Where a shopkeeper reasonably believes that a customer is stealing merchandise, they are afforded certain rights including detaining a shopper the suspects of theft. In a situation where a shopkeeper, loss prevention, or security guard has probable cause to believe someone has shoplifted and has concealed items on their person, the shopkeeper can detain the shoplifter. Probable cause requires the shopkeeper to have a reasonable basis to believe that a theft has actually occurred. Additionally, the theft must have occurred in front of the shopkeeper. This is the shopkeepers right to detain in a reasonable manner including, using only reasonable force and detaining the person for a reasonable time period which necessary to determine whether the person has the suspected items .
An example would be if a shopkeeper believes he/she saw a customer putting an item under his/her shirt and the shopkeeper then detains that person and finds that there is nothing under the shirt, the shopkeeper must release the customer. If the shopkeeper uses excessive force or holds the customer for longer than reasonable, the shopkeeper will not be immune from civil or criminal liability for the detention, and may be charged with false imprisonment.