Can shoplifters get a criminal conviction too if they are banned from the store in England?

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geaytea | 21:54 Sun 22nd Feb 2009 | Law
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My friend recently was caught shoplifting an item of cosmetics worth approx. �5 in boots store... she saw the security man on the gate so she quietly put the item back. But they banned her from that particular store.
she has for sure done it for the first time. she lives with her uncle's family on student visa and so scared to tell anyone about it as they might not be the same with her. Her family usually takes her to that store and she does not want to tell them about it too.
She was very ashamed of her act and decided to take my help. I myself do not have much information about it. Can somebody please tell me that will she be criminally convicted for this act. They just took her house address and took her signature on the banning letter. she is also worried as she is on a student visa, that might be a problem for her in future to find a job.
Please she needs help at the moment as she is a changed person now. I will really appreciate anyone can help her out here.


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if the store has not involved the police then I cant see how she can get a criminal conviction. She would have to be arrested and prosecuted first.

There are loads of important details missing:
1) How old is your friend?
2) Did she actually pass through or by the checkouts without trying to pay, and did she walk out of the store with the cosmetics in her possession?
3) You say that "she quietly put the item back". In which case, how was she found out?
4) If your friend is a "juvenile" (under 17), she should not be questioned without being allowed to have an appropriate adult present. i.e. Parent, Guardian, Police Officer etc.
5) The store would not have the right to demand her name and address. They should have called the Police in order to find out such details.
6) She cannot get a criminal conviction unless arrested by Police, charged with an offence (i.e. shoplifting), and then convicted at Magistrates Court.
7) Is she non British? You refer to her as "on student visa".
It could be a bit tricky if she doesn't take her uncle into her confidence (not everyone else need know!). The reason I say that is because, unless her uncle is very hard hearted, he may perhaps go with her to the store to get the store's perspective. Even although this course of action would be difficult for your friend, I think that it may be best in the long run and even if the store feels that she should still be banned, at least matters would be able to be put to rest and she could then get on with her life without having the worry of this episode hanging over her.
We all make mistakes but a lot of the time it is best to get things off your chest and, who knows, her uncle may be more understanding than she thinks.
Good luck!
The shop can ban her if they like. They don't have to of involved the police. They (shop security) obviously saw her so there is no question in their minfd that if she hadn't been seen she would have stolen it.

She has been lucky this time. Tell her not to do it again.
Why do all the shoplifters pick on poor Boots - they're always getting robbed!!
My daughter's room-mate at Uni got caught lifting in Boots - they did get the police involved but she agreed to accept a caution so it never went any further.
She has not committed theft, unless she actually left the store with it. I used to have problems with shoplifters all the time, when I had my own business years ago. I even got headbutted by one and she fractured my brow bone, which resulted in some pretty horrendous bruising. She ended up doing ten weeks in prison, and according to the CICA, my injuries were not severe enough to warrant any form of compensation, even at the lowest tariff!!!!

But a policewoman told me that for it to be theft, they have to either leave the store or pass the point of no return, i.e. the till. (In my old shop, the till was right by the front door)
Question Author
Thanks for the answers. i really appreciated that. Here is some more info some of you asked about my friend.
1) She is 20 years old.
2)She did not pass the pass through the checkouts of the store with the cosmetic item. Actually she was heading towards it but she saw a security guard near the exit so she turned back immediately to put the item back on shelve but the security man stopped her when she was trying to leave the store empty handed that she put the item back after she saw her.
3) Store took her details and her sign for the banning letter and they said she will be recieving one at her home address too.
4) Yes she is non-british an a finalist university student and now looking for a job thats why she is worried about it.
5) Her uncle is very cooperative but they all are very good citizen like most of us and will not tolerate any unlawful behaviour by anybody living in their house and she is worried that they might knock her out of her house for this. She has only shared it with me so far. Her exams are so near and the only thing in her mind is that the worry and the guilt and for future a very hard lesson.
Firstly, cassa333 appears to be a mind reader by knowing what was in the security guard's mind! That's a very rare talent!
Secondly, geaytea, let me tell you quite categorically that, according to the details you've given, your friend has NOT committed the offence of shoplifting. Sounds to me as if she may have "panicked" on seeing the security guard and she therefore decided to put the item back. She, therefore, simply DID NOT commit the criminal offence of shoplifting.
The store staff still had NO AUTHORITY to question or interrogate her in law. After all, had she made any admissions to them, and the Police HAD been notified, the store would undoubtedly have used her admissions to them as part of their evidence. The store did however have the right to ask her to leave, as they could anyone for any number of reasons.
A Police Officer would realise that no offence had been committed. The Police could have given your friend a verbal warning about her future conduct but the matter would have ended there.
And don't forget, the store's version may differ radically with your friend's account of what happened. I do not know the complete facts, neither do you by the sound of it, only your friend and the store staff do.
I'm concerned that the store are apparently sending a copy of the banning order to her home address because I can only repeat that, IF you version of events is accurate, then the store had no right to demand ANY details from her, let alone threaten to send a letter to her home. I could only suggest that she doesn't have to divulge details of such a letter to her uncle or anyone else if she doesn't want to, difficult though she may find that to do.
If her uncle is as unapproachable as you say, then all your friend can do on this occasion is to put this down to experience and
Question Author
thanks for tthat quick reply.
yes my friend exactly told me what happened there and that i told you. they actually showed her and the store manager the video recording in which she clearly put the item in the bag and moved to the exit and then turned back to put the item back on the shelve.. its all recorded, she said, execpt her seeing the security guard.
the security guard also said to her that she is very lucky not to have taken the item out otherwise she would have to pay for the fine. actually he was waiting for her on the exit that if she passes he will stop her. but fortunately she was clever enough to realize that she should put it back.
she has not received the letter yet. she is also worried if its obvious from the letter envelope that the matter is serious or something so her family members might ask her about the letter too so she is saying she is leaving home late too so she can see the post before anybody else does it. but she hasn't recieved the letter yet.
yes they took all her details from her driving provisional lisecence.... as they asked for address prove with her pic on it. they did not take any pic of her. but i m sure they took it without letting her know from the cameras in the security room as they will be able to recognize her for future purpose.
she doesnt know how helpful will to discuss with her uncle.. but she is willing it to hide it for as long as possible. but i m sure that won't be for too long as that town centre is their family time visit area and she usually goto to that boots with her family and before that she will have to explain it to them...
no police was involed and no fine was asked ///// she was too scared to ask the security man about the criminal record at that time so she is worried about that now..
As everyone has said she has not committed a criminal offence although she did consider committing one. She should stop worrying and get on with her life and be thankful that a valuable lesson has been learnt without a punishment being inflicted. I am sure she will be a better person for this lesson.
Best to avoid Boots for a time though!!
Question Author
Hi.... thanks to all for helping my friend out here. she feels much more relaxed after that. Only one thing she is worried about. They said that they will send a copy of banning letter to her house but they still havent and it has been more than 3 weeks so far..
is there anthing serious that she needs to worry about.. because if its just the same letter from boots they should not have taken so long to send it...
is that the normal procedure or not????
Boots took a photograph of me today because of being caught shoplifting ... The police were not involved apart from doing a PNC check. Do they have a legal right to take it? What do they do with it? Is it available to all members of staff?

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