Home English SPAR on campus asked employees to conduct illegal bag checks

The manager of the SPAR university on the Radboud campus has called on his employees to perform bag checks when theft is suspected. However, until the store updates its house rules, this form of bag checks are in violation of the law.

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Due to the high occurrence of theft in the SPAR university on the campus of the Radboud university, the store has already stepped up its surveillance. For example, the store conducts random checks of customers and strives to always have an employee at the checkout plaza. To further deter theft, the store manager recently called on his employees to check the bags of suspected thieves. Although bag checks have already taken place, these are currently not allowed by law. 

By law, store employees are only allowed to check customers’ bags in two cases. First, bag checks are allowed when thieves are caught in the act. Mere suspicion is insufficient – the thief must really be caught in the act. In addition, bag checks by employees are permitted when the possibility of bag checks is mentioned in the house rules (‘huisregels’). These house rules must then be clearly visible near the entrance of the store.

However, the SPAR house rules do not make mention of possible bag checks. As long as the house rules do not mention anything about bag checks, only the police are authorized to conduct bag checks based on suspicion. SPAR plans to update its house rules, store manager Nils Jacobs says. 

According to Jacobs, theft is running rampant. ‘Many students think it is normal to steal. For about three months we have been conducting random checks, but since then students have started sneaking things into their bags,’ Jacobs says. This could be seen on camera footage and prompted the introduction of bag checks. The fine for shoplifting is €181.


Besides the fact that the bag checks are currently not allowed by law, an anonymous SPAR employee says it is infeasible to conduct them. ‘I don’t think we have time for bag checks, because the flow of students through the store is too large,’ the employee explains.

The relatively high prices charged by SPAR are frequently cited as a reason for the high theft rate. According to an anonymous source, there is consensus among employees that the prices the store charges are ‘outrageously high’, because ‘in general, students are poor’ and have to pay too much for food on campus.

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