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  1. #1

    Default Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: New Jersey
    A few days ago I was in a large chain thrift store with my child. She was running around, pulling items off the counter as I was paying. After the transaction was completed, I brought her over into another part of the store to let her play with some larger toys (they are in an open part of the store that is beyond the registers). I gathered my items up and put them in my shopping bag, not realizing that a smaller cosmetics bag had not been paid for. I let her play for about 5 minutes and then grabbed her to leave. I was stopped by 5 store employees, led to a small, open room in full view of the entire store, and interrogated. I admitted that the item was in my shopping bag, but tried to explain that didnt mean to put an unpaid item in my bag...I was simply being careless and not paying attention. They said that 3 managers had seen "what I did" and were waiting for me to do it. What's worse is that when they opened the cosmetics bag up, a scarf that I also intended to buy was inside...my 3 year old had been stuffing things in the bag and again, I wasn't paying attention...there was no intention here to steal anything...seriously just a matter of a mom being preoccupied and not paying enough attention to her surroundings.
    Well, they asked for my ID and I didn't have my license so I gave them my passport. The manager threatened to call the cops because I didn't have my license with me. Every time I tried to explain myself, she told me she was going to call the cops. She took my picture and told me I was banned for life from all branches of the store. She said she was emailing my picture to all the other managers (all up and down the east coast).
    I am a regular at all of the NJ locations. I run a resale business and get a lot of stock. Doesn't matter - I"m sure most people on this site won't believe that I didn't intend to steal the item. Fine, I'm banned, whatever...but I'm particularly scared about what the manager said as she was parading me through the store on the way out. She said she has my name and address and if she feels like it she's going to call DYFS and have my child taken away because I committed a crime with her there. She said she hadn't decided, but she's going to think about it. I'm literally beside myself. I know kids get taken away from their parents all the time for lesser reasons, and that the burden of proof is on me to show that I'm a good mother.
    BTW, the grand total of the items I'm accused of stealing was less than $10.
    I'd really appreciate some advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18,927

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Stay out of the store. You may have inadvertently concealed the merchandise but if you return now you will be ABSOLUTELY GUILTY OF CRIMINAL TRESPASS. How important buying stuff there for retail is completely immaterial. If you wish you can try pressing your case (via the phone or mail but not by showing up in the store) with the management. You have no case against a store employee who RIGHTFULLY had cause to believe you were a thief when they found you with concealed merchandise.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    23,871

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    FYI, yours is the fourth claim I've seen that merchandise was inadvertantly concealed and/or picked up by a small child and put in your belongings this weekend alone. Not saying I do or I don't believe you, but I don't even read the shoplifting forums all that often and if I've seen it that frequently, you can bet that the store manager and local law enforcement have heard it probably a whole lot more. So I agree with the advice above - stay out of the store. Don't bring yourself to the attention of the manager and give her reason to report you for ANYTHING.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,442

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    if the manager does call DYFS, deal with it. All you can do is explain yourself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
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    17,019

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Another reason not to tolerate unruly children in public.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Stay out of the store. Wait 6 months to a year before writing their Corporate Headquarters, attn Loss Prevention, to inquire about being allowed back in. If they grant it, keep the letter in your car or purse in case of problems.

    The kid did it....again....we...and the prosecutors and judges hear it all the time. The best bet is to be in control of the child at all times, and search the cart, under and in the car seat, in the kids hands and clothing, etc before approaching POS.....Stay off the cell phone, don't text....just watch your kid, have the shopping planned out....or get a sitter. I've even seen it here where the kid knew go to for the expensive stuff and stash underneath her....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,442

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Quote Quoting PandorasBox
    View Post
    . I've even seen it here where the kid knew go to for the expensive stuff and stash underneath her....

    What??!?!?! Say it isn't so. They actually trained the kid to steal the good stuff? OMG.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Ya know...things like that $25 packages of steaks that ended up in a babies diaper.....or in his stroller behind him.....
    Where ya wonder how kids could even get the stuff.....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Quote Quoting PandorasBox
    View Post
    Ya know...things like that $25 packages of steaks that ended up in a babies diaper.....or in his stroller behind him.....
    Where ya wonder how kids could even get the stuff.....
    Good taste???

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    NW of KSTL
    Posts
    2,549

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting, Banned from Store, Threatened With Dyfs Call

    Quote Quoting closetscholar
    View Post
    What's worse is that when they opened the cosmetics bag up, a scarf that I also intended to buy was inside....
    Therein, as they say, lies the rub. One item? I'd give it a 0.00050% chance of credibility using the time-honored child-had-me-distracted defense. BUT!!! Another item inside the honest-judge-my-child-had-me-distracted item, pretty much pulls the plug as far as using the distraction defense.

    If you were so distracted that you missed the cosmetic bag, when you admittedly were having to keep track of your child's activity simply due to the fact that there was a lot of it, activity that is, it's pretty much a wash that you would've 'missed' the forgotten scarf being placed into the forgotten cosmetic bag. That's a fair amount of distraction and forgetfulness.

    I would think that owning up to things and not embarking on an endless (Yes, endless! 'Cause one lie has to be used to cover another, and another, and another....etc.) string of deception would be my choice at this point if faced with the same circumstance. ESPECIALLY if facing any sort of DYFS investigation!
    Growing old, mandatory. Growing up, optional!

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