Articles Posted in Retail Fraud

Great Lakes Crossing Mall is a popular shopping destination due to its collection of outlet brand stores.  Neiman Marcus, Off Saks, Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, and Bass Pro Shop are a few of its known merchants.  An issue that goes hand in hand with the large amount of traffic at Great Lakes Crossing and desirable merchandise is shoplifting.

Great Lakes Crossing goes to great lengths to protect its tenants.  There is mall security, close circuit court, and a working relationship with the stores and Auburn Hills Police.

How do stores catch people?  The stores also have mechanisms in place to protect to protect themselves from losses from retail fraud, embezzlement, and other types of theft such as:

Retail fraud is a common offense that is regularly prosecuted.  Because shoplifting affects the profitability of stores, owners and corporations have taken steps to combat theft.  Many stores employ a combination of manpower, technology, and aggressively prosecuting offenders as a means to address this issue.

The manpower that is used for larger chain stores is primarily in the form of asset protection (also called loss prevention).  Asset prevention are trained to detect shoplifters based upon their mannerisms or based upon keeping track of persons that have been suspected of stealing from the store in the past.  There is also the use of customer service to actively engage the shopper (“is there something I can help you find”) to create an impression that the shopper is being watched.  Employees try to keep track of how many items are taken into dressing rooms, and to inspect dressing rooms to look for evidence of theft such as removed sensors, removed price tags, and missing items.  Many larger stores also have greeters or persons that verify receipts before the customer exits the store.

Technology can be in many forms.  The obvious technology are closed circuit television cameras and sensor detection devices.  Other forms of technology include store designs that eliminate or reduce blind spots.

Why people steal is a complex question with many different possible answers:

  1.  Thrill.  There is a sense of excitement for many.  The thought of getting away with something can be enticing.  The sense of accomplishment for outsmarting the system is intoxicating to others.  The adrenaline.  The satisfaction.  The feeling of achievement.
  2. Mental illness.  To some, the need to steal is a compulsion.  It is not always about need.  Typically a kleptomaniac steals without giving much thought to whether or not he or she actually needs the item.  It is not uncommon for people that steal to suffer from some form of depression.

Target stores take an aggressive approach to apprehending suspected shoplifters.  The reason for this is to deter shoplifting, reduce losses, and to protect the merchandise.  What specifically does Target do to address retail fraud:

First, Target prosecutes for shoplifting.  There are no warnings.  There is no mercy.   The employees involved with the theft investigation testify in courtrooms, when necessary. Target actively bans people from their stores with no trespassing orders who it suspects of  shoplifting.  Target has a civil law firm seek civil law settlements and judgments for damages.

Second, the store employs asset protection/loss prevention personnel that are well trained.  Technology is used to help the loss prevention team, such as closed circuit television, theft detection devices, and store designs to eliminate blind spots.  The loss prevention personnel have specialized training to identify behaviors of shoppers that suggest that they may commit some form of theft.  Target tries to identify known shoplifters so that loss prevention is alerted whenever such a suspect enters the store so that they can be watched closely.

It is not uncommon for a college student to have a retail fraud arrest (which is also known as a shoplifting arrest).  The reasons for it may include the thrill, greed, or necessity.  The common element to this type of offense is that if the student committed a retail fraud he or she did not look beyond the moment.  When you are young you may feel invincible, or might not look at the long term consequences.

All of this behavior is rather silly when the long term consequences are considered in light of the time, effort, and tens of thousands of dollars spent on a higher education.  The bottom line is that employers do not want to hire people with theft convictions.  Why?  There is a fear that the employee will steal from them or from customers.  Persons that do not respect boundaries when it comes to a merchant’s products may not respect boundaries when it comes to the workplace and company assets.  Also, there are plenty of other people looking for jobs to choose from that do not have shoplifting convictions.

The government also recognizes that persons with theft convictions should be either highly scrutinized or prevented from obtaining certain types of jobs.  Many jobs that require licensing such as lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants. etc, mandate that the person obtaining the license pass fitness and character background checks.

For any immigration related issue your best bet is to hire an experienced immigration lawyer.  The information in this blog is subject to change at any time.  Reading a blog is not a substitute for seeking the services of an experienced immigration or criminal defense lawyer.

Retail Fraud is considered to be a crime of moral turpitude (CIMT).  A conviction for retail fraud may or may not disqualify you for a visa in the United States.  The issue becomes whether or not the conviction is classified as a petty offense pursuant to INA section 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II).

There is a 2 part test to determine if the conviction is for a petty offense:

Somerset mall is one of the premiere shopping destinations in Michigan.  It is known for its collection of high end stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and others.  One of the issues that Somerset Mall and its merchants guard against is shoplifting.

Somerset Mall and its merchants employ a number of different tactics to prevent retail fraud:

  1. Highly trained loss prevention associates and mall security;

Cases of retail fraud can be prosecuted by the city of Troy or the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office.  For a person arrested for misdemeanor retail fraud that does not have an extensive record, the likelihood is higher that the case will be handled by the city attorney for Troy Michigan.

Troy Michigan has a local law (also known as a local ordinance) that allows for the city attorney to prosecute certain crimes (including retail fraud).  Cases prosecuted by the city attorney for Troy Michigan are handled at the 52-4th Division District Court which is located at 520 W. Big Beaver Road in the city of Troy, Michigan.

Retail Fraud under the Troy Michigan ordinance (Troy ordinance number 98.08.02) carries a maximum possible punishment of 93 days in the Oakland County Jail and a fine of not more than five hundred dollars.  Jail is an option that the Judges have.  However, in many cases, jail can be avoided.

Not everyone who conceals or removes merchandise from a store do it with the intent to steal.  Sometimes people take or conceal items by accident.

What may constitute accidental shoplifting?

  1. When shopping, items are sometimes placed under the shopping cart due to the item’s size or because the shopping cart is full, sometimes the items are overlooked.  If the item was overlooked it is possible that it is accidentally removed from the store without being paid for.

Although tampering with a theft detection device goes hand and hand with retail fraud, in Michigan this is a separate criminal offense.  This offense can be prosecuted either under the laws of the State of Michigan or by local ordinance.

Michigan Compiled Law 750.360a identifies the different ways that this crime occurs:

  1. Being in possession of a bag that is either laminated or coated with the purpose of shielding merchandise from detection for the intent of attempting to steal or stealing can result in prosecution.