Maryland Shoplifting Law Excerpts

§ 3-1301.

(a) In this subtitle the following terms have the meanings indicated.

(b) “Employee theft” means the theft of any merchandise from a mercantile establishment by an employee, agent, or contractor of the mercantile establishment.

(c) “Merchant” means the owner or operator of a mercantile establishment.

(d) “Mercantile establishment” means any place where merchandise is displayed, held, or offered for sale, either at retail or wholesale.

(e) “Merchandise” means any goods, wares, commodity, money, or other personal property located on the premises of a mercantile establishment.

(f) “Responsible person” means:

(1) Any individual, whether an adult or a minor, who commits or attempts to commit an act of shoplifting or employee theft; and

(2) The parents or legal guardians of an unemancipated minor who commits or attempts to commit an act of shoplifting or employee theft.

(g) “Shoplift” means any 1 or more of the following acts committed by a person without the consent of the merchant and with the purpose or intent of appropriating merchandise to that person’s own use without payment, obtaining merchandise at less than its stated sales price, or otherwise depriving a merchant of all or any part of the value or use of merchandise:

(1) Removing any merchandise from its immediate place of display or from any other place on the premises of the mercantile establishment;

(2) Obtaining or attempting to obtain possession of any merchandise by charging that merchandise to another person without the authority of that person or by charging that merchandise to a fictitious person;

(3) Concealing any merchandise;

(4) Substituting, altering, removing, or disfiguring any label or price tag;

(5) Transferring any merchandise from a container in which that merchandise is displayed or packaged to any other container; or

(6) Disarming any alarm tag attached to any merchandise.

§ 3-1302.

A responsible person is civilly liable to the merchant:

(1) To restore the merchandise to the merchant or, if the merchandise is not recoverable, has been damaged, or otherwise has lost all or part of its value, to pay the merchant an amount equal to the merchant’s stated sales price for the merchandise;

(2) To pay the merchant for any other actual damages sustained by the merchant, not including the loss of time or wages incurred in connection with the apprehension or prosecution of the shoplifter or employee; and

(3) Subject to the merchant’s compliance with the procedures contained in § 3-1303 of this subtitle, to pay the merchant a civil penalty equal to twice the merchant’s stated sales price for the merchandise, but not less than $50 nor more than $1,000.

§ 3-1303.

(a) If a merchant elects to seek the civil penalty available under § 3-1302(3) of this subtitle, the merchant:

(1) Shall comply with the procedures contained in this section;

(2) May not orally request or accept any payment at the time of apprehension; and

(3) May not accept any payment in cash without issuing a receipt for the payment.

(b)

(1) The merchant shall cause an initial demand letter to be:

(i) Hand delivered personally to the responsible person; or

(ii) Mailed to the responsible person at that person’s last known address.

(2) The initial demand letter shall:

(i) Identify the act of shoplifting or employee theft alleged to have been committed;

(ii) Specify the amount of damages sought under § 3-1302(1) and (2) of this subtitle;

(iii) Specify the amount of the civil penalty sought under § 3-1302(3) of this subtitle and explain the method of calculating that amount;

(iv) Request payment of the damages and civil penalty by cash, money order, certified check, or cashier’s check;

(v) Contain a conspicuous notice advising the responsible person that payment of the damages and civil penalty does not preclude the possibility of criminal prosecution, but that the payment would not be admissible in any criminal proceeding as an admission or evidence of guilt; and

(vi) Specify the date by which the responsible person shall make the required payment to avoid civil action, which date shall be at least 15 days after the date of hand delivery or from the postmark date, as the case may be, of the initial demand letter.

(c)

(1) If payment in full is not received by the merchant on or before the date specified in the initial demand letter, the merchant shall cause a second demand letter to be mailed to the responsible person at that person’s last known address.

(2) The second demand letter shall:

(i) Contain the same information, request for payment, and notice that is required by subsection (b)(2)(i) through (v) of this section for an initial demand letter;

(ii) Specify the date by which the responsible person shall make the required payment to avoid civil action, which date shall be at least 10 days from the postmark date of the second demand letter; and

(iii) Advise the responsible person that, if the required payment is not made in full on or before the date specified in the second demand letter, the responsible person will be subject to immediate institution of a civil suit for damages, penalties, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

(d) The merchant shall get a certificate of mailing from the U. S. Postal Service for each initial demand letter and second demand letter mailed to a responsible person under this section.

§ 3-1304.

A responsible person who complies fully with an initial demand letter or a second demand letter on or before the date specified in that demand letter may not incur any further civil liability to the merchant for damages arising out of the act of shoplifting or employee theft that was the subject of the demand letter.

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