What is a Loss Prevention Officer?
The first person you are normally stopped by after a shoplifting or attempted shoplifting is the store’s security guard, also known as the loss prevention officer. Depending on the store, these security guards can work in teams with one watching the surveillance videos while the other walks the floor or aisle in plain clothes looking for suspicious activity. These loss prevention officers highly trained and will normally not move forward to confront and detain a suspect for shoplifting unless they feel that they have strong proof that they purposely shoplifted. Some loss prevention officers are more aggressive than others and make substantially more shoplifting busts than others. That is why our New Jersey shoplifting lawyers know many of these loss prevention officers by name and maintain professional relationships with them to try and benefit our clients.
Does a Loss Prevention Officer Have The Same Powers as a Police Officer?
A loss prevention officer does have the same “police powers” as a regular police officer. They do not carry guns and they cannot handcuff you and process you on a warrant like a regular police officer. While each store has different policies, most stores allow their loss prevention officers confront the shoplifter, and then to stop and detain them by escorting them back into the store to process them. At this point the loss prevention officers will normally call the police to come and make an official arrest and write up a police report. It is important to note, that if you struggle with the loss prevention officer in an effort to escape then you will most likely receive additional charges such as robbery for shoplifting. Once the police come, the loss prevention officer can sign the criminal complaint against you or the police officers can choose to do so. Either way the loss prevention will write his or her own report about the shoplifting investigation and that will have to be produced at court along with any surveillance tapes that depict the alleged shoplifting. If the loss prevention officer does not show up to court or produce the evidence against you, our attorneys will argue for a complete dismissal of your charges.
Can Security Guard Arrest and Search Me?
While a security guard or loss prevention officer cannot officially arrest you, they can detain you while police arrive. During that time, most loss prevention officers will search you as well as your bags or purse to take an inventory of what merchandise is allegedly stolen. This total amount of merchandise will be added up to see what degree of shoplifting you are charged with. It is important to note that you will be charged with the regular price of merchandise and the not the sales price. If the merchandise total is below $200 than you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense shoplifting, if the amount is between $200 to $500 then you will be charged with 4th degree shoplifting, and if the amount is more than $500 then you will be charged with 3rd degree shoplifting. To learn more about your rights and how we can help defend your charges, contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.