Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unfair Shoplifting Penalties


Back in the day, I had a client stopped for shoplifting in a local store. Although we quickly worked out a reasonable deal with the prosecutors, I was surprised when the store went after him for penalties. In today's WSJ, they have an outstanding storing on the process. The money quote:

  • "In an escalating battle against theft, retailers are going after anyone suspected of shoplifting, turning over their names to lawyers and collection firms, who pursue the suspects for stiff penalties and split the take with the retailer. There is little oversight of a system retailers call "civil recovery," created by special laws passed in all 50 states. With no proof of theft, the retailers demand money -- often $200 but sometimes far more -- and promise to avoid suing if it is paid quickly. Laws vary by state, but in general, retailers can demand these sums even if the item at issue was worth far less and was quickly recovered and put back on the shelf.

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