Can a Texas Store Ever Legally Detain You to Check Your Bags & Receipt?
I do despise the way self-checkout stands have overrun grocery stores, and it's certainly lead to an uptick in receipt checking. But what happens if you are stopped by a store employee at Walmart in Dallas, TX? or a Target in Houston, TX? Can they legally detain you?
So, of course, I'm all about giving customers the option to self-checkout. I'm a big fan when I've only got a few items, but it's gotten out of hand. They now seem to be hiring receipt-peeping babysitters who rarely look up from their smart phones, why not just check us out? I'm about to stop self-returning my grocery cart, and not feel bad about it.
Last week I stopped by Walmart on my way home from work. It's a store I frequent and is now probably about 95% of time only self-checkout. After I shopped, checked out, this time though, when I went toward the exit, this wild dude asked to see my bags and receipt.
Sure, I was offended. ME? I'm not stealing anything. But I didn't make a big deal, showed my stuff, he cleared me, and I continued on my way.
But that got me thinking, is it even legal for a Walmart employee to stop someone they think is shoplifting in Texas? Can any store legally detain you?
From The Clark Law Firm, here's what you should know:
There is a legal concept in place called “Shopkeeper's Privilege” that allows store owners and security guards to search and detain individuals. However, the shopkeeper and their agents have legal responsibility to ensure that their suspicions are reasonable, or else they may be liable for false imprisonment.
This Shopkeepers Privilege "allows store employees to briefly detain suspected shoplifters for questioning or to await the arrival of law enforcement." Pretty vague, right?
If you'd like to learn more about your rights, the store and police response to shoplifting you can read more about that here. But of course the best defense against being stopped for shoplifting will always be to stop shoplifting.