Costco is currently the largest company (by revenue) in Washington State. The company is headquartered in Issaquah, Washington and did 105 Billion in revenue last year. I have recently representing a large number of Defendants charged with Shoplifting at Costco. While Costco is a compassionate company they take losses very seriously, they also do not want to pass on these charges to other customers in the form of price increases. Some of their warehouse locaions experience more than $100,000 per month in retail theft loses. If you have been accused of shoplifting at a Costco warehouse location you should know that your situation is serious.
I recently represented three different defendants who were charged with Theft in the 3rd degree at Kirkland Costco, Federal Way Costco and Issaquah Costco in the Seattle area. Keep in mind that, unlike other retailers, Costco has a record of your purchases, returns and shopping behavior. Additionally, keep in mind that Costco Loss Prevention has a centralized headquarters in Issaquah and that you should obtain an attorney who knows these Loss Prevention Officers and has worked with them before. Below I have listed the description of these three cases and the results of those cases. Only the names have been changed, these are real cases with real results.
1. Bob (Kirkland Costco)
Bob was an employee of a major corporation in Washington State. His employer performed a security update every 5 years to search his criminal history. Bob was arrested at the Kirkland Costco. Bob was accused of using a towel to cover merchandise and place the merchandise into a backpack that he was allegedly using to hide the goods. Bob approached the register, purchased $120 worth of merchandise and attempted to leave the store with about $20 in unpaid goods. Bob was detained by Costco Loss Prevention.
Bob was cooperative, he did not attempt to fight officers, swear at them or confront them. While he was being detained the Loss Prevention Officers called police. Bob was sited for Theft in the Third Degree at Costco and released on personal recognizance.
Bob retained me to represent him. I contacted Costco Loss Prevention Officers and they reviewed Bob's membership purchase history, return history and buying habits. Costco determined that Bob did not have a history of stealing at Costco. I drafted a written agreement with Costco loss prevention, Costco agreed to drop all criminal charges and my client agreed to not return to Costco for 24 months. After 24 months my client is free to re-apply for a membership and resume his life as normal. Bob received no criminal consequences for these charges, but his Costco membership has been suspended for 24 months.
2. Suzy (Federal Way Costco)
Suzy was a student at a major University in the Seattle area. Suzy was charged with shoplifting clothing that was placed in her purse at the Federal Way Costco. Suzy placed multiple items of clothing into her purse and attempted to leave the Costco location. Loss Prevention officers stopped her and asked to look into her purse. She complied and loss prevention officers located the clothing.
Suzy had a previous history of Shoplifting at another clothing store. Costco loss prevention officers pressed forward with criminal charges. After extensive negotiation with the prosecution I revealed to the prosecution that my client was dealing with mental health issues and presented the prosecution with a notebook filled with Suzy's appointment meeting notes from her mental health care provider.
I was able to secure a 12 month "Stipulated Order of Continuance" for my client. This means that if she does not commit any additional crimes for the next 12 months that the charges will be dropped. Additionally, Suzy must take an online Theft Class. Suzy is still on her Stipulated Order of Continuance "SOC" so I hope she takes the class seriously and does not commit any additional crimes for 12 months. IF she does this the case will be dismissed.
3. Julie (Issaquah Costco)
Julie was a housewife and accused of stealing a number of CD's and DVD's. The value of the items was low and the evidence the prosecutor had was weak. Julie voluntairily gave up her Costco membership for 2 years.
I negotiated an arrangement with Costco and the charges were dismissed. Julie only had to take a couple of hours of work to attend one court appearance. Case Dismissed!
TIPS IF YOU ARE DETAINED BY COSTCO LOSS PREVENTION
1. BE POLITE! Do not swear or be disrespectful to security personell. Your attorney will need to contact them at some point and being disrespectful toward them will not help your case.
2. MAKE NO STATEMENTS! Do not apologize for taking anything and admit no fault. Simply state "I do not wish to make any statements without an attorney present." Don't try to talk your way our of it by admiting fault. Additionally, if and when police are called do not make any statements to police.
3. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING! Loss prevention officers may ask you to sign a confession or ask you to sign an "order of trespass." You have a right to have an attorney review any documents that Loss Prevention Officers or Police ask you to sign. Signing a confession or order of trespass may have legal implications that you do not understand. Remember rule #1, Be Polite, but respectfully decline to sign documents.
4. CONTACT JOHN T LAWI'll sit down with you and talk about your rights. Being convicted of 3rd degree theft at Costco can result in jail time and a criminal record.
For More information see our Shoplifting & Theft in the 3rd Degree Webpage.