A misdemeanor must be committed in the presence of a cop (with certain exceptions not applicable here). However, a store/merchant/individual can make a citizen's arrest, which is just as valid as an arrest by a police officer. Usually, the citizen making the citizen's arrest will ask for "assistance" from the police, and that is how the police get involved in shoplifting cases.
The store has one year from the date they discovered the theft to make a "citizen's arrest" of your friend.
What they might be doing is tryng to connect the car with an address so they can send a "civil demand letter" asking for several hundreds of dollars from your friend as "damages." Most lawyers will advise that these civil demand letters are not followed up upon. I would have your friend check the AVVO legal area which contains articles written by participating lawyers about these "civil demand letters."
The police could come to his home. More than likely it was store security or a private investigations company employed by the store. This is likely the case since he was approached by Loss Prevention. They may try to criminally prosecute him.
Seth Weinstein, Esq.
Practicing throughout Southern California
This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply.
Sounds like a lot of work, but besides the shoplift, you also could be looking at evasion and maybe a civil demand is in the works. Speak with counsel, it is not worth skulking around.
Have a few locally experienced criminal defense attorneys in mind in the event you are contacted by the store and/or law enforcement and DO NOT make ANY statements at all.
Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555
I agree with my colleagues. If he is approached and questioned by anyone, including the police, about this incident, he should refuse to answer any questions or make any statements without an attorney present.
Legal disclaimer: The answer provided is general in nature and because not all facts are known, it should not be construed as legal advice. The answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.