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My son, 17 years old, sixth form student, never been in any kind of trouble (not so much as a detention), comes from a good family, lives in a nice area. Though rather naïve for his age he thinks he knows it all; teenager syndrome. Went shopping in Leeds a few months ago with a friend. Starving, as only teenagers can be, they called into Boots to buy a sandwich. The queue was long and the hunger was deep so they hatched a plan: Eat the sandwich first and pay for it afterwards, after all that’s what people do in Restaurants …. and Tesco. (Tesco!). So they proceeded to go and sit on the steps outside the store with the honest intention of placing the £1.50 in the empty case and handing it to the cashier ahead of the queue. Simples. As they say.

 

Of course it didn’t help that his friend happens to be about the tallest black youth you have ever seen in your life so they were quickly apprehended by Security. The sandwich was recovered undamaged and presumeably either returned to the sheves - or consumed later by a policeman perhaps? We don't know.

 

The next five hours were spent alone (and unfed) in a Police cell, I was contacted but not allowed to see him or told anything other than where he was. Eventually, he was interviewed in the presence of a duty solicitor who (ill-)advised him to accept a caution in the interests of expediency. Being ignorant of the concept of mens rea he acquiesced.

 

Since then, numerous letters from RLP, the first letter demanding £137.50 (£110.00 if paid within 21 days). It was a standard letter obviously ignoring the fact that he was a 17 year-old schoolboy with neither means nor assets and not only did I consider it tantamount to intimidation and blackmail but it was out of all proportion to the alleged 'crime' for which he had already been dealt with somewhat harshly by the law.

 

I decided to ignore the letter but by the third one I caved in and wrote to them explaining that he was 17, had neither means nor assets, that I wasn’t able to settle on his behalf and that if it went to court he would need to be represented by a guardian and since that person was me then they would do better to address correspondance in my direction. They ignored me of course.

 

That was a couple of months ago, I was beginning to think they’d seen sense but today he received a letter from Opos Limited requesting payment of £137.50 on behalf of RLP. I assume Opos have a licence? Do these wretched people never give up? Are they entirely devoid of humanity and reason?

 

The upshot of all this that whilst I don’t care for myself this harassment is having a detrimental effect on my son and even more on my poor wife who would be prepared to pay up just to make the unpleasantness go away. I, on the other hand, don’t give in to bullies and would be quite happy to have my day in court.

 

So, can anyone offer any advice on dealing with the harassment please? Thank you.

 

 

(Incidentally, the other lad’s parents paid up, (hmmm) and as far as my family is concerned, Boots is somewhere we’ll never shop again.)

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Firstly, OPOS is a debt collection agency, but there is no debt! RLP are trying to claim costs and damages from your son, but until they have taken him to court these have not been established. I would also take this to mean that RLP have given up on getting any money from your son, and have passed it on to OPOS to let them try. Ignore!

 

That aside, your son is a sixth former, and presumably bright, so why would he leave a shop with goods he hasn't paid for? Given this scenario, what would you expect the security guard to do? The advice from the duty solicitor was sound, imo. If he didn't accept a caution then the police would have to charge him with theft, then let the court decide. I would think the evidence would weigh heavily against him, regardless of his intentions.

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Sorry eyeinthesky, but I completely disagree! Teenagers in their wisdom perhaps do see themselves as invincible!.....there was a queue....'lets eat our sandwich and then leave the wrapper at the front of the queue with the money in it! Two birds with one stone.........belly full and no queue to contend with!'

 

I think its about time a human approach was taken......life isn't black and white and RLP have NO RIGHT to label everyone common theives!! Every case is different and shoudl be judged on it's own merit.

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Sorry eyeinthesky, but I completely disagree! Teenagers in their wisdom perhaps do see themselves as invincible!.....there was a queue....'lets eat our sandwich and then leave the wrapper at the front of the queue with the money in it! Two birds with one stone.........belly full and no queue to contend with!'

 

I think its about time a human approach was taken......life isn't black and white and RLP have NO RIGHT to label everyone common theives!! Every case is different and shoudl be judged on it's own merit.

 

Feel free to disagree, but this was not what they did! They left the store without paying. Had they eaten the sandwiches while in the queue, although still wrong, would probably have been a different outcome.

It's not RLP who are branding them as thieves, it's Boots security and the police. RLP only act on information recieved from their clients.

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Yes, perhaps in hindsight.......could of, should of, would of........but again, things aren't always black and white. They ate the sandwich sitting on steps outside....if they were stealing would they not have tried to get as far away from the store as possible??

 

And why is it wrong to eat a sandwich in a queue?? As a mother of two young children, I often feed my kiddies going round the supermarket to keep them amused or keep them quiet or to keep them from bickering with each other......the list is endless!

 

Stores have every right to prevent theft from their stores, but the law requires them to enforce that right only by employing competent, vigilant staff who can distinguish between shoplifters and honest shoppers.

 

The price of getting it wrong should be as high for bullying security staff as it is for their victims.

 

This country has gone politically correct mad!!!

Edited by Button1

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That aside, your son is a sixth former, and presumably bright, so why would he leave a shop with goods he hasn't paid for? Given this scenario, what would you expect the security guard to do? The advice from the duty solicitor was sound, imo. If he didn't accept a caution then the police would have to charge him with theft, then let the court decide. I would think the evidence would weigh heavily against him, regardless of his intentions.

 

Yes, bright in some ways but not in others. He didn't leave the vicinity of the shop, he wanted to sit down to eat so sat on the shop's steps, didn't walk off, still had the £1.50 in his hand. It was stupid by any adult's standards but this boy isn't streetwise in any way whatsoever. I asked him why he didn't leg it, his answer; he didn't think he was doing anything wrong.

 

I would have advised him not to accept a caution, I don't think it would have got as far as court and I'm certain if it had the case would have been dismissed. He's a decent lad with no vice in him whatsoever, anyone can see that. Almost anyone.

 

That's what makes me angry. People all down the line not being able to tell the difference, if he had stolen or been intending to steal I'd be the first to condemn his behaviour, but really, he's just a silly teenage boy.

 

Anyway, I must say I'm intrigued by the Opos intervention, they say:

"Our clients Retail Loss Prevention have advised us that you were found to have committed a wrongful act on their clients BOOTS THE CHEMIST premises which caused them to suffer a financial loss. As BOOTS THE CHEMIST partakes in a Civil Recovery Program you are liable for the following compensation costs; £137.50 which must now be paid immediately, in full, directly to Opos Ltd."

 

So, Opos, on behalf of RLP, on behalf of Boots. I am left wondering why the claim hasn't escalated and, if I paid, how the spoils would be shared out, how much would Boots actually receive for their 'loss', if anything? Maybe Boots are only interested in a perceived punitive/deterrent effect?

 

Still, not paying, half inclined to write another nice letter explaining the situation and half inclined to write a tirade of foul-mouthed abuse. Any point complaining to Boots?

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Yes, perhaps in hindsight.......could of, should of, would of........but again, things aren't always black and white. They ate the sandwich sitting on steps outside....if they were stealing would they not have tried to get as far away from the store as possible??

They didn't get as far as eating the sandwich, it was recovered undamaged, they were stopped for leaving without paying.

 

And why is it wrong to eat a sandwich in a queue?? As a mother of two young children, I often feed my kiddies going round the supermarket to keep them amused or keep them quiet or to keep them from bickering with each other......the list is endless!

An item does not belong to you until you pay for it, why would it be ok to eat it? Parents with small children can either bring something with them for the children, or buy some snacks before continuing with their shopping. If the fire alarm sounds then shoppers can simply leave their trolleys or baskets, but if items have been eaten then you will leave without paying.

 

Stores have every right to prevent theft from their stores, but the law requires them to enforce that right only by employing competent, vigilant staff who can distinguish between shoplifters and honest shoppers.

How exactly are they to do this? The biggest distinction between honest shoppers and shoplifters, is that shoplifters leave without paying. The goods are not always concealed, in fact, walking out with an item in plain view is a well known shoplifting technique.

 

The price of getting it wrong should be as high for bullying security staff as it is for their victims.

I don't see where they got it wrong, they are employed to stop people from walking out without paying. The police obviously agreed that a theft had taken place, although I am surprised that they dealt with it in the way that they did, instead of just a verbal warning.

 

This country has gone politically correct mad!!!

I don't see the relevance to this case.

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Once again eyeinthesky, I completely disagree! I am a law obiding citizen and shoplifting/theft/dishonesty doesn't come into my thinking. This is perhaps why I see things from a different point of view.

 

You are reading from a text book.....an ideal world scenario whereby every mother is organised, regimented and fully prepared with snacks, goodies etc to feed her little darlings whilst going round the supermarket! Only in the movies im afraid!

 

Walking out in plain view with an item might well be a well known shoplifting technique.........but to an honest shopper this is otherwise known as A MISTAKE!!!!

Edited by Button1

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Any point complaining to Boots?

 

Epistolis, Boots are the first link in this awful chain of events - they are the ones who commission and employ RLP therefore the buck lies with them.

 

Quote from RLP's website..........

You are notified that the personal information we hold may be used in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), to make employment decisions, decisions regarding the provision of credit and for the purposes of crime prevention and detection. Access to the information may be available to the Claimant, the Courts, legal advisors and RLP, where there is a legitimate reason for doing so in accordance with the Act.

 

Your son is a 17 year old.....the implications of being on a dishonesty database could be catastrophic for him! This is far worse than any monies they are trying to recover. Were you aware of this?

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Once again eyeinthesky, I completely disagree! I am a law obiding citizen and shoplifting/theft/dishonesty doesn't come into my thinking. This is perhaps why I see things from a different point of view.

 

You are reading from a text book.....an ideal world scenario whereby every mother is organised, regimented and fully prepared with snacks, goodies etc to feed her little darlings whilst going round the supermarket! Only in the movies im afraid!

 

Walking out in plain view with an item might well be a well known shoplifting technique.........but to an honest shopper this is otherwise known as A MISTAKE!!!!

 

I too am a law abiding citizen, and although not a security guard I do work in retail. This is perhaps why I see things from a different point of view.

I personally spotted 15 shoplifters last week, ages ranging from 10 years old to 35 years old.

 

I am not reading from any textbook, but from my own experience as a parent and grandparent. Both my children, long ago, and grandchildren now, are allowed to choose sweets and snacks, but are not allowed to open these until they are paid for. This helps to teach them right from wrong at an early age, something, I hope, they will not forget. So...not only in the movies.

 

Finally, you didn't answer my question, how on earth are security staff to know that someone is not stealing when they leave without paying?

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Simple..................by not just assuming everyone is a thief!! People make mistakes and shoppers can easily be distracted by everyday events/surroundings. Are you therefore making the assumption that the security guard is always right??.......... are security guards from a higher plane than us mere mortal shoppers??........never making errors of judgement or getting it wrong??

 

And there are lots of examples of when consumers pay for goods/services after the event............so next time I take my son for a haircut or lunch with friends (both of which I'm sure you will agree request payment after the said event), I will INSIST upon paying in advance so as to ensure my children are brought up as law abiding citizens thus escaping the wrath of higher than thou security guards.

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Epistolis, as I said in my first post, just ignore these letters. You may get a few more yet, but I think it will go away if you refuse to respond. RLP have passed this on instead of going to court, I don't think OPOS will go to court either, especially as there is no debt to collect. The demand for money from RLP is a claim for civil damages and costs, and as such they are required to attempt to get an agreed settlement. This is the route they have to take before filing in court. If one of the parties refuses to negotiate a solution, then RLP can claim in the small claims court.

 

This seems to be usual way with RLP, to pass it on to a debt collector. If they are so sure they are right, why don't they take it to court?

 

I have searched online, but cannot find anyone who has been taken to court by RLP. Perhaps someone else here knows better?

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Epistolis, as I said in my first post, just ignore these letters. You may get a few more yet, but I think it will go away if you refuse to respond. RLP have passed this on instead of going to court, I don't think OPOS will go to court either, especially as there is no debt to collect. The demand for money from RLP is a claim for civil damages and costs, and as such they are required to attempt to get an agreed settlement. This is the route they have to take before filing in court. If one of the parties refuses to negotiate a solution, then RLP can claim in the small claims court.

 

This seems to be usual way with RLP, to pass it on to a debt collector. If they are so sure they are right, why don't they take it to court?

 

I have searched online, but cannot find anyone who has been taken to court by RLP. Perhaps someone else here knows better?

 

Sorry eyeinthesky, but it's just one of those days where I have to disagree with you again!! In my opinion, the financial aspect is the least of the OP's worries! What about the implications of the database??? This could have huge detrimental effects on his son's future job prospects amongst other things. Ignoring the letters will not make this go away! His son will most probably already be on their 'defenders' database.

 

I can't remember the name of the other company (begins with C - cireque or something) but perhaps someone could post it here and the OP could have a look - if he doesn't already know about it, this will shock his socks off!

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Sorry eyeinthesky, but it's just one of those days where I have to disagree with you again!! In my opinion, the financial aspect is the least of the OP's worries! What about the implications of the database??? This could have huge detrimental effects on his son's future job prospects amongst other things. Ignoring the letters will not make this go away! His son will most probably already be on their 'defenders' database.

 

I can't remember the name of the other company (begins with C - cireque or something) but perhaps someone could post it here and the OP could have a look - if he doesn't already know about it, this will shock his socks off!

 

I agree with much of what you say but I can't see a solution, the database isn't going to go away whatever happens, pay and be damned or don't pay and be damned. Paying isn't an option because it would be an admission of guilt where there is no guilt.

 

I am not overly concerned about the database but perhaps I should be? Would he not be off it by the time he was 23? After three years at uni and a couple of gap years he'll be there (with a big government debt!).

Edited by Epistolis
intonation

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Epistolis, as I said in my first post, just ignore these letters. You may get a few more yet, but I think it will go away if you refuse to respond. RLP have passed this on instead of going to court, I don't think OPOS will go to court either, especially as there is no debt to collect. The demand for money from RLP is a claim for civil damages and costs, and as such they are required to attempt to get an agreed settlement. This is the route they have to take before filing in court. If one of the parties refuses to negotiate a solution, then RLP can claim in the small claims court.

 

This seems to be usual way with RLP, to pass it on to a debt collector. If they are so sure they are right, why don't they take it to court?

 

I have searched online, but cannot find anyone who has been taken to court by RLP. Perhaps someone else here knows better?

 

Thank you for your response, I hope you are right. In any case I would rather have a day in court than support these people in their foul trade.

 

At least my son now has an inkling of how minor events can have major implications and although I suspect he doesn't quite grasp the enormity of it five hours in a cell won't have done any harm!

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I am not reading from any textbook, but from my own experience as a parent and grandparent. Both my children, long ago, and grandchildren now, are allowed to choose sweets and snacks, but are not allowed to open these until they are paid for. This helps to teach them right from wrong at an early age, something, I hope, they will not forget. So...not only in the movies.

quote]

 

My own experience as a parent suggests that you can do your very best to bring them up on the straight and narrow but they invariably get to an age where they place more faith and trust in their peers than their parents.

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RLP are very wrong. No way did it cost Boots £137 x 2 for one sandwich. However, the lads did actually shoplift in the eyes of the law, even though that may not have been their intention.

 

The law is very black and white. The lads fell foul of it.

 

And as regards to picking up things and eating them in the supermarket, I've known since I was 4 years old that this is a no no - this is 43 years ago now mind you - my mother picked me up bodily from the trolley, tipped me upside down and banged my back to force me to spit out the sweets I had pinched off a shelf. And just to make sure I had learnt the lesson she almost took the side of my face off (well it felt like it to me at that age) and that was how I learnt not to eat things in supermarkets without paying for them!

 

Whats done is done. No you shouldn;t pay a penny to RLP over this - they are sheer peasants. But I also hope the lads realise why this has happened.

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So your advice would be to give in to the blackmailers? I don't understand where you are coming from or what your solution would be.

 

I am not overly concerned about the database but perhaps I should be? Would he not be off it by the time he was 23? After three years at uni and a couple of gap years he'll be there.

 

No, my advice would most certainely not to give into the blackmailers! Not in the slightest!! But ignoring it, in my opinion, won't make this situation go away. Yes, RLP claim that a 'defenders' details will be kept on their database for 6 years.........but can you honestly believe what they say?? What if they sell on their information to another party with a vested interest in the data?? Who knows what information will be circulating out there! They have already passed your info on to another party, namely Opos.

 

Think about the implications if a large insurance company bought rights to this data...........your insurance could be cancelled/declared void at renewal because you have someone on a dishonesty database living at your address. Yes, perhaps I am worst case scenario, but they cannot get away with what they are doing. So, no, my advice is not to give in, but to stand up and fight.

Edited by Button1

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My children certainely do not 'pinch' sweets. I will give them a bit of a large french bread stick or similar. They don't eat sweets except after a meal as any parent with a keen interest in good dental health should know.

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It makes me really mad to see kids eating crisps, sweets chocolates or drinking from cans whilst their parents are still shopping in supermarkets.

People don't seem to appreciate that it is theft as the goods haven't been paid for yet.

 

I'm sure there are many parents who see nothing wrong in this and always pay for the consumed goods at the till. I know, as I'm sure many of the readers here will also know, that there are plenty of people who don't as witnessed by empty cans and wrappers stuffed into gaps on other shelves.

 

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular scenario, there seems to be no relationship between the cost of the item and the amount being sought here.

 

As the Police have issued a caution rather than prosecuting for theft, I would have thought a sincere apology accompanied by full payment would suffice here. Its quite ridiculous to suggest that Boots require compensation of £137 for a sandwich that wasn't even consumed.

 

I'm a little confused about the caution though as I believed that you need to be 18 to receive a Police caution, under this age Police issue reprimands which remain on the police database until the 18th birthday and can be used in court in the event of future court proceedings. Remember that Tony Blair's son received a reprimand following his drinking binge and his mum's a highly respected QC. I'm sure that if it was likely to have had a long-lasting effect Ms Booth would have done something about it.

 

RLP may also be committing an offence under section 42 of the DPA by disclosing the data to a third party for a reason other than for the one it was collected for. I can see how disclosure to OPOS could be legal but an insurance company certainly cannot purchase rights to this data. Even if they could, it would have no bearing on your insurance as the data isn't about you.

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Button1, I think I detect a note of annoyance in your posts, if I have wound you up I apologise, it was certainly not my intention. Wouldn't it be boring if we all agreed with each other all the time?

I do not assume that security guards are always right, or superior in any way, but they have a job to do. They may not always do it well, but who in this world is infallable? As said earlier in this thread, people make mistakes.

There are, of course, businesses where we recieve goods or services, then pay for them after, but these are invariably recieved on the premises. We can't usually leave without paying, then come back when it suits us.

Retail theft cost UK businesses £2.2 billion in 2003, with around half of the money lost, used to fund drug habits. I can't find any later figures, but shouldn't think it has dropped much in subsequent years. Do businesses just swallow these losses? Sadly, no! They pass on these losses to you and I, the customers. No surprise then that they have guards and cctv systems to reduce these figures.

I don't think RLP can sell data to third parties, but maybe another forum member will be more informed about the Data Protection Act. Interestingly, RLP have been changing bits of their website. They now have the "largest database of civil recovery defendants", where they used to have the "largest database of dishonest people outside the police" (or something like that!). Their own statement about that database has changed too, they now say "Access to the information may be available to the Claimant, the Courts, legal advisors and RLP, where there is a legitimate reason for doing so in accordance with the Act". I am sure that used to say that employers could search the database before making an offer of employment. Taking that statement, I can't see where it would do anyone any harm, if access is restricted to a claimant, courts and legal advisors.

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Something just occurred to me, when there are 2 people involved in a "theft", and this is reported to RLP for civil recovery action, then both parties are held responsible, jointly and severally, for the compensation claim. If 1 of the parties has paid RLP, then they have had their claim settled in full. As the friend of the OP's son has paid, (or his family has), then the claim for damages has been met. RLP would surely not seek recompense twice, ......would they?

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Eyeinthesky, no don't worry, you haven't upset me! Quite the oposite! I do enjoy a good debate and am glad you do too! It's good to hear others opinions......this is hopefully how we learn and grow!

 

Rickyd and Eyeinthesky, I have had numerous telephone conversations recently regarding RLP and their use of data but am still no expert on the subject so hopefully one of the other forum users will come into this conversation and give their opinion. From what I am gathering though, it is deemed to be potentially very harmfull indeed.

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I often wander round Tescos or stand ing the queue chomping away at a mini pork pie or scotch egg that Ive just picked off the shelf, I give the wrapper with the bar code to the astonished checkout-chick, pay, collect the receipt and walk out.

 

(I once worked at Tescos and was told that as long as stuff was paid for before leaving the store, they werent bothered.)

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I'm a little confused about the caution though as I believed that you need to be 18 to receive a Police caution, under this age Police issue reprimands which remain on the police database until the 18th birthday

 

Yes, you are absolutely right, it was a reprimand not a caution. As a layman I failed to make the distinction.

 

Something just occurred to me, when there are 2 people involved in a "theft", and this is reported to RLP for civil recovery action, then both parties are held responsible, jointly and severally, for the compensation claim. If 1 of the parties has paid RLP, then they have had their claim settled in full. As the friend of the OP's son has paid, (or his family has), then the claim for damages has been met. RLP would surely not seek recompense twice, ......would they?

 

I hadn't thought of that!

 

More details, I thought I'd add a breakdown of the claim:

 

1. Value of un-recovered (or unfit for resale) goods/monies/services: £0.00

2. Staff/Management time investigating and/or dealing with incident: £82.50

3. Administration costs resulting from your wrongful actions: £24.75

4. Apportioned security & surveillance costs: £30.25

Total £137.50, £110.00 if paid within 21 days.

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