Plantation Police are searching for a suspect who allegedly shoplifted a $625 item from Warrick's Hobby Superstore.
The store, located at SW 78th Avenue and Peters Road in Plantation, reportedly caught a man taking the expensive item on the store's closed-circuit TV system.
In the State of Florida, shoplifting is considered theft. Anything valued over $300 is considered grand theft.
The penalties for grand theft can range from Pretrial Intervention (PTI) all the way up to 5 years in state prison.
For first-time offenders, PTI may be an option if the alleged victim agrees.
Most shoplifting incidents, whether misdemeanor or felony, usually result in an arrest right there in the store. The loss prevention officer (LPO), also known as a store security officer, will either observe the offender on the floor or on camera (CCTV). The LPO will watch as the offender walks past the cash registers (points of sale) and exits or tries to exit the store.
The LPO will detain the offender, take them to the loss prevention office, and recover the merchandise. The LPO may want the offender to write a statement. These statements do not require the reading of your Miranda rights because LPOs are not police officers, thus not agents of the government. Whether you sign a statement or write your own is up to you, but the LPO is not required to read you your rights.
After the LPO's investigation has concluded, the police will be called. The police, in many shoplifting cases, are non-essential witnesses because they did not observe the crime. Unless the accused gives a statement in the presence of police, their duties are limited to placing the accused under arrest.
That is why a loss prevention officer is a necessary witness for the state in most shoplifting cases.
In this case, however, the police will have to identify the man on the hobby shop's surveillance system and locate him. If they find him - or someone matching his description - they may need a statement from him in order to make an arrest (unless his image is so clearly visible on the surveillance camera).
Eric Matheny is a grand theft attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.