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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    Default Question(s) about getting searched in stores

    I was watching the tv show BULL, and the ep. started w. two teenagers going into a high end clothing store. They pass a security guard as they do.
    Inside, they shoplift some stuff, and when they get back outside the guard blocks their way and says he needs to look in their purses.

    Now, my questions are:

    1. Would it be legal for a store’s guard to do that once a customer is back out on the street?

    2. By going into a store are you consenting to be searched, or physically detained if you refuse to be searched until police arrive?

  2. #2
    Mighty Member LordMikel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riv86672 View Post
    I was watching the tv show BULL, and the ep. started w. two teenagers going into a high end clothing store. They pass a security guard as they do.
    Inside, they shoplift some stuff, and when they get back outside the guard blocks their way and says he needs to look in their purses.

    Now, my questions are:

    1. Would it be legal for a store’s guard to do that once a customer is back out on the street?

    2. By going into a store are you consenting to be searched, or physically detained if you refuse to be searched until police arrive?
    1) Yes, for shoplifting to be considered actually shoplifting, the person must leave the store. So it would make sense for them to be detained after they left the store.

    2) I think this question is slightly biased and phrased badly. Since the store in question was high end merchandise, they probably have cameras and a professional security. So I'm not sure all of the legality of security having witnessed shoplifting, what are the protocols for detaining a customer.
    I think restorative nostalgia is the number one issue with comic book fans.
    A fine distinction between two types of Nostalgia:

    Reflective Nostalgia allows us to savor our memories but accepts that they are in the past
    Restorative Nostalgia pushes back against the here and now, keeping us stuck trying to relive our glory days.

  3. #3
    Mighty Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    I don’t doubt my second question was badly phrased, I haven’t slept in a while!

    Okay so, the store personnel don’t know for sure you’ve taken anything, you haven’t been caught on camera or anything.
    They just approach you and tell you to empty your pockets/purse.
    Can they do that and do you have to comply, legally?
    If you don’t comply can they legally physically detain you?

    I had a lot of brushes w. the law growing up in NYC, but oddly, never this particular one, so I was just curious.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member TriggerWarning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordMikel View Post
    1) Yes, for shoplifting to be considered actually shoplifting, the person must leave the store. So it would make sense for them to be detained after they left the store.
    My state has a crime called Willful Concealment which is basically hiding items that your obviously trying to steal on your person or belongings. So you can in fact be charged with it while still in the store.

    Also the definition of burglary in my state and many others is entering a residence or business with the intent to commit a theft or felony. So if someone is shoplifting in the store and you stop them before they leave the burglary charge might apply if you can show the intent. Often the person admits they came to the store to shoplift which shows the intent right there. Or the person has no means to pay which shows they had intent to shoplift. Or like one case of serial shoplifters in my town who got busted as they had a whole shopping list and numerous receipts. What they would do hunt receipts in the parking lot and garbage cans and then go shoplift those same items from the store and then do fraudulent returns of those items. Obvious intent if you can show it.

  5. #5
    Incredible Member TriggerWarning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riv86672 View Post
    I was watching the tv show BULL, and the ep. started w. two teenagers going into a high end clothing store. They pass a security guard as they do.
    Inside, they shoplift some stuff, and when they get back outside the guard blocks their way and says he needs to look in their purses.

    Now, my questions are:

    1. Would it be legal for a store’s guard to do that once a customer is back out on the street?

    2. By going into a store are you consenting to be searched, or physically detained if you refuse to be searched until police arrive?
    1. The security guard can demand and order whatever he wants. If you comply then so be it. If you don't then there isn't a crime in most places as he has no legal authority. Likewise though there are no constitutional protections for the shoplifters either if the guard does an "illegal" search as the laws governing searches apply to agents of the government, aka cops, not private citizens which a security guard is. Most places have a no touch policy though for employees meaning the guard wouldn't grab.

    2. No but it doesn't look good on you. Few are going to have sympathy for the thieves if in fact they did steal. So if you keep going and the cops do catch up to you expect a harsher punishment than if you had just complied.

  6. #6
    Mighty Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great/informative responses, guys!

  7. #7
    Incredible Member TriggerWarning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riv86672 View Post
    Thanks for the great/informative responses, guys!
    LOL, did you ask this same question on reddit because I just saw the exact same question more or less pop up there on the police sub.
    Last edited by TriggerWarning; 03-17-2020 at 04:23 PM.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TriggerWarning View Post
    LOL, did you ask this same question on reddit because I just saw the exact same question more or less pop up there.
    No I’ve never posted on Reddit!
    I also asked at Hero Chat, but that’s a small board w. a small bunch of us who have been together forever. CBR is a new site for me, w. new opinions, which is cool.

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