A couple of days ago I came into contact with a store detective after a quite expensive shopping trip. The shoplifting gate-thingy went off (there's more to it but no need to drag it out) and when I was already outside, the store detective approached me, eventually even grabbed me and tried to rip my shopping bag off my shoulder. I had to call for help and the guy only let go when he saw other people approaching to help me.

He was later joined by a second "detective" and they both refused to let me leave (cornered me in front of a different store) - they didn't even want to let me use the toilet. Eventually the police showed up, checked my bag (the second "detective" looked at the receipt to check) and proved that I indeed hadn't stolen anything, as I'd said at least 10 times.

I can't find any information about Austria, so I hope that someone here'll be able to help me: What is a store detective legally allowed to do?

  1. Do I have to answer any questions (e.g. if I bought anything at that store)?
  2. Do I have to show them a receipt?
  3. Are they allowed to check my backpack/shopping bag/... without my permission?
  4. Are they allowed to grab someone without consent?
  5. Are they allowed to take away a bag forcefully?
  6. Are they allowed to follow me outside the shop?
  7. When the police show up, does any of that change or are only they allowed to check my bag,...?

So basically: What can I do now? I'm not physically hurt but I'm completely over the place since then - not sleeping well, getting kind of shaky when I think about this (and incredibly angry)?


Here is what the Austrian law says in this case (Google translation):

Bag control in the supermarket: There is no obligation to have your bag checked by supermarket staff or security guards. If there is a reasonable suspicion, the supermarket staff can ask a suspect to wait for the police to arrive. The police can then check the bag.

In this Austrian newspaper article (in German) they say about this topic

If a person is injured during the arrest because of a low value item or if an expensive item is damaged, the detective might be liable for it.

As long as they don't start searching your bags, they are allowed to hold on to you till police arrives. I would complain to the shop owner about the detectives and their behavior via mail, this is probably the most efficient thing what one can do.

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