Written by Chelsea Barry July 21, 2016.
There is a common misconception that shoplifting is a seemingly harmless offense.
That shoplifting is a crime only committed by teenagers and does not cause real harm to the business being stolen from. The reality is that shoplifting is a very real, and very costly problem for retailers across the nation.
With increasing losses, state legislatures implement laws to compensate the retailers for the expenses needed to apprehend the shoplifter and protect their business. The expenses include the time, money, and effort that goes into catching and pursuing shoplifting cases.
These cases are referred to as civil recovery and are based on tort law. In a civil recovery case the shoplifter is held liable for a civil penalty that one must pay back to the retailer. Penalties vary depending on the state, for example in the state of New York the penalty can be no less than $50 and no more than $500.
Shoplifters are penalized by the statue of the state in which the crime was committed. In most states conviction is not necessary in order to demand civil penalty. If unpaid, the retailer has the legal right to pursue this case in civil court. Even when a civil penalty is paid, it does not replace or clear potential criminal charges one may face.
Retailers have the benefit of choosing whether or not to abide by the maximum of each state statue or deciding on a lesser penalty. From a service providers point of view, choosing a lesser amount is generally more beneficial for the retailer. Demanding a lesser monetary penalty often increases the likelihood of receiving the full penalty and decreases the amount of time it takes to recover the desired amount. This also benefits the retailer from a public relations point of view, where the retailer is seen as been legally and ethically fair in how it handles shoplifters.
Understanding the legality behind civil recovery is important when educating oneself. By further educating yourself as a consumer and a retailer you can have a better idea of why civil recovery is important and necessary in combating shoplifting.