☰ Revisor of Missouri

Title XXXVI STATUTORY ACTIONS AND TORTS

Chapter 537

< > Effective - 28 Aug 1985 bottom

  537.125.  Shoplifting — detention of suspect by merchant — liability presumption. — 1.  As used in this section:

  (1)  "Mercantile establishment" means any mercantile place of business in, at or from which goods, wares and merchandise are sold, offered for sale or delivered from and sold at retail or wholesale;

  (2)  "Merchandise" means all goods, wares and merchandise offered for sale or displayed by a merchant;

  (3)  "Merchant" means any corporation, partnership, association or person who is engaged in the business of selling goods, wares and merchandise in a mercantile establishment;

  (4)  "Wrongful taking" includes stealing of merchandise or money and any other wrongful appropriation of merchandise or money.

  2.  Any merchant, his agent or employee, who has reasonable grounds or probable cause to believe that a person has committed or is committing a wrongful taking of merchandise or money from a mercantile establishment, may detain such person in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time for the purpose of investigating whether there has been a wrongful taking of such merchandise or money.  Any such reasonable detention shall not constitute an unlawful arrest or detention, nor shall it render the merchant, his agent or employee, criminally or civilly liable to the person so detained.

  3.  Any person willfully concealing unpurchased merchandise of any mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such establishment, shall be presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of committing a wrongful taking of such merchandise within the meaning of subsection 1, and the finding of such unpurchased merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be evidence of reasonable grounds and probable cause for the detention in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time, of such person by a merchant, his agent or employee, in order that recovery of such merchandise may be effected, and any such reasonable detention shall not be deemed to be unlawful, nor render such merchant, his agent or employee criminally or civilly liable.

  4.  Any merchant, his agent or employee, who has reasonable grounds or probable cause to believe that a person has committed a wrongful taking of property, as defined in this section, and who has detained such person and investigated such wrongful taking, may contact law enforcement officers and instigate criminal proceedings against such person.  Any such contact of law enforcement authorities or instigation of a judicial proceeding shall not constitute malicious prosecution, nor shall it render the merchant, his agent or employee criminally or civilly liable to the person so detained or against whom proceedings are instigated.

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(L. 1961 p. 571 §§ 1, 2, 3, A.L. 1985 H.B. 225)

(1972) This section adds to previously existing law a presumption that the willful concealment of property supplies the intent to steal. It is still, however, a jury issue as to whether there existed a willful concealment. The presumption is rebuttable by evidence such as that accused placed the tape recorder batteries in his pocket to aid in inspecting a magazine on a rack, and that he had no intent to steal. Schwane v. Broger Company (A.), 480 S.W.2d 113.

(1978) It was error for trial court to read a portion of statute, but counsel failed to state the proper objection at time evidence was admitted. Bly v. Skaggs Drug Centers, Inc. (A.), 562 S.W.2d 723.


---- end of effective  28 Aug 1985 ----

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