How Far Can Security Go to Stop Shoplifters?

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 27, 2010

Can stores post images of suspected shoplifters on their store walls and demand significant fines? Is this defamation and extortion or simply an aggressive way to stop shoplifters?

Video surveillance and on-site security are common measures to address shoplifters. Generally, they are used in conjunction with the police and legal system.

A June 2010 NY Times article examines a trend where aggressive storeowners basically take matters into their own hands. A few key quotes:

"[Suspected shoplifters] are photographed holding up the items they are accused of trying to steal. Finally, workers at the store threaten to display the photographs to embarrass them, and to call the police — unless the accused thieves hand over money."

"New York State law allows “shopkeepers’ privileges” that fall somewhere between the prerogatives of the police and a citizen’s arrest. The law also details “civil recovery statutes,” by which retailers may use the threat of a civil lawsuit to recover substantial settlements for even minor thievery. "

Additionally, the NY Times reports that this is a practice used and transferred from China to the US.

Part of makes this so interesting is that this practice almost certainly 'works'. Those who do steal now face major negative consequences both in terms of reputation and financial impact. On the other hand, the risk that this violates privacy, due process and the law is high. What safeguards exist to protect those from shopowner mistakes or targeting innocent people?

Almost 300 reader comments to the NYTimes article [link no longer available] shows divided opinion on these risks with a strong contingent of commenters expressing a common American sentiment that this is the shopowner's right to do so.

Contrast this to the European approach and it's quite clear that this would be illegal in most Northern European countries. The clearest example of this more stringent approach is the UK's Data Protection Act. Indeed, the UK has an Information Commissioner's Office [link no longer available] dedicated to monitoring and enforcing such policies.

Where the 'line' is drawn almost will certainly depend on the country. However, this practice is an interesting case of how far one is willing to go in the security and surveillance methods.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

PRC Warns Against China Video Surveillance Hacks, Hikvision Targeted on Feb 14, 2020
Hackers are targeting China video surveillance manufacturers and systems,...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
ADI Branch Burglary on Apr 03, 2020
A security systems distributor branch is an odd target for burglary but that...
Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of...
Dahua Faked Coronavirus Camera Marketing on Apr 01, 2020
Dahua has conducted a coronavirus camera global marketing campaign centered...
Netposa Stock Surges 46% After US Human Rights Abuse Sanctions on May 27, 2020
Last Friday, the US government announced it would sanction PRC video...
Faked Convergint Fever Camera 'Expert' Marketing on Jun 16, 2020
Convergint touts they are "THERMAL CAMERA SOLUTION EXPERTS" while faking...
Anixter Runs Fake Coronavirus Marketing Using Shutterstock Watermarked Images on Jul 24, 2020
Coronavirus faked marketing is regrettably commonplace right now but Anixter...
Amazon, Microsoft and IBM Abandoning Face Recognition Is An "Irresponsible PR Stunt" Says AnyVision on Jul 17, 2020
In the wake of national protests against US police abuses, big tech firms...
IPVM To Disrupt Trade Shows With Launch of Online Shows on Mar 17, 2020
IPVM is launching Online Shows, a series of ongoing events that allow sellers...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select...
Coronavirus Shuts Down ADT Door Knockers on Mar 26, 2020
Coronavirus has another victim - this time, alarm giant ADT has stopped all...
China Surveillance Vulnerabilities Being Used To Attack China, Says China on Apr 07, 2020
While China video surveillance vulnerabilities have been much debated in the...
US Passes Uyghur Human Rights Law Condemning Mass Surveillance on Jun 18, 2020
The US government has passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020,...
Convergint Refuses To Fix Faked Fever Marketing, FTC Complaint Filed on Jun 19, 2020
Since Convergint has refused to fix their faked fever camera marketing, IPVM...

Recent Reports

Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
HID Releases VertX Replacement Aero on Aug 10, 2020
HID is replacing two established and broadly supported types of access...
NDAA Compliant Video Surveillance Whitelist on Aug 10, 2020
This report aggregates video surveillance products that manufacturers have...
Telpo China Temperature Tablets Tested on Aug 10, 2020
The provider for overseas companies ranging from Canon Singapore to US'...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Camera Showcased by Chilean City on Aug 07, 2020
Deploying a fever camera outdoors, in the rain, with no black body, is...
"Grand Slam" For Pelco's PE Firm, A Risk For Motorola on Aug 07, 2020
The word "Pelco" and "grand slam" have not been said together for many years....
FLIR Stock Falls, Admits 'Decelerating' Demand For Temperature Screening on Aug 07, 2020
Is the boom going to bust for temperature screening? FLIR disappointed...
VSaaS Will Hurt Integrators on Aug 06, 2020
VSaaS will hurt integrators, there is no question about that. How much...
Dogs For Coronavirus Screening Examined on Aug 06, 2020
While thermal temperature screening is the surveillance industry's most...
ADT Slides Back, Disappointing Results, Poor Commercial Performance on Aug 06, 2020
While ADT had an incredible start to the week, driven by the Google...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all...
SIA Coaches Sellers on NDAA 889B Blacklist Workarounds on Aug 05, 2020
Last month SIA demanded that NDAA 899B "must be delayed". Now that they have...
ADI Returns To Growth, Back To 'Pre-COVID Levels' on Aug 05, 2020
While ADI was hit hard in April, with revenue declining 21%, the company's...
Exposing Fever Tablet Suppliers and 40+ Relabelers on Aug 05, 2020
IPVM has found 40+ USA and EU companies relabeling fever tablets designed,...
Indian Government Restricts PRC Manufacturers From Public Projects on Aug 04, 2020
In a move that mirrors the U.S. government’s ban on Dahua and Hikvision...