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Shoplifter Detention

7.10.2017

Would you believe that, in Pennsylvania, store employees may, without risking criminal or civil liability, reasonably detain customers if they have probable cause to suspect that the customer has committed or will commit retail theft?

The viral video below depicts loss-prevention employees at a Washington state WinCo store detaining a 15-year-old girl who was later charged with second-degree robbery for stealing a candy bar. The girl, screaming, admits to stealing and skins her knee. Angry customers yell at the employees. The person recording, who claims to be an attorney, insists that the employees are acting illegally.

Would you believe that, in Pennsylvania, store employees may, without risking criminal or civil liability, reasonably detain customers if they have probable cause to suspect that the customer has committed or will commit retail theft? See 18 Pa. C.S. § 3929(d).

Do you think the employees' detention was reasonable? The Vancouver Police seem to think so. According to their statement, no witnesses were able to describe assaultive behavior on the part of the employees, and the video shows the suspect continuing to resist.

My company regularly handles retail theft matters. If you have been charged, or if you are a store owner with questions concerning your legal rights, contact me for a free consultation.

Ryan D. Very, Esq.

Ryan D. Very, Esq.

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Like his grandfather who practiced law before him, Ryan Very is a zealous Pittsburgh trial attorney who works tirelessly to assert his clients’ rights and promote justice.

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