Store Bag Searches and My Rights in Canberra?

bguy 28 February 2012 62

Today after while leaving Supabarn I was approached by a security guard who asked to look in my bag. I agreed and opened the bag. He spotted a packet of seeds that I had bought from another store and tried to take them. I withdrew my bag and asked him if he was sure he was allowed to touch my things. I then showed him the relevant receipt and he was satisfied. While I was walking away he told me that he was allowed to touch “merchandise”.

I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have any right to touch anything in my bag, and I have no obligation so submit to the search.

Can anyone help clear this up for me?


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62 Responses to Store Bag Searches and My Rights in Canberra?
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harvyk1 harvyk1 4:10 pm 28 Feb 12

Disinformation said :

Regardless of what Retailers put up in their stores in terms of advice, it’s just a convention that they agree to in terms of a code of conduct.
It’s not legally enforceable.
It’s like the “Parking for XXXX customers only” signs in front of many Canberra businesses. Or “Cars will be towed”.

Much security theater plays upon ignorance. Much posturing by security guards isn’t legitimate and any holder of a Certificate 111 level in security operations (which was required by registered security guards in Canberra) will know exactly what they can and can’t do.
Looking in the bag, or grabbing possessions of a private citizen has repercussions.
But knowing your rights doesn’t mean that you have the right to be an asshole. That’s purely for individual discretion.

For someone who uses the name of “Disinformation” you certainly do seem to post relatively straight forwards and true answers.

I will slightly disagree with that parking comment, as a private organisation can arrange to have cars towed from their premises but that’s going OT…

Amanda Hugankis Amanda Hugankis 3:49 pm 28 Feb 12

PBO said :

Amanda Hugankis said :

dtc said :

How about you just all become men, and carry a wallet and keys and, um, thats its. No bag to search. We may be simple but we are efficient.

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to worry about things like tampons and such.

It be worse, you could be coming back from a fyshwick shopping trip and have to deal with bag-checkers seeing a 12 inch vibrating gift from a fyshwick tourist shop.

Bag Checker: Thank you for shopping at K-Mart, may i please see your………oh dear lord! Oh my, Do we sell them? oh ummmm, arent you a little short for…….never mind, have a nice day and thank you for shopping at K-Mart.

Shopper: “Don’t look so shocked!!! Have you never seen a power-drill before?! I’m planning on doing some DIY! … so to speak *ahem*”

Disinformation Disinformation 3:48 pm 28 Feb 12

Regardless of what Retailers put up in their stores in terms of advice, it’s just a convention that they agree to in terms of a code of conduct.
It’s not legally enforceable.
It’s like the “Parking for XXXX customers only” signs in front of many Canberra businesses. Or “Cars will be towed”. Much security theater plays upon ignorance. Much posturing by security guards isn’t legitimate and any holder of a Certificate 111 level in security operations (which was required by registered security guards in Canberra) will know exactly what they can and can’t do.
Looking in the bag, or grabbing possessions of a private citizen has repercussions.
But knowing your rights doesn’t mean that you have the right to be an asshole. That’s purely for individual discretion.

Sandman Sandman 3:35 pm 28 Feb 12

Break out the tissue’s. What are you carrying around that’s so damn personal? Leave your sex toys and drug paraphernalia in the car if you don’t want shop staff seeing them.
I make a point of heading toward the security staff to show them my bag (usually the baby’s nappy bag). That ensures that any shifty characters hanging around the store exit see’s that bags are being searched and possibly chooses not to shoplift that day which reduces the store losses and therefore the surcharge that store puts on each item to cover loss from theft.
Either that or actually buy something and go through the self service checkout. Never had a bag searched there.

PBO PBO 3:23 pm 28 Feb 12

Amanda Hugankis said :

dtc said :

How about you just all become men, and carry a wallet and keys and, um, thats its. No bag to search. We may be simple but we are efficient.

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to worry about things like tampons and such.

It be worse, you could be coming back from a fyshwick shopping trip and have to deal with bag-checkers seeing a 12 inch vibrating gift from a fyshwick tourist shop.

Bag Checker: Thank you for shopping at K-Mart, may i please see your………oh dear lord! Oh my, Do we sell them? oh ummmm, arent you a little short for…….never mind, have a nice day and thank you for shopping at K-Mart.

Amanda Hugankis Amanda Hugankis 3:04 pm 28 Feb 12

dtc said :

How about you just all become men, and carry a wallet and keys and, um, thats its. No bag to search. We may be simple but we are efficient.

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to worry about things like tampons and such.

Amanda Hugankis Amanda Hugankis 2:44 pm 28 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

Amanda Hugankis said :

Erg0 said :

I struggle to understand why people think that a bag check is equivalent to an accusation of theft. You can’t leave it up to the 16-year-old on the door to decide ……”.

But they leave it up to the 16-year-old on the door to make decisions about whether what they see in the bag actually belongs to you or has been knicked? My handbag contains a whole heap of stuff, generally stuff I’ve purchased at stores, including the stores that conduct such bag checks – ……

So what is said 16-year-old to do?! What am I to do, for that matter … should I carry receipts for my panadol on the off chance that said 16-year-old decide that perhaps I have lifted it from their store?

How about thinking about the best way to help them do their job, cheerfully and politely?

Bloody-minded morons like Myles, bullying their “inferiors” by being rude to them and obstructing them from doing their jobs, make the world a nastier place than it needs to be.

What of anything I wrote indicated that I was rude and/or impolite?!

I, in fact, am the dunce that walks up to the 16-year-olds and presents my bag for inspection! I was merely pointing out that it puts the bag-checker in an awkward position (a position I feel for, and hence I present my bag so it alleviates the embarrassment for both of us when they are forced to ask), and I suspect that all it does it prevent the ‘knickers’ from putting the items they’re knicking in their bags, not from stealing them altogether.

p1 p1 2:38 pm 28 Feb 12

dph said :

The one thing you’re taught with bag searches is to NEVER put your hand inside a persons bag. You always ask them to remove the item/items themselves.

Basically, by placing your hand in the bag, you’re ‘tampering’ with any suspected evidence/stolen item. They could argue that you placed the item in the bag yourself.

…but mostly you don’t want to find out the hard way that my handbag is half full of used syringes.

dtc dtc 2:32 pm 28 Feb 12

How about you just all become men, and carry a wallet and keys and, um, thats its. No bag to search. We may be simple but we are efficient.

harvyk1 harvyk1 2:09 pm 28 Feb 12

Henry82 said :

I could be wrong, but probably by opening your bag for inspection you indirectly agreed to be searched and had your possessions touched. Other “rules” associated with searching are usually industry agreements, not law.

Yes, by opening your bag at an exit you have agreed to be searched, however you can withdraw that agreement at any time.

Agreeing to a search does not automatically mean you’ve agreed for any touching of your processions. You would need to provide that consent separately, and again you can withdraw that at any time.

Watson Watson 2:06 pm 28 Feb 12

Sir_Orangepeel said :

My advice is to avoid going to shops altogether.

Definitely. And make sure to avoid the point to point camera on Hindmarsh on your way to avoiding the shops.

Myles Peterson Myles Peterson 1:50 pm 28 Feb 12

“Bloody-minded morons like Myles, bullying their “inferiors” by being rude to them and obstructing them from doing their jobs, make the world a nastier place than it needs to be.”

Nah, that’s not what I said. I’m polite about refusing and you’ve turned insisting on the presumption of innocence into “obstruction.” Logic fail worthy of a police state.

I used to do loss prevention for ColesMyer and our training insisted 70% of “shrinkage” came from staff, particularly management and, amusingly, loss prevention.

Statistically, it should be the customer checking the security guard’s bag for stolen goods.

Erg0 Erg0 1:40 pm 28 Feb 12

schmeah said :

Erg0 said :

Does this mean that you never fly anywhere, because airport security is accusing you of being a terrorist?

Checking people for bombs and guns at an airport is a pretty long stretch from a teenager checking to see if you’ve stolen a pair of socks .. maybe you’re not offended by someone poking their nose through your stuff in all it’s diversity and exposed glory, for a reason that is more to do with a cheap (and likely ineffective) loss prevention strategy than a national security threat, but to be honest I am.

I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing. You don’t like your privacy being invaded with marginal justification, which is fine. Some people literally believe that by subjecting them to a bag check the shop is accusing them, personally, of being a thief, which is the target of the above comparison (as I essentially said in the sentence before the one you quoted).

Why don’t you see teenagers doing this humiliating task at bigger department stores? Because they bother to invest in loss prevention methods that are actually effective; video, electronic and personnel surveillance.

Most larger department stores have multiple exits to cover, which changes the cost/benefit equation a bit. Their registers are also postioned away from the exits, meaning that they also have to stop and check paying customers on their way out of the store (unlike, say, Big W). I know that Myer in Perth tried compulsory bag checks number of years ago, but ended up dropping them fairly quickly after major customer backlash. I would guess that their walk-through traffic declined sharply, and they realised that they were doing themselves more harm than good. Big W, et al obviously don’t feel that they have the same problem.

Sir_Orangepeel Sir_Orangepeel 1:34 pm 28 Feb 12

My advice is to avoid going to shops altogether.

Henry82 Henry82 1:29 pm 28 Feb 12

I could be wrong, but probably by opening your bag for inspection you indirectly agreed to be searched and had your possessions touched. Other “rules” associated with searching are usually industry agreements, not law.

schmeah schmeah 1:18 pm 28 Feb 12

Erg0 said :

Does this mean that you never fly anywhere, because airport security is accusing you of being a terrorist?

Checking people for bombs and guns at an airport is a pretty long stretch from a teenager checking to see if you’ve stolen a pair of socks .. maybe you’re not offended by someone poking their nose through your stuff in all it’s diversity and exposed glory, for a reason that is more to do with a cheap (and likely ineffective) loss prevention strategy than a national security threat, but to be honest I am.

Why don’t you see teenagers doing this humiliating task at bigger department stores? Because they bother to invest in loss prevention methods that are actually effective; video, electronic and personnel surveillance.

dph dph 1:18 pm 28 Feb 12

The one thing you’re taught with bag searches is to NEVER put your hand inside a persons bag. You always ask them to remove the item/items themselves.

Basically, by placing your hand in the bag, you’re ‘tampering’ with any suspected evidence/stolen item. They could argue that you placed the item in the bag yourself.

Also, to those who refuse to show their bags, get a life. I hope the store in question bar’s you from their premise’s, which they likely would & have every right to do so.

harvyk1 harvyk1 1:16 pm 28 Feb 12

Amanda Hugankis said :

should I carry receipts for my panadol on the off chance that said 16-year-old decide that perhaps I have lifted it from their store?

Nope, that 16 year old need to have actual proof that the box of panadol has been stolen from their store. Simply having it in your bag is not proof, because as you point out, you could have purchased that panadol from another store prior to entry into this store.

So for the OP, the security guard had no right to even attempt to touch anything in your bag. The best they can do is call the police and ask you to stay, and only if they have real evidence that you stole the item in question from their store. To put it simply they need to have seen you put the item into your bag and then deliberately walk out of the store without paying, or alternatively still have a security device attached.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 12:57 pm 28 Feb 12

I’ve had the opposite problem of over-zealous security staff. I usually stop and open any bag I happen to have with me and start pulling out the contents along with relevant receipts and the security person usually gets a bit embarrassed by it and has a cursory glance in the bag tells me I’m ok. Never had anyone try to touch anything.

I try to avoid going into a shop with a bag from another shop, just to avoid potential “situations”. Where possible I put the first bag in the car before going to the second shop. Not always practical (especially if your mode of transport is bus or bike).

lumpy lumpy 12:40 pm 28 Feb 12

Put in a complaint. When I was a teenager, my friend and I would typically go to the mall every Saturday, like every teenage girl does. When leaving one store, the manager stopped us, rummaged through my friends’s bag and pulled out her deoderant to the full view of a packed shop and old ladies shaking their heads. We’d actually walked half an hour to get to the mall on a hot day and the deoderant was half empty, but this just wouldn’t do- she kept us there for a good half hour embarassing us. Went home, complained to the company, got an epic apology from head office, manager got fired and we ended up with a lovely gift certificate. To save face now, I open my shopping bags to store assistants at the door as I leave. I don’t go out of my way to walk over to them, but it’s better than being hunted down.

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