Expert Advice
Interpellation, les astuces

Interpellation, basic rules and legal aspects

Presumption of innocence, customer reassurance, discretion… There are guidelines to follow in order to harmlessly intercept a suspect of theft.

When it becomes inevitable and a client is determined to commit theft, what should we do ? Intrusive behaviour or hasty accusations from staff members can be very harmful to the company’s reputation and also from a legal point of view. It is important to act with caution and discreton, and the zone of intervention should be limited to the area between the checkout and the exit of the store.

Good-to-know : In France, this offence can lead to up to three years imprisonment and a fine of 45 000 €.

Presumption of innocence :
• « You have something on you that makes the system alarm »
• « Let’s just check to avoid any inconvenience at another store. »

Reassurance :
• « We have a device that can identify what the problem is »

Discretion :
• Step in disrcreetly with the hand-held detector in order to preserve the confidentiality of exchanges with the person concerned.


• Arrest using only strictly necessary force, in proportion to the attitude of the person in question, try to immobilize without striking.
• Keep the person involved under control while waiting for law enforcement.


• Ask the customer to open his/her personal bag or pockets for checking or control, but the customer can refuse.
• Ask the person concerned for an identity card, but they have the right to refuse (in case of refusal, the only solution for the store is to hand this person over to the police, the only competent authority to carry out identity checks).


• Arrest with brutality (conditions relating to self-defense of persons and goods adhere to strict rules). Don’t respond to provocation, don’t make threats or insult the offender.
• Searching the person (searches can only be carried out by a judicial officer according to article 56 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
• Unfairly detain the suspect without notifying law enforcement.
• Use physical or moral pressure (Punches, extortion).