Mall security followed a suspicious shopper in a JCPenny Department Store. The suspect selected 4 bottles of perfume, 4 pairs of shoes and 2 purses. The shopper then entered the dressing room with the items and then exited with nothing. Security personnel immediately examined the dressing room and found it empty. The suspect proceeded to the exit door and made no attempt to pay for the concealed items. Mall security stopped the shopper and the Police were called. The Defendant attempted to heist almost $700 worth of merchandise and was facing a felony Grand Theft charge.
Grand Theft Charges in Florida
Grand theft can be charged in Florida when property that is valued at $300 or more is taken with intent. This is a felony charge in which one could serve jail time, probation, fines and more.
Rights of Mall Security
Mall security is not hired by the state or county like police officers and sheriffs are. They are employed by the establishment they watch over, such as a mall. Mall security is an integral part of the shopping center. They are hired to:
- Promote safety
- Emergency response
- Assist customers
- Patrol the property
- Maintain order
- Prevent criminal activity
Mall security must follow the protocol that is set forth by law. As they are not police officers, they can not do certain things. Many times they do not have any more power than a customer does. Here are things that mall security can and cannot do.
- Use a reasonable amount of force to detain a shoplifter
- Make arrests
Force should only be used when absolutely necessary. Excessive force should never be used by any security in any place, such as a mall or shopping center.
A mall security guard can only make an arrest under certain conditions. If they believe there are reasonable grounds for arrest. For the arrest to be legal, the guard must believe they are preventing the person from harming others, harming himself, or causing a loss or damage of property.
They may not:
- Search you or your bags with your permission to do so
- Take your personal possessions from you
- Ask you to leave the premises due to your race, age, sex, sexuality, or a disability
- Make you go anywhere unless you have been arrested
- Ask you to leave a public place
Mall security cannot search you, even if there is a sign hanging up that states “search is a condition of entry”. The only time they can search a person’s belongings are when the person leaves the item in a suspicious manner, or the person is unconscious and the security is trying to identify them.
RESULT: The Defense Attorney entered into negotiations with the Prosecution over the details of the Client’s case. The Defense obtained a generous deal from the State and the Court found NO FORMAL FINDING OF GUILT on the Client’s felony Grand Theft charge!