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  1. #1

    Default Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Virginia

    I have previously shoplifted at Target many times. The most recent time, I picked up several items and concealed them. However, after I noticed a Target employee following me around, I dumped the items and left the store. I got into my car (another stupid move - license plate). He had followed me out the store but didn't approach me. He saw me get into the car and let me get away.

    Since I didn't steal anything that time (but had enough to suspect me and follow me around), CAN they review security tapes looking for other instances and prosecute me for that?

    I am SO scared and all of this worry and the thought of damaging my future isn't worth those stupid DVDs. I'm so nervous they're going to show up at my door and I know they have a year to charge me.

    Again, I frequented this store many times and I have stolen from there a lot - clothing, DVDs, cosmetics. If they see me pick up the item, but don't actually have tapes of me putting the items in my purse, can/might they do anything? What are the laws regarding concealment/intent in Virginia? I have gone through pages in this forum (literally I'm at page 67). I'm not asking for psychic answers...I just need some insight, please.

    Also, if they have my license plate, or go through tapes to check previous times when I legitimately purchased items with a debit card (or returned items with ID), I assume the police have the capabilities of coming to my house for a search and seizure...which I am terrified for. And if they do find certain items, isn't it possible that I acquired these items from somewhere else? (I know it's a stretch but just saying)

    I'm not a bad person. I have made some incredibly bad and stupid mistakes, and I would appreciate some insight. I am scared to death, which will certainly keep me from stealing EVER from ANYWHERE again. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    Since I didn't steal anything that time (but had enough to suspect me and follow me around), CAN they review security tapes looking for other instances and prosecute me for that?
    Absolutely, they can. And they have up to a year to prosecute you.

    Whether or not they will is anybody's guess.

    Do yourself a favor. Stay out of Target, and stop shoplifting.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    249

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    [QUOTE=verybadmistake;385267]My question involves criminal law for the state of: Virginia

    Since I didn't steal anything that time (but had enough to suspect me and follow me around), CAN they review security tapes looking for other instances and prosecute me for that?
    Sure they can. But think about it. What you're suggesting is incredibly labor intensive. It isn't like they can enter your license number into their computer and pull up all the instances where you came into the store.

    Is it possible they have some sort of facial recognition software where they could match your face on the camera to other instances where you came into the store? It's possible, but that's some pretty sophisticated software to be using to catch shoplifters. Not saying it's impossible. Just unlikely.

    If they have your name, I suppose they could try to match it to debit/credit card purchases that you've made in the store, and then review the tapes for those dates. Still, I think that's a lot of work to catch someone who they only suspected of attempted shoplifting of small items.

    I can't rule out that they'll review the security tapes and try to get you that way. I just don't think it's a very likely scenario. If they had caught you trying to steal a stereo or a computer, maybe. But for DVDs and bubble gum, I doubt it.

    If they see me pick up the item, but don't actually have tapes of me putting the items in my purse, can/might they do anything?
    That would depend on why they don't have tape of you putting the items in your purse. Did you take them into a changing room and put them into your purse? If so, an inference might arise that you secreted the items in the changing room, and yes, they can/might do something.

    Not that that's a rock solid case, of course. You might claim in this instance that you left the items in the changing room. Unless they can link the specific items on tape to a specific inventory loss, it could be very difficult to prove otherwise.

    What are the laws regarding concealment/intent in Virginia?
    I can't speak specifically to Virginia. But the common law definition of "larceny" is "the taking and carrying away of the goods of another with the intent to steal." The definition of shoplifting in Virginia probably looks something like this. I.e., whatever words they use, there probably has to be a taking of chattels, and there has to be a specific intent to steal.

    Clearly, if you've secreted goods in your purse, and walked out of the store with them, there's enough evidence to believe that you took the goods with the intent to steal them. If you're a senile old lady, you might be able to claim that you put the goods in your purse intending to pay for them, but that you forgot to when you walked out--and therefore didn't have the intent to steal.

    For most people, if you've concealed goods in the store, that still probably doesn't show enough to show an attempt. That's why employees won't stop you until you actually try to walk out of the store with concealed goods. If you've tried to walk out of the store with concealed goods, then there's enough evidence to get you for attempt.

    This might be very good for you. In your case, because you dumped the goods before trying to carry them out of the store, there might not be sufficient evidence to show an attempt. Therefore, unless they do go back and review the tapes, the police probably won't come knocking.

    Also, if they have my license plate, or go through tapes to check previous times when I legitimately purchased items with a debit card (or returned items with ID), I assume the police have the capabilities of coming to my house for a search and seizure...which I am terrified for. And if they do find certain items, isn't it possible that I acquired these items from somewhere else? (I know it's a stretch but just saying)
    Remember: in order to go back through the security tapes, they have to have identified you. In order to do that, they either have to have gotten your license plate (moderately likely) or they have to have facial matching software (I doubt it). But beyond that, they have to be really committed to the labor intensive task of catching a low level shoplifter.

    If they go back through the security tapes, in order to get the police to get a search warrant, they'd have to identify specific goods that you stole. I.e., you'd have to be able to read the box cover of the DVDs. You'd have to be able to tell it was a blue dress and not a green dress--and you'd probably have to be able to identify at least the style of the dress.

    That being said, is it possible the police will come to your house with a search warrant? Sure. Is it likely? In my opinion, no. If they do come to your house, is it possible to claim you got the goods from somewhere else? Sure. But really, if they've actually gone to the effort to identify specific stolen goods (for DVDs and bubble gum!), and cobble together a search warrant for them, your claim isn't likely to be believed.

    I'm not a bad person. I have made some incredibly bad and stupid mistakes, and I would appreciate some insight. I am scared to death, which will certainly keep me from stealing EVER from ANYWHERE again. Thank you.
    It's good that you're scared. Feel that fear and learn from it. That being said--two points rehashing previous poster:

    1) Don't shoplift anymore.

    2) Don't go back to Target.

    3) If the police DO come to your house, exercise your 5th Amendment right, and exercise your right to counsel. The case against you might not be as strong as you think, and there's no sense in making it worse by giving the state a free confession.

    The most likely scenario is that your mug is on the wall in Target, and employees are supposed to notify the manager if they see you come in. You might be banned from the store, or, if you show up, they might stop you and have the police come by to see if you'll break down and confess.

    [QUOTE=verybadmistake;385267]My question involves criminal law for the state of: Virginia

    Since I didn't steal anything that time (but had enough to suspect me and follow me around), CAN they review security tapes looking for other instances and prosecute me for that?
    Sure they can. But think about it. What you're suggesting is incredibly labor intensive. It isn't like they can enter your license number into their computer and pull up all the instances where you came into the store.

    Is it possible they have some sort of facial recognition software where they could match your face on the camera to other instances where you came into the store? It's possible, but that's some pretty sophisticated software to be using to catch shoplifters. Not saying it's impossible. Just unlikely.

    If they have your name, I suppose they could try to match it to debit/credit card purchases that you've made in the store, and then review the tapes for those dates. Still, I think that's a lot of work to catch someone who they only suspected of attempted shoplifting of small items.

    I can't rule out that they'll review the security tapes and try to get you that way. I just don't think it's a very likely scenario. If they had caught you trying to steal a stereo or a computer, maybe. But for DVDs and bubble gum, I doubt it.

    If they see me pick up the item, but don't actually have tapes of me putting the items in my purse, can/might they do anything?
    That would depend on why they don't have tape of you putting the items in your purse. Did you take them into a changing room and put them into your purse? If so, an inference might arise that you secreted the items in the changing room, and yes, they can/might do something.

    Not that that's a rock solid case, of course. You might claim in this instance that you left the items in the changing room. Unless they can link the specific items on tape to a specific inventory loss, it could be very difficult to prove otherwise.

    What are the laws regarding concealment/intent in Virginia?
    I can't speak specifically to Virginia. But the common law definition of "larceny" is "the taking and carrying away of the goods of another with the intent to steal." The definition of shoplifting in Virginia probably looks something like this. I.e., whatever words they use, there probably has to be a taking of chattels, and there has to be a specific intent to steal.

    Clearly, if you've secreted goods in your purse, and walked out of the store with them, there's enough evidence to believe that you took the goods with the intent to steal them. If you're a senile old lady, you might be able to claim that you put the goods in your purse intending to pay for them, but that you forgot to when you walked out--and therefore didn't have the intent to steal.

    For most people, if you've concealed goods in the store, that still probably doesn't show enough to show an attempt. That's why employees won't stop you until you actually try to walk out of the store with concealed goods. If you've tried to walk out of the store with concealed goods, then there's enough evidence to get you for attempt.

    This might be very good for you. In your case, because you dumped the goods before trying to carry them out of the store, there might not be sufficient evidence to show an attempt. Therefore, unless they do go back and review the tapes, the police probably won't come knocking.

    Also, if they have my license plate, or go through tapes to check previous times when I legitimately purchased items with a debit card (or returned items with ID), I assume the police have the capabilities of coming to my house for a search and seizure...which I am terrified for. And if they do find certain items, isn't it possible that I acquired these items from somewhere else? (I know it's a stretch but just saying)
    Remember: in order to go back through the security tapes, they have to have identified you. In order to do that, they either have to have gotten your license plate (moderately likely) or they have to have facial matching software (I doubt it). But beyond that, they have to be really committed to the labor intensive task of catching a low level shoplifter.

    If they go back through the security tapes, in order to get the police to get a search warrant, they'd have to identify specific goods that you stole. I.e., you'd have to be able to read the box cover of the DVDs. You'd have to be able to tell it was a blue dress and not a green dress--and you'd probably have to be able to identify at least the style of the dress.

    That being said, is it possible the police will come to your house with a search warrant? Sure. Is it likely? In my opinion, no. If they do come to your house, is it possible to claim you got the goods from somewhere else? Sure. But really, if they've actually gone to the effort to identify specific stolen goods (for DVDs and bubble gum!), and cobble together a search warrant for them, your claim isn't likely to be believed.

    I'm not a bad person. I have made some incredibly bad and stupid mistakes, and I would appreciate some insight. I am scared to death, which will certainly keep me from stealing EVER from ANYWHERE again. Thank you.
    It's good that you're scared. Feel that fear and learn from it. That being said--two points rehashing previous poster:

    1) Don't shoplift anymore.

    2) Don't go back to Target.

    3) If the police DO come to your house, exercise your 5th Amendment right, and exercise your right to counsel. The case against you might not be as strong as you think, and there's no sense in making it worse by giving the state a free confession.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    I hope you are scared enough to never shoplift again from anywhere.

    But just in case you ever think about it again: Note that Virginia is VERY tough on shoplifters. One $20 DVD can end up costing you over $2000, in Civil Demand, Court Costs and fees, and a lawyer. It will affect your ability to get a job that involves handling money or credit cards. It will show up on Criminal Background Checks. You will have a mugshot and fingerprints on file.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    Thank you very much for all the information. Although I know each case is handled differently, I have a better idea of what might happen. I appreciate you taking the time to review and answer my questions.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    I have been living on the edge for the past two weeks. I just got home from class and right when I was walking through my front door, a sheriff's office cruiser pulled into my community parking lot. He didn't park in front of my home, but on the other side of the lot. I was already inside, but when I looked through the window, I saw him glance at my door. I left the house and went to the bank to deposit a check. When I came back (about ten minutes later I guess), he had left. I'm SO scared they did track me down, but I don't know why he wouldn't have stopped me since he saw my car AND he saw me. Are they getting a search and seizure warrant? Do they send out officers to "scout"? I'm SO scared - I'm about to graduate college! What was I thinking?! If they come to the door with a warrant, of course I'll let them in, but I plan to exercise my right to counsel and plead the fifth. Is there anything else I can do?! What *might* be happening right now?

    Maybe he was here for someone else in my townhome community but I don't know.

    Is there a way to find out by calling the office anonymously to see if there is a pending investigation? I'm sitting at home now waiting for a knock at the door...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,096

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    First, there is no such thing as an anonymous call. They may not release the information to anyone else or write it down, but they know the number you are calling from.

    Second... We can't tell you why the police are in your neighborhood. Could be they were after you. Could be you have a hot neighbor.

    Dunno.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    249

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    Quote Quoting verybadmistake
    View Post
    I have been living on the edge for the past two weeks. I just got home from class and right when I was walking through my front door, a sheriff's office cruiser pulled into my community parking lot. He didn't park in front of my home, but on the other side of the lot. I was already inside, but when I looked through the window, I saw him glance at my door. I left the house and went to the bank to deposit a check. When I came back (about ten minutes later I guess), he had left. I'm SO scared they did track me down, but I don't know why he wouldn't have stopped me since he saw my car AND he saw me. Are they getting a search and seizure warrant? Do they send out officers to "scout"? I'm SO scared - I'm about to graduate college! What was I thinking?! If they come to the door with a warrant, of course I'll let them in, but I plan to exercise my right to counsel and plead the fifth. Is there anything else I can do?! What *might* be happening right now?

    Maybe he was here for someone else in my townhome community but I don't know.

    Is there a way to find out by calling the office anonymously to see if there is a pending investigation? I'm sitting at home now waiting for a knock at the door...
    He could have been there to serve papers on someone for some reason. He could have been there for any number of reasons unrelated to investigating you.

    You can't find out if there's a pending investigation, anonymously or otherwise.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,096

    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    Quote Quoting Baz744
    View Post
    He could have been there to serve papers on someone for some reason. He could have been there for any number of reasons unrelated to investigating you.

    You can't find out if there's a pending investigation, anonymously or otherwise.
    Don't forget the possibility of a hot neighbor.

    Cops always get the hot neighbors.

  10. #10
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    Michigan
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    Default Re: Suspected of Shoplifted; Previously Shoplifted but Never Apprehended

    Or....just a drive through the sub. Report of suspicsious activity in the neighborhood.

    Now you are probably acting weird if police drive by, and the police officer(s) are wondering "Why is this guy so jumpy? Doing/Dealing drugs? Warrant out for his arrest?...." Let's run the address and see....

    I hope you have learned your lesson. Think of your posts here anytime you even think of shoplifting again.....

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