Retail Theft at Wal-Mart


In the case of Toccara McClover versus the State of Florida, Ms. McClover was convicted of retail theft at a Wal-Mart store. The facts of her case are that:


"A security guard at a Wal–Mart store in Port St. Lucie, Florida testified that on surveillance cameras he watched two females come into the store in the early morning hours and select expensive electronic items which they placed in their shopping cart. They then headed to the garden center. No cash register was open in the center at that time of night. One woman waited near an emergency exit in the garden center with the cart of merchandise while McClover left the store through the front entrance. McClover was not seen taking anything from the store. Upon leaving the store McClover was seen making a phone call. At the same time, the other woman, who was still in the store next to the cart, was seen talking on her phone. Right away she walked away from the merchandise and left the store without taking anything, leaving the items near the back exit of the store.

Suspicious of the women, the security guard had called the police who were in the parking lot by the time McClover left the store. The security guard followed the females out of the store and saw them get into a car. He went to the police vehicle and pointed out the car with the women in it. The police stopped them in the next plaza and found merchandise from another Wal–Mart in the trunk. A security guard from that other Wal–Mart reviewed his store's surveillance tapes and found video of the same two women in his store. He also came to the place where the police stopped the women and identified his store's merchandise in their vehicle."
McClover appealed her conviction, and the court of appeals reversed her conviction and sent it back to the trial court for a new trial. In doing so, the court of appeals thought it important that:
  1. McClover put goods in a shopping cart, like any other shopper
  2. She did not leave the store with any unpaid merchandise.
  3. The woman with McClover likewise did not leave the store with any unpaid merchandise.
  4. McClover did not conceal the merchandise.
  5. She did not place the merchandise in another container.
  6. McClover did not alter product codes; and
  7. She did not alter price tags.

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