Vermont Shoplifting Law Excerpts

Title 13: Crimes & Criminal Procedure

§ 2574. Right of merchant to request merchandise to be kept in view

A merchant has the right to request in a reasonable manner any person at his retail mercantile establishment to place and keep in full view any merchandise which the person has removed from its place of display, for any purpose. Notice of this request shall be conspicuously posted by the merchant in said retail mercantile establishment.

§ 2575. Offense of retail theft

A person commits the offense of retail theft when he, with intent of depriving the merchant wrongfully of the lawful possession of his merchandise,

(1) takes and carries away or causes to be taken and carried away or aids and abets the carrying away of, any merchandise from a retail mercantile establishment without paying the retail value of the merchandise; or

(2) alters, transfers or removes or causes to be altered, transferred or removed or aids and abets the alteration, transfer or removal of any label, price tag, indicia of value or any other markings affixed to any merchandise in a retail mercantile establishment and purchases the merchandise for less than its retail value; or

(3) transfers or causes to be transferred or aids and abets in the transfer of any merchandise in a retail mercantile establishment from one container or location to another container or location and purchases the merchandise for less than its retail value.

§ 2576. Detention

(a) Any merchant who has reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed or attempted to commit retail theft may detain the person on or in the immediate vicinity of the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, affording the person the opportunity to be detained in a place out of public view if available, in a reasonable manner which may include the use of reasonable force and for a reasonable length of time for any of the following purposes:

(1) To request and verify identification;

(2) To make reasonable inquiry as to whether the person has in his possession unpurchased merchandise and, if unpurchased, to recover the merchandise;

(3) To inform a law enforcement officer of the detention of the person and surrender that person to the custody of a law enforcement officer; and

(4) In the case of a minor, to inform a law enforcement officer, and, if known or determined, the parent or parents, guardian or other person having supervision of the minor of his detention and to surrender custody of the minor to the law enforcement officer, parent, guardian or other person.

(b) Any person detained under (a)(3) or (a)(4) of this section shall, if a telephone is available, have the right to make one local telephone call of reasonable duration. The merchant shall advise the person detained of this right.

§ 2577. Penalty

(a) A person convicted of the offense of retail theft of merchandise having a retail value not in excess of $100.00 shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300.00 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

(b) Upon the second or subsequent conviction of the offense of retail theft of merchandise having a retail value not in excess of $100.00, a person shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00 or imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.

(c) A person convicted of the offense of retail theft of merchandise having a retail value in excess of $100.00 shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00 or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both.

§ 2578. Restitution

(a) A sentencing court may order reasonable restitution where merchandise stolen is not recovered or is recovered in damaged condition. Damages shall be calculated based on retail value.

(b) Restitution may be ordered in addition to any other penalties imposed.

(c) Restitution shall be supervised by the department of corrections.

§ 2579. Civil recovery for retail theft

(a) Any person over the age of 16 years or any emancipated minor who commits the offense of retail theft against a retail mercantile establishment in violation of section 2575 of this title shall be civilly liable to the retail mercantile establishment in an amount consisting of:

(1) damages equal to the retail price of the merchandise if the item is not returned in a merchantable condition; and

(2) a civil penalty of two times the retail price of the merchandise, to be not less than $25.00 and not more than $300.00.

(b) The fact that an action may be brought against an individual as provided in this section shall not limit the right of a retail mercantile establishment to demand, in writing, that a person who is liable for damages and penalties under this section remit the damages and penalties prior to the commencement of any legal action.

(c) If the person to whom a demand is made complies with the demand, that person shall incur no further civil liability for that specific act of retail theft.

(d) Any demand made under this section shall be accompanied by a copy of this law.

(e) A criminal prosecution under section 2575 of this title is not a prerequisite to the applicability of this section and such a criminal prosecution shall not bar an action under this section. An action under this section shall not bar a criminal prosecution under section 2575 of this title.

(f) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit or limit any other cause of action which a retail mercantile establishment may have against a person who unlawfully takes merchandise from a retail mercantile establishment, except as provided in subsection (c) of this section.

(g) Any testimony or statements by the defendant or any evidence derived from an attempt to reach a civil settlement or from a civil proceeding brought under this section shall be inadmissible in any other court proceeding relating to such retail theft.

(h) If a retail mercantile establishment files suit to recover damages and penalties pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and the mercantile establishment fails to appear at a hearing in such proceedings without excuse from the court, the court shall dismiss the suit with prejudice and award costs to the defendant.

(i) A person who knowingly uses the provisions of this section to demand or extract money from a person who is not legally obligated to pay a penalty shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

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