Shoplifting: What Happens If You Get Caught by Security Guards?

Updated on April 23, 2020
Alessio Ganci profile image

Human relationships, families: sometimes I like to get deep into these topics, by expressing my personal opinions!

Shoplifting Consequences

Shoplifting (stealing items from a store without paying for them) is often considered a stunt by many people who are involved in it. Some of them steal food from supermarkets because they do not have money, while many others steal everything just because they find something cool in doing this. These last ones are unaware of the consequences of their actions (or maybe they are aware, but they do not care about it), just like people who don't pay bill at restaurant. In fact, when you steal something from a shop, your act is apparently without consequences for the commercial activity's owner: people who are involved in shoplifting often justify it by saying "at the end, the supermarket will not fail if I steal a pack of biscuits". The error they commit by thinking this is that shoplifting should be seen in a general way: many people who steal packs of biscuits with the same reason, will effectively led to losses to the store, and that is the reason why shoplifting should be punished. In addition, if someone steals items from a store, it damages both customers and employees: the first ones will experience higher prices (as they are needed in order to repair losses caused by shoplifters), while the second ones may risk to get fired (just think about a security guard who is unable to stop a shoplifter: he may lose his work if the company believes he is unable to do it). If you look at all these aspects, it is easy to understand why taking away a pack of biscuits from a supermarket without paying for it is a serious crime.

Damages For You
Damages For The Shop
Damages For Customers
Humiliation of being caught stealing, while other customers are seeing this
Financial Losses
Higher Prices
Potential banning from visiting that store in the future
Less Funds To Maintain Shop
Less Items Available
Potential report to the Police
When shoplifting, every part gets damaged: that is the reason everyone should avoid doing it

What Happens If You Get Caught

If you or a friend of yours has been caught shoplifting, the first natural consequence will be a little humiliation (I don't imagine being caught shoplifting and turning on the anti-theft system while passing the barriers in front of many other people is a nice experience). If you find a security guard who is not keen on causing problems to other people, maybe you will be invited to pay the "forgotten" items (especially if you are young some guards tend just to alert you, however be warned many others are not so sympathetic). The first thing they will always do is retrieving the stolen items or making you pay for them.

First Part: You Are Filed

Supermarkets, and stores in general, deal with shoplifters by maintaining a record with their name. The security guard, after having regularized your theft, will take you to the offices and will ask you for your ID. Your name will be added to a record, so that they can recognize you the next time you try to steal again in that store. Many security guards tend to warn the first time, add the name to the record, and only if the shoplifter comes another time to steal again, the store will then call the Police. Obviously this does not mean you should try to steal something, by thinking "I try, if they catch me I won't go back stealing in this store, no problem", as other security guards may decide to call the Police the first times (and as said before, shoplifting should be avoided in general).

Second Part: Optional Ban From The Store

It is not unusual the managers of a store decide for a specific punishment, especially if this is meant to be an alternative to calling the Police (but sometimes it is an additional charge to the shoplifter, not an alternative). After having written your name on the book, the security will warn you not to enter the store in the future: you are banned forever from going in that place, even if you only want to buy something. Always remember a store is a private property, so while they cannot ban someone because of racial or sexual reasons, they can do it against a known shoplifter from visiting the commercial place another time. Another reason to avoid shoplifting: do you really want to risk not being allowed anymore to shop into your favourite store?

Third Part: Optional Calling The Police

Police can be called by the store staff, after all the other two steps have been completed (or only one, or even in place of both). If they do it, you will get in trouble with justice, as a new crime will be recorded for you: you will need to find a lawyer and then you will be involved in a lawsuit against you. This is the worst situation in which you are going to put yourself when shoplifting, especially if you are recidive in doing this crime.

Shoplifting Actions Lead To Less Freedom

Dealing with shoplifting results in various security measures taken by shops. Hiring security staff and installing cameras are surely the most common measures in order to prevent shoplifting. Some big shopping malls and small shops even disallow you to take photos inside, so that you cannot study the structure of the place in order to plan an attack in the future. This makes people who want to write reviews and take photos inside shops unable to do it.

In addition, we have to deal with annoying anti-theft devices applied to items we want to purchase, we cannot enter the changing room with more than a certain number of clothes and we are literally followed every second we move around the shop. This is the little "price" to pay in terms of freedom, in a society where shoplifting is a very common crime.

Have you ever stolen something from a shop?

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As you can see, shoplifting may lead you to serious consequences, that is the reason why it should not be considered as a stunt, but as a real crime, just like other ones. Before you personal liability for stolen objects, you should always consider also you are damaging someone else when you take items from a store without paying for them.

© 2016 Alessio Ganci


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    • Waafa Saleh profile image

      Waafa Saleh 

      4 weeks ago

      Just having her putting pink handcuffs on me made me resist a little. If they were plain handcuffs, it wouldn't have angered me as much.

    • Waafa Saleh profile image

      Waafa Saleh 

      2 months ago

      I'm 29 and I was caught shoplifting from Claire's Boutique. An undercover female loss prevention agent stopped me. She handcuffed me behind my back, back inside the store, with pink handcuffs. That even added to the humiliation.

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      I'm 29 was caught shoplifting from Claire's Boutique. An undercover female loss prevention agent stopped me. She handcuffed me behind my back, back inside the store, with pink handcuffs. That even added to the humiliation.

    • profile image

      Catherine Kermode 

      5 months ago

      I would like to be arrested by the Police as soon as soon as possible. I live at 9A Western Road, Henley - on - Thames. You will be able to arrested today and take me to the police station. I would like to go to Prision.

    • Alessio Ganci profile imageAUTHOR

      Alessio Ganci 

      6 months ago from Italy

      You got back and paid it without being caught, so you fixed by yourself the mistake: you didn’t escape or do other things which are clearly indicative of a malicious activity. So it’s very hard they can charge you with shoplifting, but it still depends how they deal with this crime in USA: my point is from a Italian perspective, and here you can be charged if you escape without paying: if you go back by yourself and pay, before getting caught by the security guards, you are automatically fixing your error, so that you aren’t liable for shoplifting. Escaping would be instead admitting you are really stealing and have intention of doing it.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      I walked out with a large case of water underneath my cart. It was $4 and I had forgotten it was there when doing self-checkout. As I exited the store, I hit a bump and the water slid, causing me to notice it. I was only a few feet outside, so I turned around, notified the person checking receipts, then paid for it. No one stopped me, though I am sure it was on camera. The next week I overheard the store manager talking to an employee, probably about me. The conversation was essentially: "See that guy? We almost caught him last week!" He seemed very upset that I had corrected the error myself. My question is, since I left the store, if only for a few seconds, can they still charge me with shoplifting?

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Today I took something and used it i the store and left and they definitely caught it on tape what do I do?

    • profile image


      20 months ago

      I was on 15,jan with my classmate shopping

      And She Had Stolen a Chain which it cost 10-20 Euro

      I didn’t saw it on the store when she stoled but when we were out from the store she showed me that she had a Silber Nicklase (Chain) stoled

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I appreciate, cause I found just what I was looking for. You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye kfgkffdgabca

    • Alessio Ganci profile imageAUTHOR

      Alessio Ganci 

      3 years ago from Italy

      Yeah I agree, in fact many store managers tend to just ban people even for bigger stealings

    • profile image

      Max Wise 

      3 years ago

      This is so stupid going after

      Shoplifters. If it is under $5

      Just forever ban them from

      Your store. Why spend so

      much time, effort and Tax-

      payer $$ prosecuting these

      Kinds of petty crimes. There

      Are 450 Thousand Robberies.

      Let shoplifters for petty crimes go.


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