What Does Walmart Do to Shoplifters

People Shopping At A Walmart Store In South San Francisco Bay Area

Are you wondering what Walmart does if they catch someone shoplifting from their store? If you or someone you know is considering attempting a “five-finger discount” at Walmart, you should reconsider.

Walmart Loss Prevention takes theft very seriously, and they implement a broad array of consequences to punish shoplifters and deter future theft.


Walmart and its Loss Prevention division are serious about theft.

Any merchandise that leaves their store unpaid represents lost money for Walmart, and when spread across the broad swath of Walmart stores, these losses can combine to form staggering sums.

There are several consequences shoplifters face from Walmart.

These can vary by the state the theft was attempted in, the cost of the goods that were attempted to be taken, and the Loss Prevention employee tasked with dealing with the shoplifter.

The consequences range from no punishment to signing a form stating you won’t return to Walmart or a Walmart-owned property for at least a year to the police being summoned and the thief being incarcerated.

As a company, Walmart has several ways to detect potential thieves, including cameras, counterfeit money tests, and plainclothes “secret shoppers,” who are Walmart Loss Prevention employees disguised as shoppers.

This article will cover most of the known ways that Walmarts monitors and deters theft (as a company, Walmart does not disclose all of its loss prevention tactics).

Walmart takes theft seriously and meets out punishment accordingly. The company also has a strong anti-theft team called “Loss Prevention” that employs several methods to monitor for, track, and deter shoplifting.

What Happens to Shoplifters at Walmart?

What happens to shoplifters at Walmart depends on several factors. These include the Loss Prevention employee who detects the theft, local laws, and the amount of merchandise that was attempted to be stolen.

Let’s examine some of the likeliest consequences if someone tries to shoplift from a Walmart:

1. No Punishment

Walmart Changes Customer Wearing Face Mask Shopping

It is possible to be caught shoplifting from Walmart and receive no punishment.

This is a likely outcome if the attempted theft was a mistake, for example, accidentally neglecting to scan a small item at a self-checkout.

There are numerous reports of customers checking out and paying for several hundred dollars of goods and accidentally forgetting to scan an item with a small price tag.

If Loss Prevention notices this, either from monitoring you checking out or through an alarm sounding, expect to be confronted by them.

While an unscanned item like this can seem like a trivial accident, it is still considered theft according to the laws of most states.

Fortunately, Loss Prevention tends to understand accidents like this, and you’ll likely be told to scan the item you missed and pay for it before you’re allowed to continue your day.

Loss prevention usually will take you to the security office

If you attempt to steal anything from Walmart, the first thing that happens after Loss Prevention apprehends you is that they’ll take you to the security office after you try to leave the store.

Once inside the security office, Loss Prevention will take a photograph of you and subject you to questions. You decide to either answer their questions or remain silent.

The shoplifter’s name and likeness will also be run through the Walmart database, and Loss Prevention will try to determine if that person is a chronic thief at Walmart stores.

Walmart Loss Prevention also coordinates with Loss Prevention at similar retailers, such as Target, Sam’s Club, and Costco. It will contact those stores to see if they have any further information about the shoplifter.

2. May Be Required To Make Payments

Walmart Customers Check Out Line, Cashier Counter

Suppose someone is caught shoplifting an item from Walmart, but the item is not expensive, and the shoplifter has no history of theft from the store. In that case, Walmart may punish the shoplifter for making payments.

A lawyer representing Walmart will draft a form letter informing the person who attempted to steal goods that they must make payments that are exponentially greater than the cost of the merchandise that the person tried to shoplift.

A $50 item may require repayment of $500, for example.

The shoplifter will be put on a payment plan if they can’t make the payment out of pocket, and Walmart will press charges if the shoplifter is delinquent on their payments.

3. Sign a Form To Not Shop at Walmart

Rows With Products In Walmart

Again, these punishments range from state to state, as well as the Loss Prevention employee who detains the shoplifter and the cost of goods that were attempted to be stolen.

Sometimes, the attempted shoplifter must sign a form if the merchandise is inexpensive. This form states that they will not shop at Walmart for a year or step foot on any property owned by Walmart.

After the year ends, the person may resume shopping at Walmart, though their name, picture, and information will be in the Walmart system, and any further attempted theft will likely be dealt with severely.

4. The Shoplifter May Go to Jail

Walmart Departmental Store In Hartford

If the attempted theft is of an item that was hundreds of dollars, or if the shoplifter has been caught stealing before, Loss Prevention may immediately notify the police.

The police will collect the thief from the Walmart security office and transport them to the local jail.

5. The Shoplifter May Be Issued a Summons

Walmart Supermarket Employees Are Sorting The Products

Again, these consequences range from state to state and are at the discretion of the Loss Prevention associate. If they contact the police, the police may issue a summons that requires you to appear in court, then release you.

If you fail to report to the court on the day and time specified, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. If and when the police confront you, you will be taken to jail and issued a new court date.

How Does Walmart Monitor Shoplifters?

Walmart employs a variety of techniques to monitor for and deter shoplifting. While the company does not publicly list all its tactics for reducing loss, they use several widely known methods.

The Walmart employees responsible for monitoring theft are known as “Loss Prevention.”

1. Security Cameras

Security Camera In Use At Walmart

Look up at any Walmart, and you will see a black orb or another type of camera. Smile, you’re on camera!

These cameras all recorded footage of the store, and someone within Loss Prevention monitors the live feed and looks for suspicious activity.

The video feed is displayed on several monitors in the security room.

If the Loss Prevention employee notes suspicious activity, they will likely coordinate with another employee working the floor and have them shadow the person suspected of shoplifting.

Loss prevention monitors for counterfeit money

Walmart employees are also on the lookout for counterfeit money. Any counterfeiters who attempt to pass forged notes at Walmart are typically punished to the fullest extent of the law.

2. Loss Prevention Has Plain Clothes Shoppers

Women Shopping At Walmart

These plain clothes shoppers, sometimes known as “secret shoppers,” coordinate their movements with the person monitoring the cameras in the security office.

If someone is suspected of shoplifting, or it is thought that they will attempt to shoplift, a plain clothes Loss Prevention person will try to observe the shoplifter discreetly.

3. Monitor Shoppers Who Enter the Bathroom With Merchandise

Shopping Cart View On A Supermarket Aisle And Shelves

The bathroom is a prime spot where shoplifters can increase their likelihood of successfully stealing from the store.

As there are no cameras in the bathroom, potential shoplifters can remove security tags from merchandise and hide merchandise under their clothing or in purses, backpacks, or other bags.

Because of this, Walmart does not allow customers to bring merchandise into the bathrooms, and Loss Prevention closely monitors shoppers who enter the bathrooms.

Walmart Takes Shoplifting Seriously

Walmart Retailer Storefront Customer Entrance

Since shoplifters walk away with staggering amounts of goods from various Walmart locations, Walmart takes shoplifting seriously.

They employ multiple techniques to monitor for and deter shoplifting, and the punishments they enact range from mild to jail time.

Walmart has a division known as Loss Prevention, which is responsible for tamping down on shoplifting activity. They use security cameras and plain clothes shoppers and are on the lookout for counterfeit money.

Loss Prevention also monitors shoppers who enter the bathroom with merchandise, and they are often responsible for the ultimate consequences a shoplifter faces.

Punishments for shoplifting vary based on the state you’re in, the Loss Prevention person responsible, and the cost of the goods that were attempted to be stolen.

Sometimes, a shoplifter may be allowed to pay for the item and leave the store – generally, when the thing was taken mistakenly.

Other times, the shoplifter may be forced to make payments far greater than the item that was attempted to be stolen.

Other possible punishments include jail time, a summons to appear in court, and not shopping at Walmart for a year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Cashiers Do About Shoplifters?

Cashiers, stockers, and other Walmart associates are instructed not to interfere with shoplifters. They cannot detain suspects, either.

Doing so will result in that employee’s termination, and they will be barred from working for Walmart again.

Walmart associates are instructed to “observe and report” any suspected activity to Loss Prevention.

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