Your rights when you are suspected of shoplifting are important to know and looking at the advisory note from the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman and the protocol for dealing with suspected shoplifters, your rights include:
- The security employee must actually witness you shoplifting or concealing items and maintain continuous observation of you until confronting you or have a reasonable belief that you shoplifted, concealed items or took an item from the premises not paid for.
- The security employee must approach you discretely and ask for proof that the item was paid for.
- If you can provide satisfactory proof of payment, the security employee must thank you and let you leave.
- The security employee must treat you with dignity and respect and must not accuse you of theft or treat you if you are guilty of theft.
- If you refuse to cooperate, the security employee can warn you that he will make a citizen’s arrest.
- The security employee must place you under arrest verbally and inform you of the reason for the arrest.
- The security employee is not allowed to touch, hold, or handcuff you or use force to restrain or prevent you from escaping, unless it is necessary to do so and even then only use such force as is reasonably necessary to restrain you. The store must call the police immediately and hand you over to them for further investigation and action.
- If you cooperate and there is no need to arrest you, the security employee must take you to the manager’s office.
- In the manager’s office, they can ask you to hand over any goods that the security employee has reasonable grounds for believing was shoplifted or concealed.
- The store manager can ask for you to be searched in accordance with your fundamental Constitutional rights, especially dignity and privacy. You must be searched by a person of the same gender.
- As soon as you are placed under arrest, you must be informed promptly of your right to remain silent, the consequences of not remaining silent and you cannot be compelled to make any confession or admission that could be used in evidence against you.
- Where possible, you must get the opportunity to provide proof of purchase or another explanation before a decision is made to arrest you and hand you over to the police.
- The store must have proof beyond reasonable doubt that you intended to avoid paying for an item.
- Security staff must take special care when dealing with the elderly, juveniles and persons possibly suffering from a mental incapacity or health problem such as diabetes.
ALSO READ: please link the other story about shoplifting here