VIC Legal advice to help shoplifter daughter (18)

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20 June 2021
About a week ago my daughter (18 years old) was caught shoplifting at our local Coles supermarket.

Because I only got her side of the story after the fact, when I came to pick her up, I can't be 100% sure of how accurate her account of events are, but this is what she told me:
- She was apprehended by a security guard after leaving the shop, who had seen her on CCTV putting items in her bag. They retrieved the items (valued at "maybe $25 or so") and told her to pay for them if she wanted them still, but she declined and left them with the security guard.
- She had already paid for a few other items using her debit card, which is in her own name and linked to our home address (she still lives at home).
- Amazingly, the police weren't called, they didn't ask for her ID (or even for her name and contact details, nor was she photographed) and she wasn't told she was banned from the shop - just "don't do it again".

Honestly I'm amazed that they let her off so lightly, but maybe it's just because she looks young?

We had a long talk a few nights ago about her behaviour and she admitted that she's been shoplifting "here and there" ever since the start of the pandemic. I can't get much detail out of her about what she's taken and from where - she says she doesn't really remember and that they're "mostly small items" like stationery, junk food and even toys (she's 18!!), from places like Coles, Kmart, etc. When I asked her why she would steal things like that, that a) we can easily afford to buy her, and b) she already has plenty of and access to, she just cried and said "I don't know". She has suffered from mental health problems for several years now (OCD and generalised anxiety disorder, both diagnosed by a psychiatrist), but I don't know if that's got anything to do with this behaviour, or if it could be considered any sort of defence.

I guess what I'm concerned about now is the likelihood of being contacted by the police (or even other store security personnel) about her various "here and there" shoplifting over the past year or so. And if the police do contact her, what will the likely repercussions be? Fortunately her father and I have the financial means to pay for whatever she's stolen, or if she's issued with fines, but I'm very worried about the effect on her future if she's actually charged and/or has to go to court. What should we be expecting? Her father doesn't know about any of this yet, and I want to know what she/we might be facing before talking to him. Is it likely that store security (either from our local Coles or elsewhere) will identify her from old CCTV footage and bring charges against her weeks/months later?

All I can think of right now is to tell her to keep away from anywhere she remembers shoplifting from before, to lower the chances of being recognised. I've also cut up her personal debit card, so that now she can only use her "emergency" debit card connected to a family account, which will allow me to keep tabs on her a bit. Is there anything else I can do? I don't want to seem like I condone her behaviour, obviously, but at the same time I want to protect her as much as possible, and I think she genuinely has learned a lesson from the fright of being caught.

TLDR: 18 year old daughter caught shoplifting from Coles by store security, items retrieved, no police called, security didn't ask for her ID (or photograph her, or obtain any other personal details), but she did use her own debit card beforehand. How likely is it that she could be tracked down via that, and linked to past offences?


Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
Your concerns are unfounded. They appear to have let her off with a warning. They are not going to go scrolling through CCTV to find her. They won't track her down via card details.