SNACKING or shoplifting?
What does Idaho law have to say about sampling produce like grapes and berries, or snacking on a bag of chips while you shop?
Have you ever wondered? We did, because we're the people who snack before we pay! But back to the legal side of things...[LOL].
According to FindLaw, the difference between snacking and shoplifting is a matter of intent in most states. While some might consider trying-before-buying socially unacceptable, it only becomes shoplifting when, one, a patron takes possession of goods or items for sale, and two, their intent is to "permanently deprive" the owner or vendor of payment.
You might find yourself wondering, "But what about 'Shopkeeper Privilege'? Doesn't that factor into the scenario?" Yes, but it's a gray area.
Shopkeepers Privilege refers to a common law privilege given to shopkeepers whereby they can detain a suspected shoplifter on store property for a reasonable period of time. This can be done only if the shopkeeper has reason to believe that the person detained in fact committed, or attempted to commit, theft of store property.
If or when a shopkeeper enacts Shopkeeper Privilege, the issue becomes highly subjective. For example, a store owner could spot a customer snacking on a cookie from an open, unpaid-for bag of cookies and think they're stealing. Upon approaching the customer, however, he or she could say they had every intent to pay, thrusting the scenario into gray legal territory.