Retail theft is common in Illinois because it’s relatively easy to pull off. Considering a shoplifter abides by no rules except for doing anything to get away, it’s the store’s job to spot thieves disguised as shoppers.
However, the loss prevention personnel can’t just stop you without following a procedure. According to criminal defense attorneys in Jacksonville, IL, many accused shoplifters win an acquittal because store employees fail to comply with the rules of apprehension. To give you an idea how it should be done, here's some advice:
Employees Must See You Take the Item from the Store
No loss prevention personnel should assume that any merchandise you carry comes from the store. It’s highly likely for someone to buy clothes from a different boutique, take them out of the shopping bag, and bring them to another store with their price tags still on.
Unless the employee sees you personally select the item from that store’s rack, loss prevention should never stop you from leaving whatsoever.
Employees Must See You Hide the Item
Store employees must visibly witness you conceal the merchandise. This act is a shoplifting trigger. To prove this, however, loss prevention should be able to describe specifically how you hid the item. Did you put it in your bag or pockets, or take its price tag and wear it?
They should not charge you of shoplifting out of a guess or gut feeling. If the store employee can’t detail how you did the act of shoplifting, then there’s no reason to believe you did it.
Employees Must Observe You Continuously
Once loss prevention personnel found a reason to consider you a shoplifter, they must continue to observe your actions discreetly. Acting immediately would be premature, and may even be taken against them.
Employees Must Watch You Leave without Paying
The only moment they could act is when you pass the point of sale (cashiers) without paying for the merchandise. Concealed or not, they must wait for you to leave the store before they question you about the unpaid item.
Despite these rules, many loss prevention personnel choose to make judgment calls to stop alleged shoplifters. While you can’t prevent them from assuming you’re a thief, you could use their hasty decision-making against them to prove your innocence.