Generally speaking, laws grant store security guards some rights to perform various acts towards the prevention of theft and store asset loss. These acts must generally be performed in a reasonable manner and should not violate any of the patron’s basic rights within reason. Store security are typically allowed to perform acts such as:
- Monitor customer’s shopping actions through the use of cameras or “undercover” employees
- Apply reasonable force when preventing a shopper from stealing an object or fleeing from the store with stolen goods
- Detain a customer who has been suspected of shoplifting shortly for questioning and investigation
In order to avoid liability, it is best if the store security has a good amount of probable cause before apprehending the suspected thief. Also, the amount of force used should never be excessive, and should not be applied unless necessary. Most states have “shopkeeper’s privilege” laws that outline what a shopkeeper is allowed to do in order to deter theft and detain suspected shoplifters.
What Are Some Common Legal Issues Associated with Store Security?
Store security legal issues are often the focus of various civil lawsuits. In particular, store security violations may involve conduct such as:
- The use of excessive force when stopping shoplifting attempts
- Detaining a customer for too long or in a way that violates their personal dignity and rights
- Applying unnecessary force or making a detention without proper evidence or probable cause to support the suspicion
In particular, store security and the company that manages them may become liable if a guard causes serious injury to a patron or customer. This can happen in cases where the security personnel:
- Tackles a customer to the ground when doing so was not necessary
- Uses a weapon or device to inflict pain on the customer, especially if the customer is unarmed
- Uses a choke or joint lock to restrain the customer
- Engages in a fistfight with the person
- Teams up with other security guards against only one person when the person could have been easily detained by a single security guard
Thus, store security workers need to exercise restraint and ensure that their actions are reasonable in light of the situation.
What If I Have a Legal Claim Involving Store Security?
If you feel that you have a legal claim involving store security, it is best to compile any evidence or records that you feel might help your case. You can create a log outlining the details of any incidents. Be sure to include dates, locations, names of relevant people, and descriptions of any use of physical force or detention. Video footage or photos from bystanders can also help. In most cases, a damages award may be issued for losses or expenses due to injuries caused by store security.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Store Security Lawsuits?
Store security issues can involve a number of complex laws and legal concepts. It may be in your best interest to hire a personal injury lawyer near you if you have been injured or had your rights violated due to store security workers. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice on how to proceed, and can also represent you in court. If you need to file a lawsuit, your lawyer can perform legal research in order to provide support and legal arguments for your case.