Community News

Walmark continues to stop shoppers to look at your purchases

by: Christopher Doyle, Creative Director/Toddler Sensei
Posted: January 27, 2020


HUNTINGTON BEACH...Can Walmart legally stop you to look at your receipt and/or insides your bags?

The short answer, no. Absolutely not.

The long answer is this: If I smash a beer bottle over your head I will be charged with assault and probably various other things. If you invite me to smash a beer bottle over your head and refuse to press charges, I will be charged with nothing.

By voluntarily stopping, I’m inviting you to smash me with a beer bottle and I won’t press charges. But if you try to stop me against my will, you’ve just smashed me with one without my consent and the story gets radically different.

People stand in those receipt lines because of sheep mentality. These businesses know this and take full advantage of it. People are generally idiots that will do what they see other people doing - so if there is a line that terminates in the parking lot, where customers on their way out want to be, they will typically join that line. Show a receipt? Does it mean I get to my car eventually? No problem!

A receipt is a proof of purchase. Barring some evidence or suspicion of shoplifting, the business has absolutely no legal authority to detain you - they simply hope you don’t know that and are, in fact, an idiot.

Back in about 2003 I was buying a s--t ton of PC builds from a store called Fry’s (Think Costco of electronics) in Burbank, California. I needed to fill an office of twenty or so terminals and would make thrice weekly runs to Fry’s ending in shopping carts full of things. There was at least a twenty minute line to check out. Then another twenty minute line while some d-----t checked every item at the door. I eventually decided to detour and was stopped, multiple times….

In each case, it escalated to a manager and in each case, I was apologized to and “let go”…and when I say “let go” I mean that I voluntarily left after staying voluntarily. I never showed my receipt because the bluff was called.

No matter what anyone says, unless you are part of a membership based retail chain with implicit contractual conditions, there is no way any retail establishment can force you to show a receipt upon exit of premises unless said receipt is to be used for in-store reimbursement. At all. Ever. In any store.

So walking without stopping at the hall monitors exit is more or less a test and they’re hoping you’ll blow it and submit to some -------- receipt check that serves no real loss prevention purpose.

I do stop for adorable old people though - because that’s like their last thing that means anything. I’ll easily wait 2 minutes while some octogenarian verifies I actually purchased only shampoo, diapers and a fifty inch TV.


  ( Part 1 enacted 1872. )
  ( Title 13 enacted 1872. )

CHAPTER 5. Larceny [484 - 502.9]
  ( Chapter 5 enacted 1872. )

 ( Chapter 5 enacted 1872. Section f-1)

(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 merchant’s premises.

What the above states is that a Walmart employee can stop you and check your package and receipt because in that individual's mind, you are a thief, a criminal, and you are illegally stealing something from the store. So everyone in line is considered a thief, per f-1.

(ed) The only reason you are stopped before exiting the store is that the store employee checking your packages has probable cause that you are stealing something from the store.

The law needs to be updated and clarified that "all" customers leaving a business cannot be stopped and their packages searched by an employee of that business without probable cause. The Talbert Avenue Walmart does stop shoppers, but the Walmart Market on Beach Blvd doesn't. Maybe they a double standard for their stores. Guess our state lawmakers in Sacramento have more important things to do like raising taxes on the poor or bad-mouthing the president.

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