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Target Shoplifting Policy (2023 Updated)

target shoplifting policy

Have you ever wondered what happens to shoplifters at Target who get caught?

 Most people have stolen something from a store at least once in their lives. Many people shoplift as children or teenagers but very quickly manage to kick the habit. However, for others, shoplifting can become a more serious habit and have serious consequences. Adults that are caught stealing from certain stores may be prosecuted and even end up in jail.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at the Target Shoplifting Policy.

The Shoplifting Policy At Target

What Is Target?

The company has a very strict policy that is designed to prevent and address theft in its stores. People who are caught stealing can face various penalties, ranging from written reports to police involvement. Let’s take a closer look at the elements of the policy and the measures the company takes to deter theft.

Police Involvement

Whether or not the police are involved depends on the value of the items that were stolen. Store managers are likely to turn a blind eye to first-time offenders, especially if they are children or teenagers. However, they are much more likely to involve the police in the case of repeat offenders. 

Pressing Charges

The company is not technically allowed to press charges against people who are caught stealing. Instead, the store manager can file a police report. The company can then issue a civil demand letter asking for monetary compensation for the items stolen. 

Target Shoplifting Policy – Preventative Measures

The company invests money and time in trying to prevent theft. This tends to be much simpler and more effective than having to go through the prosecution process. So, here are some of the main preventative measures that the company employs. 

Security cameras

A large number of security cameras are installed in each store and operate around the clock. This ensures that customers are under constant surveillance from the minute they enter the store. 

In many cases, CCTV cameras are also installed in the store’s parking lots. This allows employees to monitor suspicious behavior in every part of the store and around it. The footage is stored so that it can be checked later if necessary. The videos and images that are recorded can be submitted as evidence of criminal behavior. 

Facial Recognition Software

The company’s security cameras feature modern facial recognition and image analytics. This helps the company to compare images of criminal behavior and flag repeat offenders. When people are caught stealing, this information can be used to prove that they have stolen in the past. 


Radio-Frequency Identification tags are attached to valuable items to help prevent theft. These tags are usually clearly visible and difficult to remove without the proper equipment. An alarm will sound if items bearing these tags are taken out of the store. In some cases, these tags are not obvious, so thieves can get a nasty surprise. 

Asset Protection Security Officers

Asset Protection Security Officers

These professional security guards are hired to deter thieves and catch them in the act. These security guards are employed to patrol stores and observe customers. They may stop and question customers if they believe that person took something without paying for it.

Employee training

All employees who work in a store are trained in how to recognize activity related to theft. They are also taught how to deter theft without physically engaging customers. This includes being clearly visible and asking the potential thief if they need assistance. 


Asset Protection security officers have the power to detain suspected thieves. However, they need to have reasonable evidence against the suspect. Usually, this means that the security officer should have witnessed the theft. They can then ask the suspect to go into the back room so that the incident can be investigated. 

Bag Searches

Permission has to be given by suspects before Target employees can search their bags. However, employees are not legally permitted to search purses and other personal items. When approaching suspects, asset protection security officers try to appear intimidating. This ensures that suspects are more likely to agree to be searched and follow their instructions. 

The ‘No Chase’ Policy

If shoplifters try to run after being spotted, the Asset Protection security officers are not allowed to chase them. Instead, these security guards must maintain observation while following suspects from a safe distance. Employees are not allowed to follow suspects out of the store for safety reasons.

The company puts the safety of other customers and employees ahead of apprehending suspects. If suspects react violently to being apprehended, it could put other customers and employees at risk.

For everyone’s safety…

Instead, security guards may choose to relay the information to the police. However, they need to be certain that theft has occurred before getting the police involved. 

If an Asset Protection security officer believes someone has stolen something, they will follow them to the cash register. If the suspect does not pay for the item, the security guard will stand beside the doors just inside the store. They will then ask to see the receipt of the suspect and check their bags. However, the suspect has the right to refuse this request. 

Building Cases

The company may decide to build cases against people who have stolen from stores more than once. Store managers often choose to wait until the value of the items stolen reaches a felony-level charge. This will allow the store manager to contact the police and press charges against the thief. 



Many managers keep records of people who have been seen shoplifting but have not been caught red-handed. There is often a binder that includes surveillance images of these people. These images can be used as evidence and can help to build cases in the future.

Each store manager also keeps careful records of items that have been stolen from the store. The details of the item are recorded along with the date that it was stolen. If possible, surveillance images of the theft are also matched to those items. 

What Happens To Shoplifters?

The law on punishing shoplifters can vary slightly between different states. The store manager and Asset Protection security officer have to follow the law at all times. However, certain procedures are usually followed when thieves are apprehended.

A security officer will usually detain the thief and try to resolve the issue in the store. First, the thief will be encouraged to replace the item they attempted to steal. They will receive an automatic ban from the store, and their details will be kept on record.

The value of items stolen…

If the thief gives back the items, photographs will be taken of the items. The goods will then be placed back on the store shelves. If the items are soiled or damaged, the thief will usually be asked to pay for them. 

If the stolen items have a high value, the store manager may decide to contact the police. This could also be the case if the thief has been detained in the past and banned from the store. Fines or more serious charges may then be leveled against the thief. 


If a thief is caught and the police become involved, the thief can face charges of felony shoplifting. For charges to be leveled, the value of the stolen items needs to be between $500 and $1,000. The exact value of the items can vary slightly in different parts of the United States.

If the items the thief took are valued at less than $500, the charge is usually reduced to a misdemeanor. A shoplifting charge may be listed under petty theft. The charge is usually suspended unless the thief is caught again within a year. 

The Penalty For Employees

The Penalty For Employees

Like customers, Target employees who are caught stealing will be banned from the company’s stores. This means that they will immediately lose their jobs. Not only will this cause a loss of revenue, but any chance of a reference will also go up in smoke!

Target Forensic Laboratories

Back in 2006, the Washington Post revealed in a now-famous article that Target had built two criminal forensics laboratories. One of these laboratories was established specifically to investigate internal theft and fraud. Fingerprint identification, image analysis, and computer forensics are used in the lab to help solve crimes. 

This has helped the company to identify instances of theft and prevent them more effectively. 

What Else Is Offered At Target?

Whether you’re shopping or working at Target, you might be interested in the return policies, such as the Target Diaper Return Policy if you have a newborn, or perhaps the Target Return Policy After 90 Days, or the Target Return Policy Without Receipt if you’ve lost yours!

Before you head out shopping, learn more about When Does Target Restock for the best deals and merchandise, as well as Does Target Sell Cigarettes, or Does Target Sell Stamps if you’re posting a parcel, and for payment methods, Does Target Take EBT and Does Target Take WIC if you’re on a budget.

Or perhaps you’re eager to apply; if so, take a look at our in-depth guide to the Target Application and most frequently asked Target Interview Questions to help you prepare. And finally, learn more about the company with the Target Mission and Vision Statement Analysis for 2023.

Target Shoplifting Policy – Final Thoughts

According to those in the know, Target is one of the worst companies in the United States to steal from. The company is not shy about punishing people who are caught for their bad behavior.

 The company’s tough policy also extends to employees, who are sure to lose their jobs and face other consequences. Virtually every inch of each of the company’s stores is covered by security cameras. People who are caught in the act will be forced to pay compensation for their crimes. Many thieves have active contracts with the company that forces them to pay the company back over a specified period.

You know what they say…” Don’t do the Crime if you can’t do the Time!”

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