Can stores do this?

The local CompUSA has a sign which states “we reserve the right to inspect all briefcases and backpacks.” Do they have the right to do that?

Of course they have the right; the store is private property. The Constitutional right to protection against unreasonable search & seizure only applies to the government.

Check out Cecil’s take on a similar question.

They could also require you to leave your clothes with the changing room guard when you inspect your new suit in the mirror.

There are some limits, though. They cannot have hidden cameras in the changing room even if they post a notice about it.

Property might be 9/10’s of the law, but insist on keeping the other 1/10 for the rest of us.

The key concept here is that you, in turn, have the right to not shop at that store. Hence, if you really value your privacy, you can keep it.

Not on the OP, but this was discussed a while back. The initial saying was “property is nine points of the law.” Along the way, that was misconstrued as “.9 of the law,” but that was not what it meant, in spite of what Black’s Law Dictionary states. Abstracted from the common law were nine points concerning property.

It’s not just searching your handbags. It’s any rules they wish to create and display prominently, and enforce. As mentioned above, this is NOT public property. I’ve got two kids, and I was always aware ( when they were younger ) of stores that prohibited food or drink. That’s usually aimed at juice boxes, bottles or juice cups.

Never pissed me off. After all, I don’t have some god-given right to let my child stroll by the ladies’ leather coats rack in Macy’s and spill milk all down the sleeve of a $ 1,200.00 full length coat. One has very specific rights when shopping, almost all of which have to do with A)Credit and personal info privacy, and B) Non-Discriminatory practices on the part of the Company.

I must say, I’ve almost never been in a store where policy wasn’t BLATANTLY displayed on placards or posters as you entered. Additional policy is always posted as you enter a changing room. You are, after all, carrying around property that is NOT yours, and putting it on your body. I always check and make sure I can take the number of items that I’m toting around, as I go into the stall.


I work in a record store in a mall, and we might as well post a sign that reads “If you set off the alarm, store personel will subject to gentle questions about whether or not you have something in your pocket-from another store, of course!-that is causing the beeping. Say yes and go about your business.” The requirements for what we do when we think someone is shoplifting are incredibly vague. Granted, we don’t carry any as valuable as a computer store. However, to combat employee theft, we’re supposed to do bag checks on each other when we leave the store. If you don’t have a bag, you’re supposed to pat YOURSELF down to make sure you don’t have any merchandise on you.

ME: I had better check myself to make sure I haven’t swiped anything from the store… oh my gosh! Look what I just found under my coat: 5 N’Sync CD’s and a Britney Spears Poster! Call security! Call the police before I get away!

(Of course, I should probably be thrown in jail for even suggesting that N’Sync and Britney Spears stuff are worthy of even being stolen.)

"“we reserve the right to inspect all briefcases and

Sure, they can even refuse to let you in the store if you won’t leave your backpack at the counter. Lots of stores in California insist that you leave your bags & backpacks at the front counter. :slight_smile: