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Store asking me to hand over my backpack before entering

Discussion in 'Justice System, Criminal Lawyers' started by Malene, Mar 3, 2016.

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  1. Malene

    Malene Law Topic Starter Guest

    Jurisdiction:
    New Mexico
    An couple of local stores have taken to intermittently ask me to hand over my backpack before entering the store to shop. I do not carry an purse and my backpack contains my ID, social security card, debit card, money and other personal belongings.

    I live far out in the country and have very limited stores to shop at - ergo, just shopping some place else is not simple.

    On principle it makes me quite angry to hand over my backpack to strangers, simply because they accuse me of stealing before I even walk in to the store. I have never stolen an thing, and I do not appreciate having to jeopardize my personal belongings in order to shop at their store.

    I assume it is legal for them to require this, as the store is private property.

    1. both stores that it has happened in do so intermittently. I often look poor because I am poor, and I assume they profile me and decide to harrass me in this way. Can I make an claim of discrimination against the store? They dont do it to everyone, ergo, they discriminate against me.

    2. If it is possible to make an discrimination claim against the stores, how would I go about doing that?

    3. What happens if I claim something went missing out of my backpack? IE, say I claim there was $50 that is now gone. What would happen if something really was missing? What would happen if I made it up? (yes, that would make me an asshole, maybe they shouldnt have been assholes to begin with)

    4. What would happen is I simply stand my ground, say no, and continue to shop as if nothing happened?

    Thanks in advance,
    Malene
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Correct.

    Looking poor is not a protected class under any anti-discrimination laws so you'll have no discrimination claim there. Now, if you were discriminated against because you looked like an ethnic minority, that would be another story.

    Easy. You would hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.
    Oh, probably an investigation, followed by a denial because all you'll have is an unproved allegation.

    You were doing fine until that stupid remark.

    From the store owner's point of view Step 1 would be to order you to leave, Step 2 would be to have you arrested for trespassing if you didn't.

    New Mexico statute 30-14-1 (in part):

    B. Criminal trespass also consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon the unposted lands of another knowing that such consent to enter or remain is denied or withdrawn by the owner or occupant thereof.

    New Mexico Statutes 30-14-1. Criminal trespass - LawServer

    My advice: Lock your backpack in your trunk (or leave it home) and put your keys and wallet in your pockets as they are all you need for shopping.

    It's one of life's little annoyances. Nobody's doing anything wrong to you. Get over it.
     
  3. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    I am a Retail theft consultant and answer question s like yours daily. If they dont do it all the time its either because the person at door failed to do so, feared doing so or had seen you before and felt you no risk. Its legal and its to protect store. If they single out only certain persons with backpacks that could be an issue so they ask you. You can shop elsewhere if this upsets you that much. Retailers lose over 15 Billion dollars each year to shoplifting alone so they take whatever measures they feel help reduce this lost. I teach stores means to protect their assets and this is one of them.
     
  4. Malene

    Malene New Member

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    THank you for your replies -

    I am considered "brown" in an very brown part of the country. Due to an adoption my exact heritage is hard to pin point without DNA. I am definitely not white, but exactly what I am is an mystery. (I have reason to believe middle eastern, russian Jew and Native American all figure in) The area I live in has 28% caucasians living here, although the employees of the stores in question seem to be 75-85% caucasian. I am significantly darker than most of the employees and the employees certainly does not look like an even representation of the people living in the area.

    I do not have the option of locking the backpack in my car. While I am lucky enough to borrow an neighbors car it is from 1969 and does not lock. I also have exceedingly limited shopping options living in the far out country.

    From what was said here I would have reason to be concerned that this practice on behalf of the stores could steal my ID and social security card - exposing me to identity theft. I cant leave the backpack in an car that cant lock. I dont have nearby stores to shop at other than those practising this BS. From what I understand the stores can as an matter of fact steal my personal papers and claim to not know anything about it - that is profoundly disturbing to me. I happen to know one of the stores at least have video pointed at the area that stores my backpack all the time. That at least offer some protection - although the principle of accusing me of stealing before I walk into the store is still abhorent. The other store can in fact steal my identity and tell me to go fuck myself.

    I suspect I will have to pursue it further with the manager of that store to see what type of protections they can offer me.

    To the gentleman in theft protection - I am sorry, I am sure it sucks for the stores that there are thieves. Lets not fool ourselves though, eventually the customers pay for it. I do not see any justification to treat people as if they are thieves just for walking in with an backpack. That is an unacceptable way to treat others, and excuses or explanations be damned. As far as these stores goes, in my mind, they deserve some legal problems for this kind of behavior. They are treating people like less than human, all while giving us an fuck finger, and should one of their employees steal from us - ups, sorry ma'am, we couldnt care less. But, I am supposed to care that people steal from them? Dont think so!

    As said before, I have never stolen anything in my life, never been accused of it either. I am being profiled in these stores - probably mainly for looking poor, although should I find someone who would help me file an suit I would happily make it about color. Given their employment practices, they probably are racist anyways.
     
  5. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    You already have your mine set so why bother. I can tell you (as I work in the field) customers are NOT repaying the 15 billion!! If your wearing pants put your wallet in your pocket and you should NEVER walk around with your social security card. I would also suggest you remove the "F" word from your post
     
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  6. Malene

    Malene New Member

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    "thank you for shopping at our store, we appreciate your business. Except, you probably are an thief just for walking in here, so we will treat you as such". Wow, the concern for the customer that keep them alive is astounding. Have I made up my mind that this is a shitty way to treat - anyone? Yes! You are right, I have. Maybe that should be part of the deliberations when stores make this choice - it is plain and simply rude, and it will piss off an lot of people. (just do an google search, people out there are pissed at this behavior)

    Just as you have made up your mind that it is ok to treat people in this manner, because, gasp some people steal. And of course the customers pay for the merchandise that is stolen - if the stores didnt make money they wouldnt be in business. I understand I am directly attacking your livelihood - you are making an living advising stores to behave in this manner. That would make it very difficult for you to wrap your head around why some feel it is an unacceptable way to treat others. (if this argument is hard for you to understand I suggest you do an google search on "cognitive dissonance, and then do some soul searching)

    Is there an legal argument I can make directly with this store that I believe it to be discrimination, and that is unacceptable?

    Is there an legal argument that I can make that I do not want to hand over my bag with personal papers, because I am more at risk of identity theft than they are of losing $5 worth of merchandise? Can I ask the store to sign an disclaimer that they take personal responsibility for the contents of my bag?
     
  7. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Malene, please watch your language.
     
  8. txls

    txls Well-Known Member

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    Leave the bag at home or leave the bag at the door of the store and remove any money and id cards.
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The store can eventually refuse to allow you to shop there, if you become combative, violent, curse, threaten, berate, or cause a disturbance.

    Furthermore, if you continue to behave improperly, you subject yourself to arrest.

    None of the things you cite would lead a court to believe you're being discriminated against because of your race, age, gender, religious persuasion, or ethnicity.

    You have the right to refuse the store's request to "hold" your backpack.

    If you assert that right, the store has the right to assert their right to ask you to leave.

    Should you refuse to leave, law enforcement might be called to ensure you leave.

    Your economic status has nothing to do with the store's choices.
    There's no legal argument you can make using your economic status to prevail.

    However, you, as do everyone of us; has the right to sue anyone for every perceived slight. Having that right doesn't mean you'll be successful in such a court battle. But, our laws allow you to sue.

    Until your state makes a backpack carry law, your ability to prevail in carrying your backpack into that store will continue to be thwarted.
     
  10. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    I earn my livelihood from people like you more than retailers so your wrong there. More people like you come to me than retailers do. Nothing being done is unlawful or civilly wrong. Kids have to give up back packs when they come in after school. Its a normal process because some people steal just like there is a lock on your front door for similar reasons. Customers come nowhere near paying back the 15 billion lost each year! Its clear you didnt come here for answers but someone to tell you what you want to hear. I am sorry we cant do that but I am sure there is someone who will somewhere
     
  11. d1amund

    d1amund Member

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    A: stop carrying your Social Security card with you. There is absolutely no reason to be carrying that around.

    B: if you need to shop at these stores due to them being the only option, you play by their rules. They aren't discriminating against you, they are protecting their assets in response to having theft occur in the past, likely by someone wearing a backpack! So, hand over the backpack and remove your wallet/keys/phone/iPod (or whatever else you value) while you shop. I'm sure there is nothing else of importance that the staff would be interested in taking.

    C: stop looking for reasons to make your life miserable and worrying about unwarranted law suits in hopes to better your position.

    postscript: are you the same person who "browses" but never buys while waiting on your Mom? This story seems very familiar.
     
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  12. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    While you might not steal, others do. It is extremely common to check large bags, purses, backpacks and the like when in stores or even entertainment venues. I have no idea why you would insist on bringing the backpack if this is an issue for you. Leave it home. A wallet will hold the essentials. While you are at it, take out the Social Security card. Your chances of a thief snagging the backpack from you while out and about or carjacking you in a car with no locks are FAR greater than some random store employee holding your belongings while you shop. 99 times in 100, the bag is kept where other employees can see it and or within security camera range. Make a false accusation of theft and the proof it did not happen (not to mention the police taking your backpack as part of the investigation and finding what you claim was stolen) will get YOU arrested. When shopping I am glad to leave large bags and packages with the employees as I don't have to lug them around the store. You do not need your backpack while shopping and you get it back when you need it to pay. Where is the harm? The more defensive you get the more you are sending the message that you are up to no good.

    You might have the "right" to walk into a bank wearing a ski mask with zero intention of robbing the place, but do not be surprised if you are mistaken for one or asked to remove the mask. Get defensive and given them a hard time about doing so and yes, they are going to think you are a criminal.
     
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  13. cynthiag

    cynthiag Active Member

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    Easy answer: get a small "crossbody" purse you can put your wallet, etc. in. You can carry it over your shoulder so your hands will be free to shop. Leave the backpack at home. Don't carry your SS card with you at all times...there is no reason to and common sense says it isn't a good idea.

    I have shopped in many stores where they had the policy of asking shoppers to leave all backpacks, large tote bags, and bags of goods purchased at other stores at the counter when entering. It's not uncommon.
     
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  14. Morden

    Morden New Member

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    My issue with this practice is that first off, it does drive away business. I've seen stores that have effective loss prevention teams that can do their job without making the customers feel uncomfortable. Many of them are friends of mine. I'm a paralegal and I've dealt with this myself on many occasions.

    What I do and suggest other do is use your phones record function and ask that if they are forcing you to hand over your backpack that they verbally agree to take responsibility for it while its in their care and replace any items that go missing or any damage that occurs while it's in their care. Thats only fair since they are concerned about their belongings you have as much right to be concerned about yours. Many times they will just tell you not to bother and allow you to go about your business.

    I would also suggest that if you know a lot of people in the community you encourage them to do the same so that the store knows if they refuse they stand to lose a lot of customers.

    Above all, don't be rude to them. Simply state your request in a direct manner and act accordingly on their response.

    Loss prevention is a tricky subject, I do understand that theft happens, but I also believe it's wrong to treat everyone like a potential thief. I have seen many loss prevention teams effectively monitor a store without making the customers feel monitored or uncomfortable.

    But as far as the bags, not everyone owns a car or takes a car to go shopping and in many cases I myself use a backpack to carry purchases because I have a disability in my hands and it's easier then holding onto a bag, plus I like to reduce the amount of plastic bags i use. So telling people to leave them in a car or at home is not always the easy answer it appears to be.
     
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  15. KatDini

    KatDini Well-Known Member

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    OP started this thread a year ago. If he/she/it have not solved their problem by now, what makes you think that this is going to help them? o_O
     
  16. Morden

    Morden New Member

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    So your unable to counter my points is what your saying? If not please do.
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    This site isn't set up to debate with you or others.
    If you wish to ask a question regarding US laws, please do so.
    But, don't debate, or attempt to exhibit your immense knowledge of the law.
    Why?
    No one cares how much you believe you know.
    We respond to specific questions.
    Don't post to old threads.
    Furthermore, you're from Ontario, Canada.
    We discuss US law for the most part, a few people know something about laws in a couple other nations, to mu knowledge Canada isn't one of those exceptions.

    Thread closed.
     
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