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Oceanside, California 92054
United States of America
Phone: (310) 490-3697
Map of Location
TO ARREST TRAINING MANUAL
A SUSPECT UNDER THE MERCHANTíS PRIVILEGE RULE
The Merchantís Privilege Rule is found in the California Penal Code Section 490.5.
Subdivisions (f) and (g) of this statute provide legal authority for a merchant or their employee
or agent, including a security officer, to detain persons suspected of shoplifting in a retail store.
In part, the law says that:
ď(f)(1) A merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time for the purpose of
conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner whenever the merchant has probable
cause to believe the person to be detained is attempting to unlawfully take or has
unlawfully taken merchandise from the merchantís premises.
(2) In making the detention a merchant may use a reasonable amount of non-deadly force
necessary to protect himself or herself and to prevent escape of the person detained or the
loss of property.
(3) During the period of detention any items which a merchant has probable cause to
believe were unlawfully taken from the premises of the merchant and which are in plain
view may be examined by the merchant for purposes of ascertaining the ownership
(4) A merchant or an agent thereof, having probable cause to believe the person detained
was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any item from the premises, may request
the person detained to voluntarily surrender the item. Should the person detained refuse
to surrender the item of which there is probable cause to believe has been unlawfully
taken from the premises, or attempted to be unlawfully taken from the premises, a limited
and reasonable search may be conducted by those authorized to make the detention in
order to recover the item. Only packages, shopping bags, handbags or other property in
the immediate possession of the person detained, but not including any clothing worn by
the person, may be searched pursuant to this subdivision. Upon surrender or discovery of
the item, the person detained may also be requested, but may not be required, to provide
adequate proof of his or her true identity.Ē
The important things to remember when working for a retail merchant are:
1. That a suspected shoplifter can be detained where there is reasonable cause to believe
that the suspect has unlawfully taken or attempted to take an item from the store. This is
not an arrest, but merely a detention in order to investigate further the reasonable belief
a theft has occurred or was attempted.
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