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Shoplifting Is Big Business

a woman is holding her purse in her hand

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) reports some staggering statistics. There are 27 million shoplifters in the United States today. This averages to about one out of every 11 persons. You might think shoplifting is a crime associated with teenagers, but out of this group, 75 percent are adults, and only 25 percent are minors.

Shoplifting is usually impulsive, not premeditated (only 25 percent planned to steal). Shoplifters say they are caught only once in 48 tries (that’s barely 2 percent).

NASP also reports these fascinating insights:

  • Most shoplifters are “non-professionals,” meaning that they don’t steal because of need or greed, but because of personal life pressures.
  • The excitement of “not getting caught” creates a chemical reaction akin to “getting high.”
  • Drug addicts often describe shoplifting as equally addictive.
  • Estimates peg annual U.S. shoplifting costs at $46 million to $55 million.


Retail Theft

“Shoplifting” is more specifically known as retail theft, defined in Florida Statutes 812.015 as:

“The taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents; altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.”

There is a dizzying array of criminal penalties for this act. The penalty will depend on the value of the merchandise and whether the suspect has shoplifted before. Shoplifting is serious—even if a stolen item costs less than $100, a defendant can face 60 days county jail time. If the merchandise is valued at more than $300 but less than $5,000, the crime may constitute grand theft and a felony, subjecting the suspect to five years in state prison (Florida Statutes 812.014).

Defenses and Pretrial Programs

A skilled criminal defense attorney can help a person who has been accused of theft. Some common defenses include:

  • The customer left the store inadvertently (for example, to get his wallet) or for other reasons (for example, to safeguard his child)
  • The customer forgot the item was in her shopping cart
  • Price tags were changed by someone else
  • Poorly recorded images (videotape or other electronic means)
  • Mistaken identity

For a first time offender, where the value is relatively small (petit theft), fortunately, there is a Pretrial Intervention (PTI) program in Florida. If available, that is a way to avoid entering a plea or proceeding to trial. Basically, this is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant, in which the suspect agrees to certain conditions (for example, community service, attending classes, paying restitution to the victim). The goal is to rehabilitate the accused and deter him from committing future crimes. Some states call these “diversion programs” (because the case is diverted away from the courts). However, it is important to recognize that PTI is not always available (for example, if the victim objects, or if this is not the defendant’s first offense).

Arrested? Under Investigation? Charged With a Crime? Call a St. Petersburg, Florida, Criminal Attorney Today for Help

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, don’t delay. The criminal court system is overwhelming and confusing for most. Trust the experienced, caring professionals at Khonsari Law Group. Call us right away at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online. Our team will make you our priority and help to put your mind at ease. We are seasoned criminal defense attorneys and will answer your questions, evaluate your circumstances, and discuss your options.

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