Saturday, July 15, 2006

... but will Wal-Mart
really change anything in Florida?

Abandoning its zero-tolerance policy, Wal-Mart reportedly has told workers not to stop shoplifters for items under $25. Read more here.

Is the policy shift evidence that Wal-Mart has a heart? Not exactly. Wal-Mart's loss prevention director admits the change is a cost-saving measure. “If I have somebody being paid $12 an hour processing a $5 theft, I have just lost money,” said J.P. Suarez. “I have also lost the time to catch somebody stealing $100 or an organized group stealing $3,000.”

Florida has a statute called “Civil remedy for theft or exploitation” which allows people to file civil lawsuits seeking to recover losses from criminal activities. But it's a sword-and-shield kind of thing, as we lawyers say. It does provide protection for some people, but a lot of retail businesses have used it as a weapon.

Because the minimum damages are $200, the penalty can be 10 times the value of a stolen CD. The store got the item back when the kid was caught, but still was looking for the $200 in so-called damages. When they got the "civil demand letter," many parents paid, of course, to keep their child out of juvenile court.

It's ugly, but it's profitable. So will Wal-Mart stop this exploitation, too?

Cross-posted at the Florida Progressive Coalition.


At 8:05 PM, Blogger Anonymous Law Student said...

Wal-Mart will never stop exploiting people. Plenty of businesses have shown that they can do really well and not only behave ethically, but be positive influences on the communities that are in....but Wal-Mart is nothing more than a blight.

At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new policy doesn't state WM will not stop people shoplifitng less than $25. It states they will not prosecute thefts less than $25, they will continue to stop shoplifters regardless of the amounts stolen. Civil recovery laws in most states including Florida don't require prosecution to gain restitution for the amount lost.


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