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Man Arrested for Refusing to Show Drivers License 1972

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the living-your-life-with-principles dept.
NMerriam writes "Michael Righi was arrested in Ohio over the weekend after refusing to show his receipt when leaving Circuit City. When the manger and 'loss prevention' employee physically prevented the vehicle he was a passenger in from leaving the parking lot, he called the police, who arrived, searched his bag and found he hadn't stolen anything. The officer then asked for Michael's driver's license, which he declined to provide since he wasn't operating a motor vehicle. The officer then arrested him, and upon finding out Michael was legally right about not having to provide a license, went ahead and charged him with 'obstructing official business' anyways."
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Man Arrested for Refusing to Show Drivers License

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  • by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:08PM (#20452967)
    This brings up a question. Is a store legally allowed to make you show your receipt or look through your bags? I mean, once you buy an item, it is yours and is officially your property, isn't it? If stores can look through a shopping bag does that mean that stores can look into personal bags, and even search your pockets and such?
  • by shawn443 (882648) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:09PM (#20452983) Homepage
    According to the article, it was for obstructing official business or some such nonsense. Later, the blogger cites a law saying he only has to inform the officer of his name, date of birth, and address. It won't matter much though. It reminds me of the time I tried to fight a traffic ticket. The judge didn't want to hear anything I said. I lost. I swear to god, when I was leaving the courthouse, I saw the same judge and same cop outside smoking a cigarette. Judge says to cop "Congratulations on the promotion Bob".
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:14PM (#20453053) Homepage Journal
    "open and shut"? I'd love to see the Ohio laws quoted here.

    I own a retail store in California, and have made it my business to know the law. Here the store would win any lawsuit hands down. It wouldn't even make it to a trial; the defending attorney would quote all the case law that has already decide the issue and the judge would throw the suit out in pre-trial motions.

    Perhaps Ohio is radically different, but I doubt it.
  • Identify yourself (Score:2, Interesting)

    by uncleO (769165) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:15PM (#20453085)
    Here in Canada, the police can arrest you for refusing to identify yourself. A driver's license does that, but any other way would work. You must have a similar law down there, too. It sounds like the guy was being a jerk, and the cop used that excuse.
  • by Splab (574204) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:16PM (#20453087)
    I don't know what the law says in the land of the free, but here in Denmark they definitely are not allowed to search you - they can ask if they may see the content, you can refuse and if they have enough to suspect you (ie. seeing you putting something in the bag or setting off the alarm) they can call the police and have them search you.
  • by ClayJar (126217) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:17PM (#20453111) Homepage

    This brings up a question. Is a store legally allowed to make you show your receipt or look through your bags?
    From what I've read (which is by no means authoritative), a normal store can only ask; you are free to refuse. A "club" on the other hand (like Sam's, Costco, or whatever) where you are a member and have a membership agreement *can* require it, as they'll have that permission written into the membership agreement, which you accepted as a condition of shopping there.
  • Re:RTFA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:18PM (#20453129) Journal
    Well, that's great! Stores have the right to ask for your receipt, but you don't have to show it. Kind of an empty right, but whatever. A determined thief could then just take whatever he wanted and walk out of the store and there's nothing they can do. They can't detain him or stop him. If they touch him at all, they're violating his inalienable rights.

    Any thoughts on how to keep goods from leaving the store unauthorized, without violating someone's rights?
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:22PM (#20453179)
    Whatever happend to "sorry man, I fucked up, my mistake" "oh, ok, shit happens, have a good day, watch it next time" and simply get on with your life?

    Well, according to the summary (TFA being dead now), no one said "sorry man", instead the cop looked for another pretext to charge and arrest him. So lawyers are already in the picture.

  • Idiot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogDude (805747) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:29PM (#20453251) Homepage
    He's an idiot, as is everyone else who shops there. Go ahead, mod me down, but it's true. If you're willing to hand some goon your receipt to prove you haven't stolen anything when leaving the store, and you still shop there, then you are an idiot, and you are part of the problem. I don't give a shit about "low, low prices" or "convenience". Everybody reading this who shops there is a moron, because you value money (and the crap your money can buy you) over your own self respect (which you cannot purchase, but you can gladly throw away in a Big Box store like this).

    There are a lot of dumb people out there, and statistically speaking, you're probably one of them.
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:32PM (#20453289) Homepage Journal
    I remember the first time I exited a Fry's on my first visit to the US. I thought they were joking. I've never, ever been asked to provide a receipt on exit anywhere else in the world. It seemed like I'd gone to some kind of police state. Except in the actual police states I've been to stuff like that or the excessive immigrations procedures for the US would never have happened.
  • In Soviet Russia... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr_Icon (124425) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:40PM (#20453377) Homepage
    No, this is not a troll post. :) In Soviet Russia, most stores had the following system (and some still do to this day):

    1. You find an item that you want to buy. Sometimes it's behind the counter, so you can't really reach it, only ogle it from afar.
    2. You go to the cashier's booth and pay for the item. The cashier gives you a check with the sum you paid written on it.
    3. You go back to the counter and give the check to the salesperson, who will then give you the item.

    Horrible, at least from the point of view of client-friendliness, but pretty effective against shoplifting. No, I'm not at all advocating this system -- hell, if some store tried it in America, they'd be out of business by mid-afternoon. I'm just saying that if big chains are that concerned with theft-prevention, then that's the only relatively effective way to solve the problem.
  • Amazing screw up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:44PM (#20453421)
    This is supposed to be Cop Law 101 for these guys. Under the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio, cops can ask you whatever they want, but they cannot force you to answer or to cooperate unless they have reasonable articulable grounds to suspect that you have committed or are about to commit a crime.

    The Circuit City employee was not accusing this fellow of stealing anything. He was simply under the mistaken impression that he could force a customer to comply with a search. What the cop did was an unreasonable seizure, an illegal arrest. What the employee did was false imprisonment. It doesn't matter what the Ohio legislature says about having to show your ID when a cop asks. A legislature cannot override the Federal Constitution. Yes, both the cop, the store employee and the store could be liable.

    I think the guy should sue everyone involved. It has come to be a serious annoyance that every store thinks they can detain you because you had the gall to purchase something from them. One way to educate people is to have a nice fat lawsuit. If Circuit City wants to avoid all the bad publicity this would generate, they can settle for a nice fat sum.
  • by santiago (42242) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:53PM (#20453575) Homepage

    it's a pretty useless practice. I've been in stores where it is about 10-12 feet from register to exit, they see you paying at the register, they see you walk directly from the register to the exit, and then they still want to see your receipt.


    It's not to prevent shoplifting. It's to prevent theft with employee collusion. If you and the cashier were accomplices, you could grab a $500 product and a $5 product, get in the right line, only get the the $5 one rung up, and walk off with the $500 one perfectly calmly in plain sight. It sounds dumb, but I've heard that's the real reason they go through the whole receipt bullshit. The employees are basically informing on each other.
  • by chrispatch (578882) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:55PM (#20453587)
    I always refuse to show my receipt / property when leaving Fry's (the worst in my opinion) / other stores. I also refuse to wait in line to leave. I just walk by and leave. Only once has the "loss prevention employee" tried to stop me. I simply informed him everything in my bag and on my person was my property and if he wished to search it he would need to call a law enforcement officer. I also informed him that if he tried to grab me I would consider it assault and I would defend myself. I do not surrender my right to privacy because I enter a privately owned store. Their effective recourse is to inform me I am unwelcome to return, ask me to leave and/or call law enforcement if I refuse.

    As to blocking my car in the parking lot, that sounds pretty much like the textbook definition of unlawful detention / kidnapping. Maybe a call to the FBI is in order.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:01PM (#20453673) Homepage Journal
    Correct - I looked into this because I was once assaulted at a CompUSA because I saw kids shoplifting, wearing jackets in the middle of summer and walking out unchecked, and the doorman asked to see my bag. I refused, saying "why are you harassing paying customers? If you do not trust your cashiers you need to be watching them, not harassing me." He then yanked the bag, drawing blood. Okay, he assaulted me, and I have physical proof - I now had the right to defend myself and physically disable him. I snap kicked him in the nuts, grabbed the pressure point in his wrist, and yelled for the manager. I explained what happened, and calmly said "Now, we can do one of two things: one, you can press charges for shoplifting without seeing my bag, and THEN you may check the contents and my receipt. If you are wrong, I WILL be pressing charges for unlawful arrest, assault, AND sue the store for defamation. Two, you can make this jerk apologise and then fire him on the spot."

    Well, he knew I know my rights, he saw that the guy drew blood, and he has seen me in the store before buying high-ticket items (although after that episode the most I've spent at that store is $20, and scored advertised freebies on the day-after-thanksgiving loss leader specials) and he made the guy apologise and informed him that he was fired. Calling the police was deemed unnecessary. At that point I did give him the decency of showing him the bag and receipt, only to underscore my point. I then asked why I, a paying customer was harassed and assaulted, while teenagers are walking in, stuffing their bulky jackets, and then walking out unchecked.

    Depending on your state, the store does NOT have the right to search your bags without cause, EVEN if clearly posted, unless you pay a fee and sign an agreement containing those terms - such as BJs, Costco, Sam's Club, etc. - when you walk into your store you do not give up your rights as an American citizen. Of course that was the 1990s, and all of that has changed now under Bush's administration; one is presumed guilty until proven innocent since 09/11.

    Also, regarding drivers' license: depending on your state you may not EVER have to hand it to a police officer. That is the case here; I was once pulled over for passing in a passing zone - LEGALLY, in my Corvette. There was PLENTY of room to pass, but I did it uphill. An officer I saw two cars behind (I saw him behind before I passed - I thought nothing of it because it was a legal passing zone) pulled me over. He was a rookie - he asked for my license and registration. I SHOWED them to him. He asked me to hand them to and I told him I will not; it is my right to refuse to hand it to him, but I DO have to show it to him upon request if I am a driver and pulled over, so I am obliging to the law and showing it to him. He then asked if I knew why I pulled him over, so I said "I presume speeding, however, while passing I did not exceed the speed limit. As you know, that woman was hindering the flow of traffic, driving more than 10 under." Well, he proceeded to inform me he pulled me over because he does not think that passing zones should be legal, and that were I driving a Ford Escort, or even the Ford Crown Vic he was driving, I would not have made it passing uphill. I then entered smartass mode and replied "Well, this car isn't a clown vic, is it? I regret to inform you that despite your preferences, passing zones are legal, so write me up, and then you can follow me to the station a half mile down the road and we'll have a nice long chat with your supervisor." Well, of course he did not write me up, and saw that I had a spotless driving record for the previous 7 years (except for a "fix it" tag because I was pulled over in an MR2 I refused to get inspected - I now get my cars inspected because it has become a moving violation, not just a fix it tag and small fine). I've seen him around town since then and he's actually been downright friendly. I think he was just having a bad day or something, or he was gung-ho since he was a rookie, but I had
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:06PM (#20453745) Journal
    Well, luckily this guy is still alive to take the case to court. But the courts don't always work for everybody [civiliansdown.com]. Here we have a case where the state's attorney says you must submit to an arrest, even an illegal one. It also appears here that you must submit to being shot and killed with no expectation of any kind of justice. And people wonder why there is no respect for the law. Well, the law has to show respect for us.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:19PM (#20453903) Journal
    Welcome to the world of zero tollerance. Another word that you might use to describe discretion is discrimination. Of course, in the modern world, society has given up their ability to discriminate between "good" discrimination and "bad" discrimination. Therefore, in order to avoid any appearances of bad discrimination, cops are ordered by their superiors, who are ordered by the politicians who are ordered by the people (that's you and me) to treat everyone equally and to not use "soft sciences" like discretion and discrimination and profiling. If you want it to change, start lobbying to give the cops their right to use reasonable discretion again.
  • by green1 (322787) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:21PM (#20453945)
    This definitely appears to be the case, I recently picked up some expensive electronics, the sales person helped us carry them to the car (we didn't need any help, but he informed us he had to as per store policy on large purchases) and even though the employee was escorting us out, and he was the one carrying the items, the loss prevention fellow still needed to see the receipt and compare each item to it to make sure they match...
    It would suck to work somewhere where management assumes all employees are thieves... now the next question is... how corruptable is the loss prevention fellow...
  • by JavaRob (28971) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:29PM (#20454069) Homepage Journal

    sorry to say this but I think you overreacted. You are 100% ok from a legal standpoint but what would have been the problem with simply showing him the receipt and opening your bag? Honestly...
    Of course he "overreacted". He explained it pretty clearly in the article -- this is not about doing the easiest thing, or avoiding trouble by playing along with something that's not a huge inconvenience (but technically illegal).

    This is about doing the occasionally hard thing, testing the system to make sure it's working the way it's supposed to.

    Because if it ISN'T (and he showed that the system did NOT work correctly), this is the point where it needs to get straightened out, while it's just about searches in an electronics store being illegally enforced by the police. Yes, it's wrong, but people aren't losing lives over it at this stage.

    And hey -- that's what we are supposed to do, as citizens of a representative government. We're *supposed* to be double-checking the laws, we're supposed to be scrutinizing our police and government, we're supposed to be doing what we can to stop abuses of the power we give them over us.

    Of course, we can always wait until we're personally, drastically harmed, but by then it's generally too late.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:33PM (#20454137) Homepage
    But there was no crime, because they had already checked his bags, and verified that there was nothing stolen. They should have just let him go on his way. Instead, the cop hassled him for his identification. To me it seems the cops are way too wrapped up with verifying the identity of everyone, instead of just stopping criminals. My uncle called in to report a drunk driver racing around town, and he spent a lot of time on the phone trying to convince them to just go arrest the guy, and that he wasn't going to tell them his name. He didn't want to be involved (it's a small town, didn't want the offender to come knocking on his door), he just wanted them to stop the guy. Anyway, car ended up crashing, and someone(from what I remember, it wasn't the driver) ended up dying. Instead of just going and investigating it, they spent a bunch of time just trying to get his name, and then brushing him off with a "we'll see what we can do about it", and "we might send someone around to check it out". Just do your job, and unless it's specifically necessary for doing your job, stop trying to identify every person in existence.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:38PM (#20454205)
    He called the police because the store manager was illegally detaining him. The police officer misread the situation and then made it worse by pressing charges. The man was within his rights to ask a officer of the law remove the store manager, the policer officer was over stepping his mandate by insisting on ID and then pressing charges when they weren't presented.

    This case is so obvious and clear that it's a civil liberties lawyers wet dream. Unless the story is missing details such as some state law insiting on ID. It seems TFA made it clear that no such law existed although the officer assumed it did.
  • by GPL Apostate (1138631) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:45PM (#20454291)
    It goes beyond the actual price of an item and to whether an it is a particular high-theft.

    My wife and I spent a bunch of time in a Frys not long ago. She needed a Leatherman for her work, so we threw one in the handbasket. Leatherman's are high theft items. She works in retail so is 'up' on these matters. She says we were watched by two and then three store detectives for the rest of the store visit. And we spent quite a while longer in the store, together and with me 'disappearing' for part of the time (I tend to jump around in the store looking at many items). We probably provided the exercise that day for all the employees.
  • by coryking (104614) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:52PM (#20454403) Homepage Journal
    I hear this all the time. My friends (while waiting in the receipt line, of course) always like to say "you know, this is illegal, we dont have to stand in this line". Yet in the entire thread that has spawned from your post, I have yet to see an actual URL to either case law, or a state/federal law that actually spells out the legality of bag checking. I can easily see a laywer arguing that the practice is simalar to checking bags on the way into a baseball game; as long as the customer knows they must consent to a search than the store or ballpark is doing nothing wrong.

    This isn't to imply that they *should* be doing this, it is just to ask if it is actually legal for them to do so. Right or wrong is a whole different ball of wax. On the one hand, being treated like a criminal isn't a good thing, but on the other hand bringing fireworks into a baseball game is bad and so is walking out the front door of Fry's with a 1TB hard drive you didn't pay for. Does the businesses ability to prevent theft outweigh the cost of subjecting a customer to a shopping bag search? I don't know. Fry's sells a lot of very expensive things (unboxed ram & cpus) that are very easy to hide from cashiers. It isn't like a Target where most of the small stuff is inexpensive. If target had a bag check, that would be rather silly. Fry's, I dont know... It really doesn't bug me that much as long as I don't have to wait in a line.

    But is it legal in all 50 United States? My gut says yes. If you want to bitch about something that *is* messed up, go bitch about cashiers checking who ask for photo ID when they take your credit card. Every merchant account contract I've signed or read explicitly prohibits this. You aren't even supposed to match signatures according to the contract.
  • by Asmor (775910) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:25PM (#20454827) Homepage
    Man, I remember once in high school they pulled our entire shop (Vocational school) out into the hallway to let some drug sniffing dogs take a whack, and while we were out in the hallway the principal made us all empty out pockets and show what was in our wallets... They took one of those novelty shocking lighters from me (doesn't actually ignite, just shocks the person holding it) and questioned me about the suspisciously large amount of cash in my wallet ($40).

    Sadly, that was back before I'd known my rights and had grown a backbone to enforce them.
  • by bobstaff (313564) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:33PM (#20454945)
    I just had a couple of thoughts on the right of a store to look through your purchases.

    1. Since they do not (explicitly) charge you for the bags they put your items in can they claim they are actually searching their bags?

    2. When leaving a store with a cart owned by the store, do they have a right to search the contents of their cart?

    Anyone have any legal insight?
  • by tftp (111690) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:52PM (#20455199) Homepage
    I'm so much not a lawyer I don't understand something here. You assert that "Violation of the Fourth Amendment is not a crime. It's a procedural violation." But then I started thinking:

    1. The Constitution is a law in this country. Some even say that it's The Supreme Law.
    2. Breaking a law is called "crime".
    3. Therefore if you violate the Constitution you are committing a crime.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:55PM (#20455227)

    If they see you concealing merchandise does in no way equal "Unwillingness to produce a receipt".
    Agreed. But I'm not certain concealment is a necessary condition for "reasonable suspicion of shoplifting" in every state. If you'll refer back to the link I posted, it says: "unless you've met your state's definition of probable cause for shoplifting... a retailer has absolutely no right to detain you" At issue is Ohio's definition of "probable cause for shoplifting", which I wasn't able to find by perusing the Ohio revised code. As for whether the merchandise is purchased or not...that's sort of the point of asking for a receipt- to determine whether it was purchased. It's convoluted, I admit, but I could see a retailer successfully making the argument, "We don't detain people who have legally purchased merchandise; we do, however, detain those whose merchandise is of unknown status." Until you show a receipt, the status of your merchandise (purchased or non-purchased) is unknown.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:29PM (#20455601)
    Those Circuit City employees are lucky all they'll probably lose is their pride (corporate will take the hit in any lawsuit).

    I myself once had a similar situation happen. I had a final paper due for my English Composition class. I went to the lab to print it out... only to find that the lab's printer was out for service (this is a small school, no multiple labs)

    I went up to my room, smiling, since I own a printer in case just such a situation occurs.

    Only the printer was out of toner.

    Now I was not smiling at all, I was nervous as shit. I got in my car, doing probably about 60 in a 45 to get to the local best buy. Ran in, grabbed my toner, paid for it, hurried out past the line of people waiting in line to have their receipts examined/written on (I hadn't been in best buy for a good ten years on this day, so I forget exactly what the line was for, just that people who had paid were in it)

    Anyways as I walked past, one employee yelled to me I needed to stop and get in said line. I said something to the effect of "Sorry but I gotta get back FAST" and kept speedwalking out of the store.

    As I entered the double door airlock you find in my retail outlets, a number of things happened at once. I could hear the employee checking receipts yelling into a walkie talkie. The second employee, who I had been quite polite with, was running up behind, yelling SIR louder and louder each time. I looked up at one of those bubble mirrors and saw him approach from behind me to my left. I thought I was imagining things, that no one could be so stupid, that any loss prevention agent would know you couldn't put hands on a customer who you have no proof has stolen anything.

    But he kept coming. I quickened my pace a bit, then as the guy, a young guy, about 25, goatee, pierced ear started to lean in for the tackle, I set down my ink cartridge.

    The Best Buy Vigilante grabbed me by the shoulders, intending to throw me to the ground I believe. This was a mistake. I forgot to mention this, but I am a black belt in Tang Soo Do. I grew up in a rough neighborhood. I don't react well to physical contact.

    Anyways to make a long story short, I'd pretty sure that Best Buy dude ended up with a broken wrist and quite a pain in the groin region. Depending on how much he struggled when I swept him I may have dislocated his shoulder. I'm not certain, I didn't stick around to find out.

    I went back to my dorm, and printed my paper just in time for the start of my 11:30 class. I got an A on that paper. Either no one took down my plate number, or Best Buy never called the cops, because I never heard anything about the incident. (Though I chose not to press my luck and shop there again.)

    I personally think I was morally right in my actions, and I assume that legally speaking if a private citizen tackles another private citizen the law accepts that the tackler may have some natural consequences from the tacklee, but since I'm no lawyer I post this anonymously.
  • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:37PM (#20455691)
    I used to be a theater manager (I know - wow!)

    A typical scam was tearing the movie ticket at the box office register and then selling the next customer the other have of the ticket.

    As log as the usher was away from his position (and the customer did not notice their ticket said theater copy) it was an easy scam.

    At $8 a ticket in a 10 stadium theater, one could easily "earn" an extra thousand a shift.

    The trick was to make sure that you did it for different movies. Cashiers would be caught when a theater sold out but the system only reported it half full.
  • by fredklein (532096) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:53PM (#20455891)
    Okay. Let's look at that.

    I don't know the legalese, but I would assume that "reasonable suspicion" is defined something like 'evidence that would produce suspicion in a reasonable person'. Leaving aside the huge loophole of how 'reasonable' is defined, let's look at the rest. For it to be 'reasonable suspicion', they would need evidence that would lead them to think he shoplifted. Since he did, in fact, NOT shoplift, there can, by definition, be no evidence that he did shoplift. (You cannot have evidence of a crime that was not comitted.) Therefore, they had NO evidence. No evidence means no 'reasonable suspicion'.

    Put in simpler terms: he did not shoplift, therefore they had no evidence that he shopifted, therefore they could not be 'reasonably suspicious' of him.

    Until you show a receipt, the status of your merchandise (purchased or non-purchased) is unknown.


    Well, considering I just walked 20 feet in a straight line from the CASH REGISTER to the door, I think that's a pretty good indication the items in my bag fall under the catagory of 'purchased'.

    So, um, do you have a receipt for EVERY single item in your house? If not, but your own logic, a the store you bought you, oh, letts say 'Microwave'- the store you bought your microwave could bust in your door and take it back because you don't have a receipt for it.
  • by hb253 (764272) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:06PM (#20456029)
    Just a small data point.

    I too thought as you do, but was flabbergasted to find that most of the police officers in my town have master's degrees. More surprisingly, two are lawyers.

    Knock me over with a feather.
  • by StreetStealth (980200) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:21PM (#20456195) Journal
    My new approach is to show the receipt, while politely reminding them that "I'm doing this because I choose to and not out of legal obligation."

    Voila, point made, no danger of ending up in bad situation.

    That said, I'm glad someone is out there actually doing the hard work.
  • by HardWoodWorker (1032490) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:28PM (#20456275)
    After reading this, I stopped what I was doing and decided to write a letter to Circuit City, letting them know that my next purchase won't be with them (I was thinking about spending 3k this year to replace my ancient TV and get a home theater). Write them at http://www.circuitcity.com/cs_customer_email.jsp?c =1 [circuitcity.com] and let them know what you think. I think it's absurd to spend huge quantities of money (generally in the thousands) and deal with mediocre prices, idiot minimum-wage workers, and harassment.

    Best Buy in Lincoln Park, IL did something like this to me once. I waited 40 minutes in line to return a home theater kit (big box w/ many parts) Because the dimwit teenager at the door didn't give me a sticker, one of the assistant managers (think Farva from SuperTroopers) seized my box and told me that I'd be arrested for shoplifting. I presented them with my receipt and he told me "stop playing games." I tried calmly explaining many times that I've been waiting in line to return this crappy home theater unit, but he accused me of buying one the day before, walking into the store w/ nothing but the receipt, taking one (apparently opening & unwrapping the 20+ components, untying the 10 cables or so, putting batteries in the remote, etc), and trying to return the unbought, yet opened, one. I tried to be nice and tell him that there was a mixup and explained to him that when I walked in I went from the door to the customer service line and have been patiently waiting to return the defective home theater system (amp, dvd player, + 5 speakers & cables) the entire time. He kept accusing me of playing "mind games," to quote him. After awhile, I told him to check his surveillance tapes and he told me he was unable to do so. Eventually, I called 911 on them and the police officers took my side and told them to either demonstrate that I was shoplifting or to handle my return.

    In the end, they gave me a crappy $50 gift card and dirty looks. The manager kept using that "there's a lot of thieves this time of year" crap and talking to me like I was a criminal who just got away with stealing their merchandise. I regret not telling him off and telling him to focus on the thieves and not harassing their legitimate customers in the most inept way possible (I was more concerned about getting back to work since I did this on my lunch break). I did nothing wrong. I did nothing unusual. I even was wearing business causal clothes (I was in my late 20s, working at a yuppie job, behaving like a typical Lincoln Park yuppie). I don't care about their mistake. I'm really angry at their arrogance and ineptitude in handling the situation. I even sympathize with them not wanting their stuff stolen. However, if you're going to accuse me of stealing, at least do the effort to determine if I'm actually stealing. The store manager, the one who talked to me like I was a master thief who just pulled off another caper, kept ranting about the hid who was supposed to put a sticker on my box, who wasn't at his desk when I walked in, blaming the whole thing on him.

    I called their corporate office and let them know. Last I heard, the assistant manager was fired. I don't wish for anyone to go through what I went through.
  • by tompaulco (629533) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:33PM (#20456349) Homepage Journal
    I find it hard to believe that they can take you to the police station without having arrested you and that they can arrest you without telling you what they have arrested you for.
    My father was once arrested for accidentally killing a nuisance goose that happened to be of the same species as the migratory geese, which I understand are considered endangered. However, at the time that it happened, an a-hole treehugger confronted my father and threatened him, and called the police, but the police could not think of anything to charge him with. A few days later, after constant pestering from the tree-hugger, the police found an obscure law and charged him with "taking a protected waterfowl". Ironically, my father just killed it. The tree-hugger is the one who took it, and buried it. I guess the upshot is, be very careful when driving around the streets of Illinois, where these geese are found by the 10s of thousands. If you run over it, and some a-hole treehugger who used to be a hunter and is now casting his selfloathing onto others happens to see it, you could be in for a very expensive trial.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:37PM (#20456385)

    On the page pertaining to "false arrest" at that site, there is the following text:

    Many states have enacted legislation to protect the merchant from such false arrest claims by allowing the store to make "investigative detentions" of a customer suspected of shoplifting. In these jurisdictions, the law allows certain latitude or "merchant's privilege" if the merchant has a reasonable belief that a customer has stolen merchandise. In many jurisdictions, law allows the merchant to detain a customer for a reasonable time, and in a reasonable manner, for the purpose recovering the stolen merchandise or for summoning the police. The problem with these statutes is that they are vague as to what "reasonable" means and what the word "detain" means. Some merchants have overly relied on this statutory language to protect them from lawsuit only to discover later that it would not relieve them of liability.

    In states with such statutes, theoretically a large retailer like Circuit City would keep abreast of "how far" they can go without risking a lawsuit, and would push the law exactly that far and no further. It seems feasible to me that some states might consider failure to show a receipt to constitute probable cause. Especially since these stores don't make any effort to hide the fact that they inspect receipts when customers exit the store. The assumption is that anyone shopping there is aware of that policy and plans to abide by it, or else they wouldn't be shopping there. So, when someone seeks to avoid having his receipt inspected, it's likely for nefarious reasons.

  • by eck011219 (851729) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:16PM (#20456741)
    My understanding of it is that it's more to catch employees who slip products into the bags of friends than it is to catch random shoplifters. I guess Best Buy and its ilk were having a lot of trouble with employees taking out products in the trash, using friends to slip stuff out the door, and so on.
  • by GooberToo (74388) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:14PM (#20457255)
    You are completely correct. They stores very well understand they lose far more, usually by a factor of 10 to their employees and ESPECIALLY their own managers. Many managers actually double, tripple, or quadrouple their yearly income by Ebaying goods they stole from their own stores. When caught, often red handed, they are rarely arrested because the stores don't want it on public record.

  • by Anonamused Cow-herd (614126) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:15PM (#20457261)
    Yikes -- might have wanted to post this AC? I know retaliation isn't supposed to happen... but jeeze, it's common sense people!
  • Re:Amazing screw up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:54PM (#20458163)
    You might not be up on current law, but states can require you to provide your identity to a LEO under certain circumstances.

    Hiibel does not overturn Terry's requirement of reasonable suspicion.

    "Petitioner's concerns are met by the requirement that a Terry stop must be justified at its inception and 'reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified' the initial stop. 392 U. S., at 20. Under these principles, an officer may not arrest a suspect for failure to identify himself if the request for identification is not reasonably related to the circumstances justifying the stop."

    Thus, if the detention is not justified by reasonable articulable grounds of suspicion (the standard outlined in Terry), then the demand to identify cannot be charged as a crime. That remains the current state of the law.
  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:10PM (#20459255)

    He entered a store with a well-publicized policy of checking receipts, then refused to oblige the store's policy. If I were a judge, I'd consider that probable cause. We're not talking about police search and seizure here.
    Actually, what's funny about that is that because they have a policy of checking receipts, the store has probably given up any claim to having reasonable cause to detain a customer. They didn't ask for his receipt because they thought he might be shoplifting, they asked for it because some drone has to check a certain percentage of receipts or lose his job. Just stopping a customer to check a receipt could be considered detaining him (my lawyer would argue that, anyway), and the employee who did that would not be covered under the merchant's privilege, because that employee would have no reason to believe a crime had been committed. There goes the ball game.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:13PM (#20459271)

    The problem here is that's still a presumption of guilt without proof. "No, I don't want to be searched" is not an indicator of "nefarious" thinking (at least, it's not a good or "legal" one). The assumption that "anyone there is aware of that policy" is a faulty one. Who honestly walks into a store and watches the exit carefully as they walk in to see whether they "inspect receipts" or not? Whether a store "hides" that they do it or not is irrelevant; they don't get to detain everyone that refuses to hand over a receipt.
    How about this as a suitable compromise. At stores that use LCD customer-operated credit card readers, have the reader display a message to the tune of, "By signing you give Circuit City permission to inspect this receipt as you exit the store. If you do not wish to give said permission, please notify your cashier and he or she will kindly restock your merchandise and cancel the purchase." For those paying in cash, have a sign with the same message at each checkout station. That way nobody can claim ignorance. If you can't be bothered to give up 10s to assist the store in elmininating theft, then you're free to abort the purchase and exit the store unmolested. If you make the purchase, though, then refuse to show the receipt...you can't say you weren't warned.
  • by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Monday September 03, 2007 @11:51PM (#20460109)
    Somehow, the fact that the store has high crime is not this guy, nor anybody else who is a "Shopper"'s problem. The store needs to work on having more eyes on the floor and fewer assholes at the door.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:18AM (#20460331) Homepage

    However, though the items may now be his property, he's still standing on their property.


    Indeed it is. Nobody disputes that -- as it is their property, they have the right to tell any person they like to leave their store for any reason (subject to civil rights limitations, since they do claim to be be open to the public).

    They DON'T have the right to tell people as they are already leaving, "by the way, as a condition of leaving, we demand that you do X". By the time somebody is leaving, they don't have the option of simply staying for the rest of their lives and dying of old age in Circuit City. They have to leave sooner or later, you can't require them to do things in order to be able to leave and get on with the rest of their lives.
  • by letxa2000 (215841) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:50AM (#20460533)

    If you can't be bothered to give up 10s to assist the store in elmininating theft, then you're free to abort the purchase and exit the store unmolested. If you make the purchase, though, then refuse to show the receipt...you can't say you weren't warned.

    In other words, insult and detain your customers but let your non-customers avoid the insult and detention. Good policy.

  • by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @05:33AM (#20462003) Homepage
    Thank you also for your thoughtful reply. I aplogize for implying that you are like the cops or the store employees.

    Unfortunately for me, my wife feels the same way about these things as you do, so I get alot of grief from her about this stuff. I'm not as polite as you and my first course is to completely ignore people asking for my receipt on the way out. If they press the issue I say, "if you think I've stolen something please feel free to call the police, if not, please get out of my way as you have no right to stop me." My wife hates that. She doesn't understand why anyone would choose confrontation over obedience. I think it's her upbringing in a pretty strict Chinese family. But that's neither here nor there.

    So in a sense I guess that I defend the actions of people like the guy who is at the center of this story, because in a way it's like defending my own actions.

  • by torkus (1133985) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @09:52AM (#20464171)
    Since when is "sticking it to the man" defined as following the letter of the law? The law (which "the man" wrote and "the man" upholds, in theory) categorically states that he does not have to show ID.

    Keep in mind the guy who got arrested tried to LEAVE. He got in the car and was STOPPED by the manager. The manager could have easily stopped wasting EVERYONE's time by simply not trying to conduct an unlawful search. If you were being held captive (car blocked in by 2 people...and it's very illegal and unsafe to try to 'nudge' them out of the way) what would you do?

    Two idiots detain you and try to force you to do something illegal and you think you should go along with it just to "save everyone's time"???

    If you want to talk about wasting time though...how about having noisy parties that get the cops called weekly? Shouldn't you follow the demands of the neighbor (akin to the store manager!) and not have your parties?

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