Store responsibility for bags they hold/check

Something I’ve wondered about on and off for a while, and since I’m temping at a bookstore for a while it’s about time I asked.

We’ve all been in stores that demand that all bags, backpacks, etc. be checked behind the counter before a patron can enter the store. The idea is to deter shoplfting. What if any legal liability does the store assume in taking custody/control of the bag?

I know you’re not a lawyer, or if you are you’re not my lawyer, and you’re not giving me legal advice and laws will vary by jurisdiction.

As you know, civil law is not my bailiwick.

When you give someone else your property for safekeeping, you have created a bailment. I seem to recall that there are three general kinds of bailments: those solely for the benefit of the bailee, like a gratuitous loan for use (“Sure, you can borrow my bike;”) solely for the benefit of the bailor (“Can you keep my bike until I move into my new apartment?”) and those which benefit both parties (“I’ll give you $20 to rent your bike for a week.”)

As a general proposition, the bailee must exercise reasonable care to protect the property. As the needle swings more towards the benefit of the bailee, and less towards the benefit of the bailor, the degree of care required may change.

These are all vaguely-remembered bullet points from a long-ago class.

Let’s have someone who knows what they’re talking about come along and flesh out some detail…

Ah! Bailment, that was the word I was trying to remember! I thought maybe there was something from one of my business law classes from oh-so-many years ago.

Per my old business law notes, dug out from a file drawer unopened since last century:

The standard of care for a mutual benefit bailment is “reasonable care”;
The S.O.C. for a bailee benefit bailment is “utmost care”; and
The S.O.C. for a bailor benefit bailment is “relaxed care.”

At least in Wisconsin. So to answer my own question, the store would be held to the standard of “utmost care” when holding a customer’s bag.