Can Loss Prevention Officers Arrest People for Shoplifting?

Posted On: February 14th, 2020 by Bradley J. Groene
Woman putting store's shirt in her purse

Shoplifting involves stealing merchandise from a merchant, whether in a store or another venue. The specific Ohio theft charges you face will vary depending on the value involved.

In many stores and retail establishments, there are designated security personnel, referred to as loss prevention officers, tasked with preventing shoplifting and employee theft. These officers commonly work in larger retail stores like Walmart, Macy’s, etc. While they are not the police and do not have police powers, loss prevention officers do have certain legal rights to detain and question suspects.

If you are stopped by loss prevention and charged with shoplifting, a Cincinnati shoplifting attorney can help. Luftman, Heck & Associates knows what loss prevention can and cannot do. We are your best option to having Ohio shoplifting charges dismissed or reduced. We will aggressively explore all your options and minimize the effect of a shoplifting charge on your life.

Call (513) 338-1890 today and set up a free case consultation.

What Rules Apply to Loss Prevention Officers?

Loss prevention officers (LPOs) are mostly private security guards. Therefore, they are not subject to all of the obligations imposed on police officers. For instance, LPOs do not provide suspects with a Miranda warning before detaining or questioning them. As a result, any statements you make to a loss prevention officer may be used as evidence in court.

In addition, loss prevention officers may testify at a shoplifting hearing or trial.

Loss Prevention Officers Can Detain You

Ohio law allows a loss prevention officer to detain someone suspected of theft or failure to pay for a reasonable period. This allows them time to investigate the shoplifting, question you, and detain you. However, their authority only extends to the store and the premises’ vicinity.

The amount of time you can be detained must also be reasonable. If the police fail to show up, loss prevention officers must release you soon afterward. In addition, LPOs cannot force you to speak to them, and they cannot use deadly force to detain you.

Loss Prevention Polices Differ by Store

Many stores have their own procedures and policies for loss prevention. Some stores take an aggressive approach by detaining individuals suspected of shoplifting. Other stores handle things differently, where loss prevention officers do not detain suspects unless they voluntarily cooperate.

Regardless of whether a detainment is voluntary or not, it’s important to understand that you are not obliged to answer any questions imposed by an LPO or sign any documents. Many stores will try to get an admission of guilt by promising not to press criminal charges. This is frequently untrue and only used to lock you into a statement.

In addition, loss prevention officers are not the police. They cannot charge you with retail theft or any other offense. After detaining a person, the store or loss prevention officer must contact the police.

If you are detained by store security for suspected theft, depending on the circumstances, you probably shouldn’t make any statements to a loss prevention officer or the police. It’s better to wait and discuss the situation with an attorney.

Cincinnati Shoplifting Attorney Brad Groene Can Help

Charged with shoplifting in Ohio? Contact a Cincinnati shoplifting attorney right away. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we will explain your options, try to clear up any misunderstandings, and fight to secure the best possible result.

Call LHA attorney Brad Groene today at (513) 338-1890 to schedule a free consultation.