Alexander Robert Quintero of Tarpon Springs was arrested and charged with retail theft and unlawful possession of a concealed handcuff key after leaving a Sweetbay Supermarket with a rotisserie chicken. Quintero allegedly went into the grocery store and walked past all the registers as he took a $7.49 rotisserie chicken without paying for it. When he came back later that night to return a stick of deodorant, two store employees recognized him. While under arrest, investigators discovered a handcuff key disguised as part of a silver bracelet Quintero was wearing. He admitted it was his key that he used to detain a friend that “gets crazy sometimes.”
A very common situation for Jacksonville shoplifting accusations to occur is not when the act itself is said to occur, but when the accused returns to the store, either thinking they have gotten away with something unnoticed, or they have no clue that something slipped out of the store with them unnoticed by them and unpaid for. These are common situations that occur at grocery stores, as seen in the example above, or other highly frequented stores, such as gas stations and restaurants.
When a store employee or Loss Prevention Officer challenges one by asking one to return to the store because they think one lifted an item off the shelf without paying or deceptively switched the price tags, remember they are not police officers. They do not and will not have your best interests at heart; they work for the store and they have a bias. They will attempt to have one waive one’s rights by making a statement, either written or oral.
Because the procedure for loss prevention in many retail stores differs from proper police procedure, sometimes, the accused shoplifter may think that if they write a statement, the problem can be settled quickly without police involvement. All one does is dig oneself a bigger whole. One is not obligated to give store personnel any information. In many cases the police are called regardless of whether one actually cooperated with store personnel or whether one actually stole anything or not.
The following illustrates a very common and unfortunate situation where law abiding citizens are accused of shoplifting crimes:
A busy parent is shopping at Winn-Dixie with three young children. The parent is trying to watch the children while reading the shopping list or talking to their spouse. While turned away, the child picks up an item and places it in the shopping cart, eventually being covered up by something else, being lost from view. The parent pays for all the items they thought was in their cart and walks out the door, not knowing they failed to pay for everything in the basket. However, the parent is met at the door by loss prevention officers who accuse the parent of theft from their store.
Where one is grilled with questions from a loss prevention officer who automatically believes that one stole from the store or from a police officer arriving on scene that thinks one stole from the store, many times innocence is hard to prove. Regardless of one’s innocence, the officer will side with the store, many times because of all of the previous shoplifting cases they have seen.
Fortunately, if one is in such a situation like this and one obtains an experienced Jacksonville petty theft defense attorney, one’s attorney will be able to challenge the evidence against one, including witness testimony, questioning the conduct and manner of the arrest or search, or how evidence was handled by law enforcement.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.