While shoplifting may seem like a small crime, and not be considered one of the more serious crimes, shoplifting has always been treated as serious as larceny. Along with the charges of shoplifting, retail stores will often send a civil demand letter to you as part of the retribution for your crime.


Shoplifting Is Costly

Shoplifting and employee theft is very costly to the retail stores. Stores must budget billions of dollars for their losses and, on top of that, pay for preventative measures. Some preventative measures include security guards and loss prevention employees, surveillance systems, on-item security devices and systems and hidden cameras. They must also budget for legal representation, law firms and prosecution court fees. Once items have been stolen, it is unlikely that they would be recovered, and if recovered, are in a condition good enough to be re-sold.


State Rights to Civil Recovery

Every state has given retail stores the ability to send civil demand letters. These letters cover the compensation through civil damages that occurred because of the shoplifting. Not only will you have to pay for the cost of goods stolen, but also any additional fees related to the cost the store had to incur because of the criminal act.


Civil and Criminal Charges

Not only does the store have the right to file a civil lawsuit and pursue you financially in retribution for the shoplifting, they can also file criminal charges. The store has the upper hand regarding the type of lawsuits it can file. There is some limit to the criminal courts involvement as the district attorney will have to review the charges and choose whether or not to continue with the criminal charges. But, the store can still pursue civil charges.


Paying the Civil Demand

Some stores will take payment through cash or cashier’s check and will most likely have a collection’s agency pursue the damages. This will cause more fees to be tacked on to the original letter, especially if payment is not made by the original due date. You may be able to work out a payment plan. Just make sure everything that was agreed upon is put into a formal written document.


The Nahajski Firm understand both the criminal and civil aspects of shoplifting. Contact or call the Nahajski Firm at 206-621-0500 to learn about the next steps after shoplifting and receiving civil demand letters.