Why Shoplifting Suspects SHOULD NOT be Chased Inside the Store
This happened in 2006 in a grocery store located in Virginia. The case went to trial to trial in 2011 where the Jury found for the Plaintiff and awarded her a sizable 6-figure amount of money. The Jury verdict and monetary award was appealed to the Virginia State Supreme Court where the Court denied a hearing on the case, effectively upholding the Jury verdict and award.
The facts of the case are:
- The customer entered the store’s premises to shop.
- The store had no loss prevention officers assigned. Loss Prevention consisted of a “team” that “roamed” the region where attention was given to the “higher shrink” stores.
- A Department Manager, in the back of the store, observed a male put a can of soda and some chicken wings in his coat.
- The Department Manager walked up behind the shoplifter, without the shoplifter noticing and immediately placed his hands on the shoplifter’s shoulders.
- The Department Manager did not say anything other than, “I want my chicken wings back.”
- The shoplifter then slipped out of his jacket and ran down the aisle, leaving the jacket, soda and chicken wings on the aisle floor.
- The Manager gave immediate chase pursuing, close behind, the shoplifter up and down the aisles.
- When the shoplifter was finally headed towards the front exit he ran into and pushed the female against an aisle gondola causing her severe injuries that required multiple surgeries.
- The shoplifter was eventually detained outside the store.
- The shoplifter was charged with theft.
There were several other factors that entered into this case:
- The retailer expected its store management employees to apprehend shoplifters.
- The retailer provided no training to employees, other than Loss Prevention staff, in the detection and apprehension of shoplifters.
- The store had a numerical “code” to be announced over the public address system when a potential shoplifting suspect was detected, but none of the management staff, during deposition, could agree on what that code was, causing further confusion.
Curtis Baillie was the Ad-Hoc Chairman and Co-Author of the IAPSC committee that reviewed, updated and republished the retail security industry Best Practice: "Detention of Shoplifting Suspects by Loss Prevention and Security Personnel" This Best Practice may be purchased through the IAPSC.