"Some Of These Stores Have Facial Recognition": This Lawyer's PSA Is Going Viral On TikTok
In the last couple of years, retailers have complained that a spike in theft (known as "shrink" in the biz) is cutting into their profits. Theft has also been blamed for store closures — even though that's not really the whole story as factors like remote work and online shopping have really changed the retail game.
According to 29-year-old Florida-based public defender Alexa Rimmer, some stores are turning to facial recognition to crack down on sticky-fingered shoppers. In a TikTok that's been viewed over 1.6 million times, she shared how she's been seeing these cases come across her desk, sometimes years after the alleged offense.
In the video, Alexa explains, "I'm not endorsing or condoning any criminal behavior, but I'm just here to tell you that some of these stores have facial recognition technology. So I've been getting cases recently where some of my clients have had sticky fingers and no one stops them. No one questions them. They walk on out of the store."
"The cameras at some of these stores have identified them with their software, and then a warrant goes out and they don't get arrested on it. Months or sometimes years later — I just got a case that's from 2020. So this person has gone three years without knowing that they were about to get hit with a felony for theft."
And in the comments, even law-abiding citizens felt nervous as a result of this information. One commenter wrote, "I don't even do this but I'm still convinced that I am about to be arrested."
Others wondered if self-checkout oopsies count, because who hasn't accidentally rung up the wrong number of bananas?
And retail workers shared how the stores they've worked for have handled theft in their experience. One person said that their store would typically wait until the theft reached a certain dollar amount before prosecuting.
And others shared that retailers might also be able to access information about you from your phone, which adds a whole new layer of unsettling to the mix.
In a follow-up video, Alexa said it was a case involving Lowe's, wherein the store pursued charges years after the alleged incident, that had inspired her to post about it to TikTok. Lowe's did not respond to a request for comment.
Currently, New York City is the only municipality in the US where retailers are required to post a sign notifying customers that they're using facial recognition technology. And FaceFirst, one of the leading companies providing this tech, doesn't list its clients publicly, making it hard to know which companies are using it. So, to be on the safe side, you should probably just assume you're being monitored and tracked in some way any time you set foot in a store.
Alexa told BuzzFeed that she's been practicing law for four years and loves being a public defender. "I wanted to pursue public defense because I strongly believe in the Constitutional right to counsel. I have actually branched out to different areas of law in my career, but I didn't feel the same fulfillment as I do now. I find my job very rewarding!"
And she shared some misconceptions people have about shoplifting. "People often think if no one stops you after walking out of the store, then you are home free. On the other hand, people will also think that if the store's loss prevention officer stops you and recovers the items that there is not any more criminal liability. I see cases often where the items allegedly taken were returned to the store and the store will still seek prosecution against these individuals."
Alexa also shared what kinds of punishments people face in her state following a shoplifting conviction. "In Florida, there are different theft statutes where the possible maximum sentence for a petit theft charge can vary from 60 days in jail for a misdemeanor to up to five years for a felony charge."
"Those with a more extensive criminal background are more likely to face jail or prison time, whereas first-time offenders can be offered a diversion program where they are able to keep their record clear if they successfully complete a theft related class and community service. Probation is a common sentence, often including a requirement to pay back the value of the items taken in restitution payments paid back to the store the items were alleged to be taken from."
And she has some tips for anyone who's reading this: "I would highly recommend people to be familiar with their state's statutes as they can drastically vary. I also recommend anytime someone may be facing legal trouble to remain silent and request a lawyer. Be polite but firm in your statements to the police. No one has ever talked their way out of being arrested! Know your rights so you can help your attorney defend you!"
Unrest has emerged among Russian invaders due to the almost complete absence of rotation of soldiers drafted under general mobilization, Ukraine’s HUR Intelligence Main Directorate said on Dec. 8, releasing an audio interception as evidence.
Hostages released by Hamas have described weeks of fear and hunger inside the warren of tunnels beneath Gaza, and called on the world not to forget about those still in captivity. Brother and sister Itay and Maya Regev were at the Supernova festival on 7 October when armed Hamas gunmen opened fire, killing more than 350 people. "The days there pass like an eternity," Itay said, sitting next to his sister in the video.
Germany may have to wage a defensive war against Russia in the future, German televisions news program Tagesschau reported on Dec. 9, citing Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) Inspector General Carsten Breuer.
A teenager who fatally shot four classmates two years ago at his high school has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Ethan Crumbley was just 15-years-old when he opened fire on 30 November 2021, with a semi-automatic handgun his father had bought him as a Christmas gift days earlier. Along with the four classmates he killed, Crumbley wounded six other students and a teacher at the school in Oxford Township, about 40 miles north of Detroit.