Sunday, September 02, 2007

Circuit City Apparently Is Exempt from Obeying the 4th Amendment

Mr Michael Righi was detained outside of an Ohio Circuit City Store by the manager and "loss prevention" person for refusing to show his receipt. The comments thread on Mr. Righi's blog post is very interesting in that so many people seem to think he's a jerk (well, most used less nice terms) for contesting the illegal search.

He called the police and was arrested and then released on $300 bail.

My husband and I shop at a local electronics super store and they have the same type of loss prevention person at the front of the store. We walk right past him every time. He has been trained NOT to try and force us to show the receipt. Good for them, because I'm not "guilty until proven innocent" in this country, yet. Accuse me of shoplifting, call the cops and then you can see my receipt and bag. Meanwhile, I'll be on the phone to my lawyer, the ACLU and the Mercury News.

Oh, and I liked the advice given in the comments to the above blog, take the merchandise directly to the returns counter and get your money back right then and there. You want to see my receipt? Bring that nice police officer over here and you can all examine the receipt as you refund my money.

ETA: ok, ok, my husband just reminded me that the 4th Amendment protects me from the government illegally searching me. In the back of my mind something tells me that if the government is prohibited then surely private citizens are equally prohibited - but that would be under some other statute - kidnapping maybe? I shot from the hip - but I know there's a grain of truth in there somewhere...


Thumper said...

I'm not a lawyer, but I think that technically, since the stores are private property, they have the right to peek into your bag and match the receipt to what's in it, as long as they have signs stating that they might do it.

I've never liked it, either, and we're always talking about just bolting past the bored guy waiting to inspect our purchases, but we've never done it. I suppose if they can arrest my ass, I won't...

Dawno said...

I've seen some interesting comments on that from fairly thoughtful people who are saying that once you buy something it becomes your property and even in the store's "private property" they don't have the right, anymore, to view it and your receipt for it unless they specifically want to accuse you of some kind of illegality. The store mgr said, according to the blog post, that he wasn't accusing Mr. Righi of anything.

Unless you sign a contract, like at Costco or Sam's Club giving up that right, at least here in California, they cannot do anything more than ask you to voluntarily show your receipt and you can decline.

Jay Cam said...

i think thumper is right..back at "costco" they had people that checked everyone the left the store. it was time comsuming but i guess its their way of making sure they dont get robbed. i guess if you show up with no receipt...well i know i would be suspicious of someone like that.

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