From time to time, the JFCY blog will host guest youth bloggers who will write on a legal topic relevant to youth. This time, please welcome Tracy who writes to us with a scenario involving shoplifting.


Clara, 15 is caught shoplifting at Wal-Mart for a pair of sneakers. Upon leaving the store, she is caught by security officers when the alarm goes off. They take the sneakers and make a telephone call to the police. Before the police have arrived, the security officers try to make Clara sign a document before she leaves the store. They threaten her and tell her she will be charged by the police if she does not sign the document? What are her rights?

  1. Some store security guards may have you sign a document before allowing you to leave the store. Clara does not have to sign the document. If she does not sign the document, she does not have to make the payment claimed.
  2. It is not legal for someone to threaten to have you charged by the police if you do not sign a document or agree to pay them money.
  3. It is not legal for someone, other than a police officer, to refuse to let you leave if you do not sign the document.
  4. The security guard may keep Clara at the store until the police arrive.
  5. If Clara tries to run away, it is legal for someone to use reasonable force to arrest or detain Clara if they have caught her shoplifting and she tries to run away.

For more information on what to do if you are caught shoplifting or if you have received a Civil Recovery demand for shoplifted items, please take a look at this helpful legal information pamphlet on Shoplifting (Civil Recovery). For other topics, consult our general Legal Information Pamphlets link!