By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Before the manager of a Family Dollar Store in Saginaw, Michigan stopped a suspected shoplifter, I wonder if he said: Febreeze! I mean FREEZE! Before picking up the bottle of Febreeze and spraying the suspect with it.READ MORE: Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct Involving Ocean City Beach Patrol Members Under Investigation
The suspect was indeed neutralized – and the manager has been bounced from his job. But what rights does a shopkeeper have to detain a suspected shoplifter and what are the rights of the accused?READ MORE: Multiple Faiths Joining Forces To Combat Philadelphia's Rising Gun Violence
While private citizens don’t generally have the right to detain each other (it’s what we like to call, false imprisonment), store owners do have what’s called “shopkeepers privilege” which allows the owner of the business to detain someone he suspects of shoplifting if he has probable cause – in other words if he witnessed a person approach the merchandise and conceal it and fail to pay for it. But even so, he can only detain the person while waiting for the police and recovering the merchandise. He can’t touch or use force on the person in a harmful or offensive manner.MORE NEWS: 2 Mothers, Babies Rushed To Hospital After Being Rescued From Burning Frankford Apartment Building, Officials Say
If you are the accused, don’t get belligerent, simply ask for representation so you don’t turn a possibly incorrect retail theft claim into a real assault charge because that would really stink.