accidental theft

Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
edited October 2014 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi guys, posting for a friend. In the USA, Pennsylvania.

"We went to walmart to get our usual foods, I picked up two boxes of granola bars opened one, took out a bar and ate it. I put the box back on a random shelf and we walked around for another 15 minutes. We grabbed a small 4.59 bag of cat food and my husband put it under the cart because we had our baby with us, diaper bag, my purse, meats, breads and eggs in the cart so there wasn't much room. We went through the line paid for everything and as we walked out the double doors into the street, two guys stopped us and said we were stealing from wal mart. we both forgot the cat food was on the bottom of the cart. They pulled us in an office and asked if there was anything else we didn't pay for, I told the guy about the granola bar. He took our id's and phone numbers and said we'd receive a letter in the mail. Are we going to get a fine even though we cooperated and owned up to the granola bars? I'm super embarassed."

What is she even looking at? Will it be a fine and nothing more?

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  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    Not sure. I sat on a grand jury a few months ago and we had to decide if there was enough evidence to press charges or not on dozens of shop lifting charges but they were cases over a certain dollar value. I think it would be way more then the cat food and granola bar was worth.

    The cat food could be an accident but admitting to straight up eating a granola bar is admitting to theft I would believe so any charges will be pretty impossible to fight I would think.

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  • BlarghyBlarghy Registered User regular
    Store security guards can't level fines. The store might send you a bill, but more probably will just ban you from shopping there.

    They could decide to press criminal charges, though if all they did was take your contact info without calling the police then and there it's somewhat unlikely.

    splokokchromdom
  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    Most likely you'll get a bill for "damages". On the cat food the proper response was "oh shit, my bad, let me pay for that" not "Lets go sit in a room with walmart security" On the granola bars, wtf, be an adult and wait till you buy it.

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  • splokoksplokok Registered User new member
    edited October 2014
    splokok was warned for this.
    :P

    ceres on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Nothing about that scenario sounds accidental.

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  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    The cat food is certainly a likely "oops". But what the heck. You opened a box of granola bars and ate it, leaving the box on a random shelf... that's not accidental.

    You showed no intention of ever paying for that because you put it back on some shelf somewhere.

    Now, realistically what can they do for maybe $20 at most of merchandise? Not that much, other than ban you from shopping there and/or possibly fine you.

    But in the future, don't do that. If you're stealing you should know you could get caught and in trouble.

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  • AspectVoidAspectVoid Registered User regular
    At best, Walmart will bill you for damages and ban you from the store. At worse, they call the cops and you're looking at petty theft charges (anything less than $50), which in Pennsylvania carries a maximum 1 year in jail and $2,500 fine.

    Given they didn't call the cops right away, they'll most likely bill you first and if you don't pay quickly, then they'll call the cops.

    PSN|AspectVoid
  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    To be fair "accidental theft" was the OP's phrase, not the actual thief's. She seems to be pretty open about stealing the granola bar.

    Either way, this will probably not be too serious. But in the future, OP, I hope your friend stops stealing things.

    ceres
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah I wouldn't call the granola bars an accident and what the hell who does that unless they are literally starving and unable to afford food.

    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    I have a two year old, and whenever I put fruit in the cart he always wants some, so I open up the package and make damn sure it gets rung up, even if the little monster eats half the raspberries.

    On whether she could face criminal charges, that's going to be a big maybe. I've prosecuted such cases for a municipality, and it does not matter if the cops showed up or not. What happens is the loss prevention person fills out a report and sends it to the police, the police then decide whether to send it up to the prosecutor (they almost always do), and then the prosecutor files a misdemeanor charge. This can happen more than 30 days after the incident.

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  • InvisibleInvisible Registered User regular
    edited October 2014
    I've heard similar stories and you find numerous links if you search google. Here's one from an expertlaw thread.

    Most cases seems to be they'll send a letter several months later asking for a fine to be paid or they'll sue in civil court.

    Invisible on
  • PriestPriest Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    @ceres - honest question here. In what areas is that culturally ok? (As in, to eat something prior to paying for it, then pay for it via the empty box/wrapper/bottle when you get to the cashier). Where I grew up in Front Range, Colorado, USA, that was a huge no-no, IE, you don't open something until you own it.

    I'm totally open to there being places/areas/cultures where that's ok, I'm just very interested to know what those are! I also imagine that in small / close-knit communities, where people 'know' each other and 'trust' each other, this is more OK than urban-ville, where shoplifting is a common problem.

    cB557
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited October 2014
    Priest wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    @ceres - honest question here. In what areas is that culturally ok? (As in, to eat something prior to paying for it, then pay for it via the empty box/wrapper/bottle when you get to the cashier). Where I grew up in Front Range, Colorado, USA, that was a huge no-no, IE, you don't open something until you own it.

    I'm totally open to there being places/areas/cultures where that's ok, I'm just very interested to know what those are! I also imagine that in small / close-knit communities, where people 'know' each other and 'trust' each other, this is more OK than urban-ville, where shoplifting is a common problem.
    I see this all the time at Safeway, actually, in the Bay Area (which is pretty urban). People are eating shit that they buy from the deli or drinking cokes before paying for them, usually nearby the register. As long as they pay for it, they are given a pass. There are stores that enforce a "no grazing" policy, but they usually have signs up and security guards to enforce this.

    Eating a granola bar and then putting the box back on the shelf, though... that's definitely stealing at pretty much any place.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    It's not something I do super often but no one has given me a problem about it. I hand over the bottle or wrapper or whatever at checkout without fail. I've done it in PA and now in Vegas, and I always assumed someone would stop me if I tried to walk out of the store without paying.

    Recently I did this at whole foods and when I handed the cashier the wrapper she said that though it was previously okay, they were kind of cracking down because people were taking advantage (not paying), so I may get stopped in the future.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited October 2014
    I try to avoid doing that myself since I feel guilty (even if I'm 110% aware I'm going to pay for it and not steal it), but I have sometimes done that if I'm right by the register and, for example, incredibly thirsty, I'll open a water that I'm a minute away from actually handing to the cashier to ring up. Still incredibly rare, but I've done it.

    I've done that in the Northeast and nobody has really had an issue with it...and I've only done that in places I've felt it would be "okay" (and tried to make it blatantly obvious that I wasn't trying to "hide" what I was doing). If there was a sign up or I somehow felt it would be uncomfortable or frowned upon, I'd wait until everything was done and paid for.

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  • HeirHeir Registered User regular
    Priest wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    @ceres - honest question here. In what areas is that culturally ok? (As in, to eat something prior to paying for it, then pay for it via the empty box/wrapper/bottle when you get to the cashier). Where I grew up in Front Range, Colorado, USA, that was a huge no-no, IE, you don't open something until you own it.

    I'm totally open to there being places/areas/cultures where that's ok, I'm just very interested to know what those are! I also imagine that in small / close-knit communities, where people 'know' each other and 'trust' each other, this is more OK than urban-ville, where shoplifting is a common problem.

    I do this all the time with a drink or something. I hand the half-empty bottle to the cashier so she can scan it. I've never once had someone tell me this was a problem, and I live in the Front Range as well.

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  • TNTrooperTNTrooper Registered User regular
    Priest wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    ceres - honest question here. In what areas is that culturally ok? (As in, to eat something prior to paying for it, then pay for it via the empty box/wrapper/bottle when you get to the cashier). Where I grew up in Front Range, Colorado, USA, that was a huge no-no, IE, you don't open something until you own it.

    I'm totally open to there being places/areas/cultures where that's ok, I'm just very interested to know what those are! I also imagine that in small / close-knit communities, where people 'know' each other and 'trust' each other, this is more OK than urban-ville, where shoplifting is a common problem.

    When i worked at Wal-mart in AZ employees were straight up told it is considered shoplifting and you will get written up or fired for it.

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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    Priest wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    @ceres - honest question here. In what areas is that culturally ok? (As in, to eat something prior to paying for it, then pay for it via the empty box/wrapper/bottle when you get to the cashier). Where I grew up in Front Range, Colorado, USA, that was a huge no-no, IE, you don't open something until you own it.

    I'm totally open to there being places/areas/cultures where that's ok, I'm just very interested to know what those are! I also imagine that in small / close-knit communities, where people 'know' each other and 'trust' each other, this is more OK than urban-ville, where shoplifting is a common problem.

    nah, I do that in big cities in California all the time with water or whatever. I imagine irs a bigger problem if the store has security and they are following you from the get go (i.e.. you are shopping at target or WalMart while black)

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah I've never done it in walmart, but then walmart never gives me a feel like I would want to stay there long enough to make it worth it.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    bowen
  • chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    IANAL but my understanding is that it is not stealing until you try to leave without paying for something.
    This makes sense to me, but obviously it will vary jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Eating a granola bar and putting the box back is pretty clearly stealing; forgetting to pay for cat litter on the bottom may not be, but once you've stolen one thing, it makes it harder for a store to be forgiving.
    How stores can enforce policies on people who are not breaking the law, but are engaging in behavior that would make it easier for them to steal is probably a grey area that will get worked on individual basis. I think?

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    RE: the granola bar... I tend to make my judgement on theft using the Aladdin rule.

    If it causes a bunch of scimitar-wielding guards to chase Aladdin, then you probably don't want to do that thing.

    tynicThe EnderPriest
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited October 2014
    Enc wrote: »
    RE: the granola bar... I tend to make my judgement on theft using the Aladdin rule.

    If it causes a bunch of scimitar-wielding guards to chase Aladdin, then you probably don't want to do that thing.
    Look, I steal only what I can't afford... but that's everything. :whistle:

    EDIT: Next time, I think I'll use a nom-de-plume. :D

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    The only way you could accidentally consume a product and then put the container back on the shelf would be if you've got some sort of serious mental disorder that affects memory.

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  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    The only way you could accidentally consume a product and then put the container back on the shelf would be if you've got some sort of serious mental disorder that affects memory.

    having worked in a couple grocery stores, there are actually a lot of people who feel entitled to "sample" packaged food. Way more than you would think, and they legitimately don't see it as wrong. They're technically incorrect, vis a vis the law and store policy, but when you work there and someone eats a grape or opens a pack of candy, you kind of end up looking at their cart and going "do I make them put back 200 bucks worth of shit because they opened one thing?"

    We always found it very frustrating.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited October 2014
    At Whole Foods, we had a guy who would steal a stack of deli containers like it was no big thing. Just would check out with them, didn't even try to hide them or anything.

    As for the 'friend', they're lucky if all they get is a fine. They should pay it immediately and learn from that experience.

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  • E.CoyoteE.Coyote Registered User regular
    The supermarket I worked at a while ago had a no grazing policy because it was really close to a camp for homeless people from nyc, and they would loiter in the produce section and eat whatever they felt like.The thing that always got me was when people would get the ready made food like fried chicken, eat half of it, then hide the rest somewhere else in the store. There was also a thing a few years ago where someone was tampering with food then putting it back on the shelf.

  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    E.Coyote wrote: »
    The supermarket I worked at a while ago had a no grazing policy because it was really close to a camp for homeless people from nyc, and they would loiter in the produce section and eat whatever they felt like.The thing that always got me was when people would get the ready made food like fried chicken, eat half of it, then hide the rest somewhere else in the store. There was also a thing a few years ago where someone was tampering with food then putting it back on the shelf.

    Yeah, it absolutely depends on the store. All of them have a no grazing policy I'm sure. But it's like jaywalking. Something that really isn't a big deal in many areas, and no one is likely to raise a stink about it unless you do something blatantly stupid... but in other areas, it's a pretty big deal.

  • Lindsay LohanLindsay Lohan Registered User regular
    The fact they purposefully picked up two boxes of granola bars and put one back makes it feel like they were trying to get away with taking one without paying and I'm sure that Walmart security will feel that way as well. It reads like they were thinking security would watch them open the package but be ok with it as long as they saw them check out with granola bars (they likely figured they wouldn't be watched the entire time they shopped).

    I would expect a bill and either a warning or a banning from that store. The cat food would have been a non-issue because that could be a legit accident and no security guard or people greeter is going to threaten legal action on that - they would just send you back to pay for it. However, with the very obvious attempt at deception on camera, I'm guessing they'll include the catfood in the theft accusation.

    I used to work at a grocery store and we never had a problem with someone eating while shopping - it just couldn't be anything that was supposed to be weighed (grapes, cherries, etc). However, that was 20 years ago in a small community and things have probably changed.

  • Kick_04Kick_04 Registered User regular
    Priest wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    If I eat something in the store I hand the cashier the empty box/wrapper/bottle because I ate something and therefore I need to pay for it because that's the difference between shopping and shoplifting. There was intent there and I hope that whatever happens this was a wakeup call and she doesn't do it again.

    ceres - honest question here. In what areas is that culturally ok? (As in, to eat something prior to paying for it, then pay for it via the empty box/wrapper/bottle when you get to the cashier). Where I grew up in Front Range, Colorado, USA, that was a huge no-no, IE, you don't open something until you own it.

    I'm totally open to there being places/areas/cultures where that's ok, I'm just very interested to know what those are! I also imagine that in small / close-knit communities, where people 'know' each other and 'trust' each other, this is more OK than urban-ville, where shoplifting is a common problem.

    I am technically in the mid-west and never paid attention or heard about this while was at store with parents growing up.

    My ex is from the east coast (20 min north of Boston) and she saw no issues with doing this with drinks. It was basically I am thirsty and want a drink while doing my shopping, as far as I remember we always paid for it at the end. The cashiers never questioned about it, normally would ring it and throw in the trash.

    I can honestly say I have thought about opening up some type of food and eating in the store or what not, when standing there deciding if I want to buy dish soap or paper towels until I get paid again.

    At one large local store that has a lot of international foods and a huge produce section, you can find 4-6 people standing at the table of strawberries/blueberries eating them instead of putting in a bag to buy. Some will probably see this next comment racist, but a lot of them standing around the tables trying the produce are middle eastern, not the only ones but majority are.


    As far as the OP goes, I doubt the store even saw the granola bar theft. There cart only had like 5 items in it, you can see the bottom easy enough, & some stores require you to place the items under the cart first and will have a sign near saying so. Like everyone else has said, pay for the cat liter and maybe find a different store to go to.

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  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    Good chance -from working in retail - that this wasn't the first time and they were being watched from the time they entered.

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