Do all companies automatically call the police when they suspect a property crime? You may be surprised to learn that not everyone who is accused of shoplifting in New York is required to see the inside of a police car – or a courtroom, for that matter. New corporate loss-prevention strategies espoused by big names like Wal-Mart are keeping defendants from being in legal hot water because of a shoplifting allegation. Here is their new approach.

Should companies take the law into their own hands? In many cases, we may say that corporations should stay out of criminal legal matters – even when it comes to theft crimes like shoplifting. But, some companies argue that there is a better way to deter shoplifting. They call it “restorative justice.” This system, which has so far been deployed in more than 1,000 Wal-Mart stores, gives first-time, low-risk offenders a chance to take a class instead of being arrested and charged. The defendants must pay a nominal fee for the class.

What are the benefits of this “restorative justice” model? Both law enforcement and the company are seeing benefits, with Wal-Mart cutting down on law enforcement calls nationwide by about 35 percent. That is a massive shift toward allowing law enforcement to deal with other community issues – and it could very well benefit those who would otherwise face a theft charge conviction.

What if I’m not eligible for the program? Although companies are moving toward this type of internal control, there are still cases in which shoplifting will be considered as a criminal offense. New York residents who need help in court may benefit from the services of a professional attorney who can advocate for their rights throughout a criminal defense proceeding.

Source: The Motley Fool, “Wal-Mart Has a Unique Way to Cut Down on Shoplifting,” Daniel B. Kline, March 28, 2017