“I stole $170 dollars worth of clothes at a clothing store I work at in Buffalo NY. I’ve never shoplift, but my manager didn’t call the cops. He just told me he was going to send me some paperwork to pay for the amount stolen and an additional $500. What is going on?”

Andrew Tabashneck is the founding partner of the Tabashneck Law Firm

The Tabashneck Law Firm founded by Andrew Tabashneck

First, given that you were permitted to leave without police being called, it is unlikely that criminal charges will be brought against you. However, in relation to the $500 requested by the clothing store in Buffalo, New York’s General Obligation Law, under Civil Asset Recovery, provides storeowners the authority to recover as much as 5 times the worth of stolen property, but no more than $500.

Specifically, under General Obligations Law 11-105, an adult or emancipated minor who commits larceny against the property of a mercantile establishment shall be civilly liable to the operator of such establishment in an amount consisting of: (1) the retail price of the merchandise if not recovered in merchantable condition up to an amount not to exceed fifteen hundred dollars; plus (2) a penalty not to exceed the greater of five times the retail price of the merchandise or seventy-five dollars; provided, however, that in no event shall such penalty exceed five hundred dollars.

In the near future, you should receive a civil demand letter from the office of an attorney who represents the clothing store in Buffalo. This kind of demand letter is the equivlant to a letter demanding payment for a debt such as a hospital bill or credit card debt. Prior to paying, you could attempt to negotiate and possibly reduce the amount owed. If there are certain facts present, you may even have legal defenses available which would allow you to refuse payment.

For more information, schedule a free consultation with Andrew Tabashneck, Esq., today.

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