The other night my 14 year old daughter was stopped at Macy’s for shoplifting, and I have a few questions.
The story I received from my daughter:
The other night I allowed my daughter to spend the night with two other friends, the mother of one of the girls took them to the mall; during my custodial weekend. This mother allowed them to go on their on way and instructed them on where to meet her at 9 pm. Close to 8:15 pm my daughter and her two friends were stopped by the stores LPO and taken to their office for shoplifting. The girls were asked to return the merchandise that they had concealed in their purses while in the fitting room. Around 9 pm this mother called her daughter since she was not at the designated place they were instructed to be at. The LP instructed the girls to not answer their cell phones and to turn them off, even after the girl had told them who it was and that she was probably looking for them. Which no attempt was made by the LP’s to contact any parent. The girls mother became very concerned and upset, not knowing what had happened to the girls. Not knowing what to do; she went to mall security and informed them of the missing three girls. Mall security did an extensive search then started calling the retailers to see if any of them had seen the girls. Finally a call to Macy’s ended the search when Macy’s informed security that they had the girls in the LP office. This was around 11 pm. The LP had called for the police which did finally come to their location. The police never talked with the girls due to the fact that they were dealing with the adult offenders that were also detained for shoplifting, which they were in no connection with the girls. Macy’s gave the girls a letter of civil demand with instructions to pay $325 within 14 days; then released all three girls to the mother. The item that was recovered from my daughter was a $20 t-shirt, that she had placed into her purse after taking the tags off.
My small knowledge of Texas Law:
1. To establish a solid base for probable cause, and prevent false arrest claims, there are six universally accepted steps that a merchant should be follow before detaining someone suspected of shoplifting:
1. You must see the shoplifter approach your merchandise
2. You must see the shoplifter select your merchandise
3. You must see the shoplifter conceal, carry away or convert your merchandise
4. You must maintain continuous observation the shoplifter
5. You must see the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
6. You must approach the shoplifter outside of the store
These six steps were designed to establish a high degree of probable cause for detention and arrest of a person suspected of shoplifting. If one of these steps is skipped, the chance for false arrest increases proportionately.
2. I believe that there is an obligation for the retailer to contact a juvenile’s parents / guardian within the first 60 minutes.
3. A retailer can only release a juvenile to a parent, guardian or the police. Not to a stranger (mother of another child.)
Now for the questions:
1. How could they have seen my daughter conceal the merchandise if she was in a fitting room? Is it not true that it is illegal for cameras in fitting rooms and rest rooms? Doesn’t this constitute an invasion of privacy by stopping her and searching her; since they did not actually see her conceal the item?
2. What are the actual time requirements of parental notice of a detained juvenile?
3. I am a public servant; I can not release a juvenile to anyone but their parent or legal guardian that is under the age of 18 unless I obtain verbal consent from one of the two. Isn’t retailers held to this same statute or not.
4. Do any of these three questions raise a legal violation by Macys?
5. Should I call the corporate office of Macy’s and explain these violations and request the civil demand be reduced or dropped?
I am not saying that what my daughter did was right; she knowingly placed the item into her purse in the attempt to leave the store with it. She will receive her punishment from me for what she has done, since she will not be affected by the civil demand directly. I know that her mother (my ex) will probably not help to pay the civil demand. I will have to pay this on my own; which will not be financially easy.
Any and all advice is welcomed, and Thank you for it.