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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    10

    Default Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting at a Department Store

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: NEW JERSEY

    Early this year I was accused of shoplifting in a Century 21 Department Store and was brought to an LP office where I was told if I didnt sign the paperwork, the cops would be called. I had ripped a tag off a pair of shoes and put in in the box with another pair and brought it up to the register. My reasoning for this was because it was the same pair of shoes, both different prices. I probably should have brought the other pair up, but instead just took the tag. When I got to the register I was approached by the stores LP and accused of trying to steal. I didnt have time to ask the cashier why there was a difference in price before I was approached. I did not try switching any tags, I did not pay for the merchandise and I did not walk out the door with anything. therefore showing no intent. I honestly did not plan on doing anything wrong. I was detained against my will when I tried to leave and the LP put his hands on me and locked the doors, and also threatened to have the cops called on me.

    I hesitated at the moment because I starting thinking maybe I did do something wrong and didnt want anything going on my record (which is clean). I was brought up to an office where I was told that I would sign some paperwork and be on my way. I was told that the only stipulation of the paperwork was that I wasn't allowed in the store for another 7 years and that Century 21 has the right to sue me if they wanted to (but was assured this never happens). I was also told that the information stayed in the store only and was assured no one had access to it except Century 21. I was made to feel like a was a criminal, I even thought I actually did do what he said I did until I left and had a chance to think about eveything that had just happened.

    A few months later I recieved a letter from the company's lawyers asking a civil demand of 5x the amount of the "discount" that I was accused of trying to get. I paid the fine because I did not want any complications and wanted to forget about any of this happening. I was willing to pay for the stupid "mistake" just to have peace of mind. Recently, I have applied for some work and have been denied due to me being listed on the National Theft Database. First off, I honestly had no intent on stealing anything from Century 21, I did not know that ripping a tag off of merchandise and bringing it to the register was considered shoplifting.

    I am 24 years old with a clean record, and a student with a 3.7 gpa. I am also getting married next December and am finding it impossible to find work now to pay for my debts. This incident is beginning to ruin my life. I am an honest student and am finding it terribly troubling that I am listed in this database and wont be able to find a job to pay my debts, school or wedding. I need to know if there is anything i can do to get my name removed. I feel like I was wrongly accused by the LP at the store. I know I signed the paperwork, but I was in a rush to get to a Mid Term and I also was being threatened if I did not, the cops would be called. I have never been in trouble in my entire life and really do not understand why this would happen to me. I should have let them call the cops

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    9,096

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting

    First, let me put your mind at ease. By ripping off the tag of one product and attempting to use it to buy another, you did, indeed, shoplift.

    Second, you signed a paper admitting guilt. That door has closed. If you were innocent, you should have waited for the police.

    Third, the National Theft Database is a private database and has it's own rules. In over a decade of working with it, I have never known anyone to be removed from it by their request... save if the information on that database was in error (someone stole a license and used that info, for instance).

    Not knowing you were committing a crime is not a defense.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting

    i didnt intend to switch tags..i didnt switch tags..i was going to ask why the price difference...i didnt have a chance to cause i was bumrushed by security...plus i didnt pay for anything or walk out the door with it, so how is it a crime? my understanding for shoplifting is you have to have intent on stealing the product correct? how could their be intent if i didnt even have a chance to do anything..they are supposed to wait until i do the wrong thing to approach me

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    9,096

    Default Re: Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting

    Quote Quoting cammo
    View Post
    i didnt intend to switch tags..i didnt switch tags..i was going to ask why the price difference...i didnt have a chance to cause i was bumrushed by security...
    Your word against theirs.

    plus i didnt pay for anything or walk out the door with it, so how is it a crime?
    The act of removing tags is enough.

    Luckily, you confessed.

    my understanding for shoplifting is you have to have intent on stealing the product correct?
    Nope.

    Changing the tags - known as committing retail fraud - is enough.

    how could their be intent if i didnt even have a chance to do anything..they are supposed to wait until i do the wrong thing to approach me
    The moment you removed the tag you committed the act.

    Did I mention that you confessed?

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