A 15-year-old minor was caught shoplifting for $17.00 worth of goods at Walmart. The stolen items were returned and no charges were pursued. A 17-year-old was caught with $50 worth of goods at the same time. Criminal charges were filed against the 17-year-old. The Juvenile Justice has recommended a diversion program for this minor. Walmart has requested a $200 settlement. Should we pay? What are the chances that Walmart will sue for a misdemeanor theft after the merchandise was returned?
Many states allow for store owners to sue individuals to obtain damages resulting from a theft offense. It is common for a store to send a demand letter to the offender for reimbursement costs arising from the theft (shoplifting). For instance, the reimbursement would cover the cost to hire security personnel, or for investigating the theft.
If payment is not rendered within a reasonable time after receiving the demand letter, the store may initiate a civil cause of action against the shoplifter. The store must win a judgment against the shoplifter before any payment is required to be made. You should contact a local attorney for more information about laws pertaining to civil lawsuits for theft offenses.