Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 9 years ago

Shoplifting at Zellers help please!?

While shopping (I bought about 250 dollars worth of items) at Zellers in Canada. While trying to grab my ringing phone out of my purse I put one of those small makeup things in my purse by accident while waiting in the checkout line. A security gaurd asked to check my purse after the security system starting ringing, I didn't even realize I had it in my purse, so I let him. He took my picture and banned me from the store for a year

Few weeks later (Now) I just got a letter by Zellers lawyers "Patrick K Martin Barrister and Solicitor" and I am being charged $595 dollars for this!! I must pay it before November 7 2011

Please help me!! what can i do? the security gaurd took the item back I apologized and i told him what happened! he wouldnt even show me the footage that he says shows i put it in my bag and tried to steal!!

Extra info: the letter says "Recovery of civil damages" and wants to settle the claim with 595 dollers also says "The retailers right to civil damages is seperate and distinct from any criminal code proceedings instituted by the police"

PLEASE HELP!! :'( I'm 18 years old by the way


I'm trying to get help on what I can possibly do to avoid this.

- The item was returned

- Police were not on the scene

- Security guard would not provide the only proof he seems to have (security footage)

- I payed for $250 worth of clothes, why in gods name would I steal $5 makeup!

Update 2:

"Dr Snark", I have no criminal record, I have no reason to steal the makeup!! I was grabbing my phone and while putting it back into my purse with the same hand I answered the call I put the phone makeup into my purse.

Honestly if I was stealing "for the thrill" stealing 5 dollers worth of stuff is not a "thrill", your life is either extremely boring, or you have no idea and just wanted the points for writing an answer.

6 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    A request for hundreds of dollars would be premised on a notion of punitive damages. Not entirely baseless in the law, yet they would need to establish conduct worthy of punishment, and unless they could establish on a balance of probabilities that you actually intended to steal the items, they'd be s.o.l. (Incidentally, I am somewhat more inclined to believe you than other answerers: My gf once did exactly the same thing in a Shoppers Drug Mart. Had her hands full with unpurchased products, went to answer her phone in her purse, and ended up putting some of the products in her purse to free up her hands without realizing it. I had to point it out to her after she got off the phone.)

    And yes, I tend to think that a five dollar attempted theft with a $250 purchase looks much more likely to be accidental than anything else.

    There is an additional problem with their case for punitive damages: Presumably, the product remained in its packaging, undamaged? So they did not actually incur any losses, and are therefore not entitled to compensatory damages in any measure whatsoever? There is some uncertainty in the law as to whether it can be appropriate to award punitive damages in cases where there are no compensatory damages, even with blameworthy conduct. In any event, there has to be an element of proportionality - seeking more than a hundred times the value of the product would probably not be proportional.

    End of the day, I would be inclined to say "Ignore it and let them sue you." Odds are pretty slim that they actually will sue you (because the costs to them would be prohibitive, and cost recovery at Small Claims Court is pretty limited), and the problems with their case are significant enough with both the questions of liability and quantum that...well, all things considered, the odds of having to pay the full amount plus costs seems significantly lower than the odds of having to pay less than the full amount (plus some costs) or nothing at all.

    Interesting - looked up this Patrick Martin, and his office is just a couple blocks from mine. Perhaps more relevantly, I found a blog entry of a former lawyer including the following:


    "We represent people at the clinic who are charged with shoplifting and they usually get these letters," says Doug Ferguson, an adjunct professor with UWO's faculty of law. "We tell them to ignore it. And none of our clients have come back to us and said they've been sued." When I was practicing law, I had clients come to me with such letters from lawyers demanding ‘recovery costs’. I sent each of the lawyers a letter telling them that I told my clients to ignore their letters. None of my clients were sued either.


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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    ********. You didn't accidentally put makeup in your purse. That's the lamest excuse ever. "Why would I steal $5 worth of makeup when I bought $250 worth of clothes?" I don't know, you tell me. Maybe you did it for the thrill, maybe you only had $250, maybe you're just an idiot.

    ADD: I didn't say you definitely did it for the thrill. That was one of three possibilities. The other two were that you didn't have enough money or you're an idiot. I'm leaning towards the latter as you're only the five millionth teenage girl to use the exact same lame excuse.

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  • DBM
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    You've been given an offer to settle. If you choose to refuse or ignore the offer, it's true that the retailer may bring a civil action against you for recovery of their alleged damages.

    If you refuse the offer, they may bring a civil action against you. In a civil action, they would be required to prove their damages (which could, conceivably, be higher than the amount they're requesting).

    I won't advise you as to what you should do, but you have a few options:

    Accept the settlement offer, make a counter offer, or refuse the offer and wait to see if they bring an action against you.

    If you want specific advice as to what you should do, you should consult a lawyer. Depending on your circumstances, there may be legal resources (such as legal aid clinics) available to you that may advise you for free or at a reduced cost.

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  • fonner
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Patric Martin

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    My friend got the same letter as you.

    Exact same letter with exact same amount.

    You don't need to PAY to whatever they asked you.

    check this web

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  • 9 years ago

    help with what? I am not going to contribute money towards your fine if that is what you are asking.

    You want to negotiate the fine down, then you need to retain a lawyer.

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