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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Wokie Wokie 8:53 am 28 Feb 12

Unless informed otherwise I believe they’re allowed to look if bag is bigger than an A4 sized piece of paper but not touch the contents.

JazzyJess JazzyJess 8:58 am 28 Feb 12

If you’re unhappy about the Security Guard’s conduct I’d make a formal complaint to Supabarn or centre management (depending on who employs the secutiry team).

PBO PBO 9:04 am 28 Feb 12

I think that you will find that it is not a legal requirement, just a store policy so you can refuse and they can call the police. However, if you havent stolen anything and they had no reasonable reason to suspect that you did, there could be issues with false or wrongful imprisonment. When a store says that they “Reserve the right” to search bags you can be sure that this is quite wrong.

Erg0 Erg0 9:16 am 28 Feb 12

Wokie said :

Unless informed otherwise I believe they’re allowed to look if bag is bigger than an A4 sized piece of paper but not touch the contents.

Unless it differs here from elsewhere, I believe it’s the other way around: they have no right to search you or your bag unless they inform you, in advance, that it’s a condition of your entry to the premises. This is why you see signs at the entrance of stores that are (attempting) to do the right thing.

shirty_bear shirty_bear 9:57 am 28 Feb 12

Some years ago (probably 10), I was told categorically by a lawyer friend that store staff have no right to inspect bags unless they have belief (i.e. actual evidence) that you’ve knicked stuff. Don’t know if that has changed in the meantime, but I’ve heard nought so I doubt it.

I find it intrusive. When they ask to look in my bag/s, I give them a friendly ‘no’ and continue walking.

Russ Russ 10:01 am 28 Feb 12
mooo_cow mooo_cow 10:02 am 28 Feb 12
orangegirl orangegirl 10:04 am 28 Feb 12

All customers enter the premises on a licence, on which the retailer can impose conditions. It is the same as visiting a private home with a ‘condition of entry’ of no shoes on the carpet.

A person searching is not allowed to touch your belongings but may ask you to move things so they can see. You can always refuse a bag search. If you do, the retailer has the right to ask you to leave the store and not return. If the retailer is certain that a person is concealing shoplifted items they may request to search bags or parcels; however, if you are forcibly searched or detained but have not committed an offence you can make a complaint to the police.

NSW Fair Trading has some more information here http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/Consumers/Buying_goods/Bag_check_guidelines.html#Bag_check_–_guidelines_for_checking_of_bags_and_parcels_in_stores

Jivrashia Jivrashia 10:14 am 28 Feb 12

PBO said :

When a store says that they “Reserve the right” to search bags you can be sure that this is quite wrong.

Because it’s wrong I could have sworn that they’ve changed that to:
It is a condition of entry to this store that you present your bag for inspection upon request

The only problem is that that “condition of entry” sign is located within the store and is viewable only after you have entered. A condition that is enforced on your without your consent I guess?

affordable affordable 10:34 am 28 Feb 12

with all these rights no wonder their is unabated crime, seen 2 cases people walk in run out with goods unpaid, shop assistants powerless to do anything, good to see the community doing their best to prevent crime with RIGHTS that only the guilty need to use

Erg0 Erg0 10:37 am 28 Feb 12

Russ said :

bearlikesbeer bearlikesbeer 10:42 am 28 Feb 12

Orangegirl is spot on.

I brought this up on RA back in 2008. If I remember correctly, the general consensus amongst Rioters was anyone who refuses a bag check or makes a big deal out of it is a bit of a tool. I’m still being a bit of a tool.

http://the-riotact.com/bag-checks-at-retail-stores/9882

Alderney Alderney 10:56 am 28 Feb 12

Russ said :

schmeah schmeah 11:09 am 28 Feb 12

This so called ‘policy’ is why I have come to refuse to enter certain stores, espcially Big-W and Target. Although, I’ve since been back to Target as it seems easier to simply ignore their door stooges.

I can’t stand the thought of a pimply teenager peering at my personal belongings just because they are told to .. not because they have a reason to believe I’ve lifted something. It’s invasive.

I don’t know what is worse/better; unneccesary bag searches or having people follow you around a store. I think I’d rather the latter because I don’t actually steal, so they can follow me all they want.

Myles Peterson Myles Peterson 11:20 am 28 Feb 12

Just politely refuse, it’s hilarious – stumped shop attendants usually don’t know what to do. They just gape as you stroll off.

I actually find it offensive when I’m accused of theft as I leave a shop. And I’m under no requirement to “prove my innocence,” whatever stupid signs or policies are in place.

Erg0 Erg0 11:47 am 28 Feb 12

I struggle to understand why people think that a bag check is equivalent to an accusation of theft. Clearly stuff is going missing, or they wouldn’t be paying someone to do the checks in the first place. You can’t leave it up to the 16-year-old on the door to decide who looks like a thief and who doesn’t, if only because you’re likely to offend a whole bunch more people by singling them out as “dodgy-looking”. Checking everyone is the least worst option, in that it specifically avoids accusing any single person of having done anything wrong.

If you don’t want to shop at a particular store because it’s a hassle to go through the bag check then fine, but claiming you’re being accused of theft seems like you’re reaching for a reason to be offended. Does this mean that you never fly anywhere, because airport security is accusing you of being a terrorist?

Amanda Hugankis Amanda Hugankis 12:27 pm 28 Feb 12

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 who looks like a thief and who doesn’t, if only because you’re likely to offend a whole bunch more people by singling them out as “dodgy-looking”.

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 – e.g. BigWoop and Target. I can at any point in time have a box of Tums or panadol, hair spray or deodorant, a bottle of water, mints, chewing gum, and from time to time (esp in Summer) a spare Tshirt or pair of socks to pair with my flat shoes for walking home in.

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?

Erg0 Erg0 12:34 pm 28 Feb 12

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 who looks like a thief and who doesn’t, if only because you’re likely to offend a whole bunch more people by singling them out as “dodgy-looking”.

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?

I believe the popular term is “security theatre”. It’s not about catching thieves so much as dissuading potential thieves from nicking stuff in the first place.

HenryBG HenryBG 12:34 pm 28 Feb 12

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 who looks like a thief and who doesn’t, if only because you’re likely to offend a whole bunch more people by singling them out as “dodgy-looking”.

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 – e.g. BigWoop and Target. I can at any point in time have a box of Tums or panadol, hair spray or deodorant, a bottle of water, mints, chewing gum, and from time to time (esp in Summer) a spare Tshirt or pair of socks to pair with my flat shoes for walking home in.

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.

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