will be receiving
- the mysterious letter you just received.
What it is:
This letter is called a CIVIL DEMAND (sometimes called Civil Restitution).
(1) This is something the majority of shoplifters receive. Some of you got criminal charges; some did not. This is the Civil part of your crime.
(2) It will arrive by mail. The letter will come from either the store; or the stores law firm.
(3) This is separate from any Criminal Charges.
Pay it vs Don't Pay it:
This is a subject of debate. However, be aware that if you chose to not pay it, or ignore and hope it will disappear....you are gambling.
What can happen: They send Letter #1. You don't pay. They send Letter #2...the amount can double. You still don't pay. They send Letter #3. The amount goes up again. You still don't pay....They can sue you in Civil Court.
What happens if they win? You likely are paying the higher amount. There is a possibility of adding in their legal fees for the Civil case, also.
Is it legal for them to send me this Civil Demand?
Yes. All states have laws regarding the Civil Demand.
How much will the Civil Demand be for?
This varies by state, store, and amount of goods stolen. State laws have a minimum/maximum amount. You can google your states laws. Count on it being more than you stole.
Where does the Civil Demand money go? How can they charge so much?
Shoplifters cost stores a lot of money, including:
- The cost of security systems, CCTV, cameras, etc.
- The cost of employing Loss Prevention workers. The time an LP worker has to spend in court. The time an LP has to spend on apprehending a shoplifter, calling police, filling out paperwork, etc.
- Towards the losses caused by shoplifters who did get away.
- If the items you stole are Unsaleable, towards the loss the store suffered because of your theft.
I can't pay the amount, what do I do?
Your letter likely has a phone number you can call. Most companies will work out a payment plan with you.