What are your rights as a business owner when it comes to shoplifting?

Store thefts happen all the time in Chico, so much so that city leaders have organized a Retail Watch program to combat shoplifting.

Posted: Feb. 22, 2018 5:18 PM

Store thefts happen all the time in Chico, so much so that city leaders have organized a Retail Watch program to combat shoplifting.

Jeff Durkin is with the Chico Police Target Team; he says on Wednesday, a man walked into the Chico Walmart and stole a crossbow.

"If somebody is going to steal a weapon, that's obviously going to change the game as opposed to a candy bar or something," said Durkin.

Some businesses have a “hands-off” policy, meaning they don't allow employees to go after thieves because of safety concerns.

But others, like East Out West Gallery owner Charles Knipp will.

"There was a kid that stole a t-shirt, but I chased him down and retrieved it," he said.

But how far can employees go? First, you have to make sure the person is actually stealing something.

"Once they leave the store, they've completed the shoplifting, but sometimes in the store you get into that grey area," said Knipp.

And Durkin says you absolutely have a right to detain people.

"When I say detain people, to put your hands on somebody to prevent them from stealing your property."

He's not encouraging violence, but says it's well within your right to tackle someone and use physical force.

He also asks that businesses be willing to prosecute the thief and participate in the legal process, which Durkin says is free and easy.

"The last thing we want to do is have them call into the police department and the officers go out and find this individual, and they're like ‘no, no we don't want to prosecute with that.’"

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