Avoid Theft Charges: Check Your Cart and Check It Twice

It’s probably not surprising to learn theft and shoplifting charges spike during the holiday season. And while no doubt some of these charges happen because some people are in financial distress while feeling socially pressured to come up with gifts, we happen to know of another.

Sheer chaos.

You see, in the middle of the hectic holiday season it’s easy to forget you have an item in your cart, or to fail to scan it at the self-checkout line. When this happens you could easily be accused of attempting to shoplift, even if you paid for every other item and had no intention of doing so.

What if you are accused? What should you do?

First: don’t sign anything. Don’t try to explain yourself. If you have a receipt, show it.

Second, you’re not required to give any personal information to any store employee. They might try to take you aside into a small room, but you’re not even required to go in there. Don’t pay attention to any so-called evidence the store employees may have to say that you stole from them. They lie to try to extract false confessions just like police officers do.

If possible, stop and call a lawyer on the spot. This will be extremely useful should police show up.

If the police show up, don’t talk to them either. You have the right to remain silent, so use it!

Keep in mind even if the store employees can’t prove you shoplifted they can ban you from their store. Even if you’re innocent. If you go back to that store you could be charged with trespassing. Don’t think they won’t ever realize you’re back because they see thousands of people every day. Many big retail stores are using high-tech facial recognition and other forensic tools to catch shoplifters and trespassers alike.

Of course, by that point you might never want to enter the store again.

While you certainly have rights should store employees detain you for shoplifting, and you definitely have rights if the police do, the best way to avoid trouble is to avoid the problem altogether. So this holiday season, slow down, take a deep breath, and take a second look. You’ll save a lot of time, headaches, and fear. And you’ll save energy you could be spending on having a great holiday season with your family and friends!


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