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Civil action raised for wrongful shoplifting charge!!

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Hi Everyone

 

I'm new to the board and would like to say hello to everyone, I hope you can help. My partner visited an H&M store during her lunch hour. She had one item that she was purchasing and she was looking at a pair of sandals. Because she only had 10 minutes left, instead of trying the sandals on, she took out a sandal that she had in her bag to see if the sandals were the same size.

 

The sandal that she pulled out of her bag were in fact purchased from H&M some 2 years previous and it was quite clear from looking at them that they were well worn. My partner decided not to buy the sandals and went to the till to purchase the one item after placing her sandal back in her bag. At the till, a security guard approached her and took her into the back of the shop at which point he charged her for shoplifting. Despite my partner protesting and requesting that he look at the sandals, the security guard told her to wait in a room on her own. She was there for 3 hours before being picked up by police.

 

Upon getting to the station, my partner again tried to advise them of the mistake but the officers stated that they were not dealing with the matter and that she would have to save it until she is interviewed. A further 4 hours passed when she finally was interviewed. She immediately advised the interviewing officers of the error and showed them the sandals. The officers left the room and within 5 minutes they returned advising all charges had been dropped.

 

I told my partner to write a complaint about the whole thing but did she? No she didn't :evil:. She has since received a letter from Judge and Priestley Solicitors advising that she now has to pay £150.00 costs!! She sent a letter with the discharge note given by the police and explained the situation. We have received another letter which basically shows that they didn't even bother to read her letter and that they were proceeding regardless.

 

I really don't think she should pay this charge. My partner is not a person that would even consider shoplifting. Please help!!

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Tell them to bring it on if they think they have the slightest chance of succeeding in their action and not to bother writing again unless it's with an actual claim form.

 

Chances of them actually taking it to court: Zilch to 0.001. Chances of them succeeding if they were to be suicidal enough to try: Zilch.

 

These people rely on threats to try and get money out of people like your girfriend. Fight back and they'll cower.

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Thanks for the reply. I know what you mean. I can understand them wanting to deter shoplifters but this is ridiculous! The latest letter we have received is from an american law firm called Palmer, Reifler and Associates. As anyone had any dealing with this company?

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It is quite a lengthy letter, 3 pages in total, but it doesn't refer to anthing written by my partner in her previous letter. It basically states that their client is entitled to pursue costs for theft/attempted theft even if the goods are placed back on the shelf for resale. What they don't seem to understand is that she didn't take anything.

 

The security guard who pulled her up for the suspected shoplifting didn't even check her for goods, didn't search her bag, her pockets. He just put her in a room and left hor there for the police. My partner said that the police looked a little miffed in the interview, especially when she took out the old sandals that she had been pulled in for.

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It would be interesting to see a scanned copy of the letter, suitably edited to remove your personal details.

 

A spot of googling reveals that this US firm have a reputation similar to RLP's in cases like this.

 

However, a little more digging reveals this lot: TLPC, who cite Palmer, Reifler & Associates as a 'strategic partner'. I wonder if they are connected with this case. Even if not, they seem to be worth a look.

 

Although TLPC give an address in Norfolk, their details are shown at Companies House as:

 

THE LOSS PREVENTION COMPANY LIMITED

CAMBRIDGE HOUSE

16 HIGH STREET

SAFFRON WALDEN

ESSEX

UNITED KINGDOM

CB10 1AX

Company No. 06380126

 

They are recorded as a dormant company whose returns are overdue. Their website is in breach of the Companies Act 2006 for failing to show their Registered Office address. They are not registered as data controllers with ICO.

 

Their parent company appears to be Cardinal Group security, another company that appears to struggle with its legal obligations as far as data processing and the Companies Act is concerned.

 

It will come as no surprise that there is no trace of Palmer, Reifler & Associates on the ICO database; they do not appear on the Law Society database, so one would have to question whether they are entitled to practice here, although there are references to them wanting to open a London office.

 

Judge and Priestley, incidentally, are solicitors who claim to specialise in debt recovery; they do some work for 1st Credit. Their efforts appear to be limited to sending template threat letters.

 

I've come across cases of US law firms trying it on in a similar way with people selling second-hand stuff on eBay; bizarrely, some of them appear to think that they can apply US law in other countries. I'd either just ignore them, or ask them to prove that they are qualified and entitled to practice in GB.

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SP I have asked PVD2009 to email me

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You have an extremely strong case to sue the company.

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Would the OP's partner be entitled to sue H&M for the afternoon of work lost/damage to reputation at work and perhaps wrongful arrest?

 

approx 8 hours when all anyone at any point of the proceedings had to do was look at the sandals....

 

The Pirate Bay had some wonderful example letters to US Lawyers regarding how US law affects countries outside of the United States, ie not at all.


[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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I remembered reading something years ago that your post reminded me of and although it took a few hours, I eventually found it.

It is in reference to file sharing, but I think it's very relevent to you so have posted it below:

 

I don't care what side of the fence you sit on with regards to file sharing, any moral high ground is lost when the fringes of the law are used as a bullying tactic. Either take them to court or shut up. I'm not a lawyer (not full time anyway) but it seems to me the only reason to state you are working under civil law is because it would be illegal to threaten someone for money under criminal law. After all, would that not constitute blackmail (give me £500 or I'll tell the cops)?

 

I hope it's of some use.

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Would the OP's partner be entitled to sue H&M for the afternoon of work lost/damage to reputation at work and perhaps wrongful arrest?

 

approx 8 hours when all anyone at any point of the proceedings had to do was look at the sandals....

 

The Pirate Bay had some wonderful example letters to US Lawyers regarding how US law affects countries outside of the United States, ie not at all.

 

Ha..the good old Pirate Bay letters make me giggle especially when they start getting rather offensive..:)

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Perhaps a letter to H&M head office might bring some results or local media ?

 

Of course suing them might well be an option, perhaps a visit to a solicitor for a quick free half hour might help ?

 

Andy

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the security guard told her to wait in a room on her own. She was there for 3 hours before being picked up by police.
Was this mentioned to the police?

 

Section 24 of PACE allows for any person powers of arrest, under very exacting conditions, but not of detention for such a ridiculous length of time.

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They can only detain someone for a maximum of 30mins until the police arrive If the police are not going to arrive within that time, or at all, they must release that person 3 hours detention by a civilian security guard amounts to kidnap & false imprisonment

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Thanks for all the info. My partner just wanted out of the cell so when they let her out after she had shown them the sandals, she was just relieved it was over (or so she thought). I emailed you last night JonCris with the post, did you receive?

 

I could email you a copy of the letter if you would like to take a look?

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PVD Yes. please remember they DO read this forum

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If your partner was left in a room on her own,was there anything from stopping her leaving then,if there was no one with her? Just interested as this is a terrible case.

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Sorry JonCris, i'm new to all this.

 

I believe that the staff room where security were gathered was across from the room she was in. She is quite timid, especially in tricky situations so unlike me, she would have frozen even though she had done nothing wrong.

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You have a serious case for compensation from either H&M or the company that supplies the security officer. Make enquiries and contact them. Tell them you will go to the press with this if they fail to correspond.

 

A security officer can hold anyone they believe to be guilty of an offence until the officer arrives, whether that be 30 minutes or 30 hours.....there is some really poor advice given out on this forum.

 

Section 24 of PACE does not exist anymore, it has been replaced by SOCAP 2005, again, poor advice given out.

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Billy a civilian security office cannot hold a person indefinitely. The time detained MUST be reasonable & can only happen if the police have been summoned also 3 hours detention in such circumstances isn't reasonable it amounts to kidnap

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So, if i catch someone breaking into your house, and the police cant come right away, I have to let them go after 30 minutes.....ridiculous!!!

 

Where is this code laid out??

If no offence has been commited, and I ramble on about this a lot, then there should be no detention. If a crime has been commited, then they are held until a constable arrives, if that is 3 hours, then that is a problem for the police and not a security officer. It is the police that must deal with it in a timely manner, not a security officer.

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Victims have been arrested, charged & convicted of both kidnap & false imprisonment for detaining burglars & vandals or don't you read the press or listen to the news

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If no offence has been commited, and I ramble on about this a lot, then there should be no detention. If a crime has been commited, then they are held until a constable arrives, if that is 3 hours, then that is a problem for the police and not a security officer. It is the police that must deal with it in a timely manner, not a security officer.

 

Since when are RLP interested in establishing whether or not a crime has been commited?

 

In this case, they didn't even look in the ladys bag!!

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Section 24 of PACE does not exist anymore, it has been replaced by SOCAP 2005, again, poor advice given out.
S24 exists, inasmuch as it was amended by section 110 of SOCPA, with the insertion of Section 24A "Arrest without warrant: other persons ".

 

As theft is indictable, the power of arrest available to security guards is unchanged.

 

Section 25 of PACE (general arrest conditions) is repealed.

 

You might wish to argue the toss that no arrest was made, as the OP's partner was compliant in waiting for the police to arrive, but I wouldn't like to rely on that myself.

 

You're bang on the money as far as bad advice, however.

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