HD67 - Alternative Means of Discouraging Shoplifting

Executive Summary:
With significant input from the business community, the Crime Commission formulated its findings with respect to alternative means of discouraging shoplifting based on an extensive literature review, statutory research, information provided by the Supreme Court of Virginia and statistical data furnished by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Virginia Retail Merchants Association (VRMA). These findings prompted the Crime Commission to make recommendations relating to the teen court concept and the sale of new merchandise by itinerant merchants and peddlers.

The Supreme Court provided an overview of the judiciary's treatment of the teen court concept in Virginia as well as background information regarding the history, philosophy, purposes, operation, administration and funding of this concept as implemented in other states across the nation. The Commission ultimately endorsed the position of Virginia's juvenile and domestic relations district court judges and declined to introduce legislation to establish a Teen Court in Virginia at this time.

With data provided by the DCJS and the VRMA, the Crime Commission was able to document the incidence of shoplifting and the number of arrests for buying and receiving stolen property as well as the resulting costs to consumers and the Commonwealth. The Commission's research revealed that the vast majority of shoplifting detection and prevention techniques recognized in the literature are currently in use by Virginia merchants and that, under Virginia law, civil remedies in addition to criminal avenues are available to merchants victimized by shoplifters. However, the Commission discovered that, unlike many other states, Virginia law does not specifically address stolen merchandise sold by peddlers and itinerant merchants, a significant problem, according to the VRMA, encountered at flea markets and similar venues across the state. This information prompted the Crime Commission, at the request of the VRMA, to recommend that legislation be introduced to require peddlers and itinerant merchants to maintain sales records on new merchandise offered for sale or risk criminal prosecution.