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What is the name of your state? WI

I was caught shoplifting at a major retail store. value was $20-$30. A month later they sent me a letter stating they had the right to demand me to pay them $200 and this this would not guarantee that i would not be prosecuted. I sent them a personal check for $200. 7 months later i am being sued by the state. they had no notification of any restitution paid and have never heard of a retailer doing this. the DA's office has no idea of what happened. I've been attempting to represent myself until now b/c i'm not eligible for a public defender and can't easily afford an attorney.

has anyone heard of a retailer doing this?
should i get an attorney?


michael parks

well make them a copy of the check, that it was paid and deposited by the store, and it should be done with.

You have the proof, they dont, so give it to them.


Senior Member
Many states, Wisconsin included, allow retailers to charge civil penalties without judgement to those caught shoplifting. This is done for a couple of reasons. It is designed to be a deterent to potential shoplifters and it frees up the courts from having to try small time shoplifting cases. Also, the fees are supposed to be used by the retailers to help with the costs of theft prevention.

In your case the retailer probably has not notified the police that the case is closed and it has been submitted to the DA for prosecution. Contact the retailer and talk to the loss prevention manager. Ask them to clear up the mistake and be prepared to show proof. The mention of your own lawsuit against them may get the ball rolling just a bit faster.


So the state suing me is a mistake? The retailer is at fault?


Senior Member
My response:

Let me get in on this, and hopefully clear things up.

The store is allowed to charge you $200.00 under "Civil" law - - to reimburse them for the trouble of having to use employees, video tape, electricity for the video, and everything else involved that cost them money to have you on their property and to catch you and to protect their interests.

The State, on the other hand, doesn't care if, or how, a private company handles their expenses incurred because of you. The State only cares that you allegedly committed a "Criminal" offense, and will prosecute you for the wrongs you committed against the "People" of your State.

These are two separate actions, and one is not dependant upon the other, nor does one cancel out the other.



In court, the DA's office said that the retailer stated that they had never received any money from me, but I had brought in a copy of the check I had written out to Wal-mart stores Inc. and it showed that it was deposited in their account. The Judge and DA's had never heard of a policy like this, but have seen it been done, except Wal-mart hasn't seeked criminal conviction also. The DA said that it made no sense for Wal-mart to want $200 in restitution for $20 of attempted theft.

Can anybody explain why Wal-mart would do this??
Am I able to sue Wal-mart for this?


Senior Member
As noted by other posters on this thread, many states allow the merchant (victim) to recover the costs of security from the shoplifter. However, a review of the Wisconsin 2001 statutes does not show that WI allows this. In fact, it is specific that a merchant must institute civil action in order to recover their 'damages (Articles 943.50 and 943.51)
Source: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/01Stat0943.pdf

A review of the statutes on 'restitution' (Article 800.093 and 973.20) seems to only apply only as a result of a conviction or a plea bargain.

It is possible that Wal-Mart erred in applying this recovery provision to their stores in Wisconsin.

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