Self-checkout stands have overrun grocery stores, and it's lead to an uptick in stores posting employees are exits to check customer receipts. But can a store employee in Texas legally detain you?

Last week I stopped by Walmart Marketplace on my way home after work. It's a store I frequent and it's now approximately 95% of time exclusively self-checkout. This time, though, after I shopped, checked myself out and made my way toward the exit, this one wild dude asked to see my bags and receipt.


Sure, I was offended. ME? I'm not stealing. But I didn't make a big deal, I showed him my stuff, he cleared me, and I walked out the door and went home.

But that got me thinking, was that legal? Is it even legal for a Walmart employee to stop someone they think is shoplifting in Texas? Can any store legally detain you?

From The Clark Law Firm, here's what you should know:

There is a legal concept in place called “Shopkeeper's Privilege” that allows store owners and security guards to search and detain individuals. However, the shopkeeper and their agents have legal responsibility to ensure that their suspicions are reasonable, or else they may be liable for false imprisonment.

This Shopkeepers Privilege "allows store employees to briefly detain suspected shoplifters for questioning or to await the arrival of law enforcement." Pretty vague, right? I'm sure that's by design.

What about Sam's Club or Costco?

Well it's very common for most retailers who offer memberships to require a person to give consent to have their receipts and other personal property checked upon request. The Costco terms and conditions for membership state, “Costco reserves the right to inspect any container, backpack, briefcase, or other bag, upon entering or leaving the warehouse and to refuse entry to anyone at our discretion.”

If you'd like to learn more about your rights, the store and police response to shoplifting you can read more about that here. But of course the best defense against being stopped for shoplifting will always be to not shoplift.

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