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Theft of merchandise from a store or business establishment.

Although the crime of shoplifting may be prosecuted under general Larceny statutes, most jurisdictions have established a specific category for shoplifting. Statutes vary widely, but generally the elements of shoplifting are (1) willfully taking possession of or concealing unpurchased goods that are offered for sale (2) with the intention of converting the merchandise to the taker's personal use without paying the purchase price. Possession or concealment of goods typically encompasses actions both on and outside the premises.

Concealment is generally understood in terms of common usage. Therefore, covering an object to keep it from sight constitutes concealment, as would other methods of hiding an object from a shop owner. A shopper's actions and demeanor in the store, her lack of money to pay for merchandise, and the placement of an object out of a retailer's direct view are all examples of Circumstantial Evidence that may establish intent.

Shoplifting costs businesses billions of dollars every year. To enable store owners to recoup some of their losses, most states have enacted civil recovery or civil demand statutes. These laws enable retailers to seek restitution from shoplifters. Criminal prosecution is not a prerequisite to a civil demand request. Typically, a representative of or attorney for a victimized business demands a statutorily set compensation in a letter to the offender. If an offender does not respond favorably to the civil demand letter, the retailer may bring an action in Small Claims Court or another appropriate forum.

To forestall any allegations of coercion, many companies initiate civil recovery proceedings only after the shoplifter has been released from the store's custody. It is a criminal offense to threaten prosecution if a civil demand is not paid. Moreover, if a store accuses a customer of shoplifting and the individual is acquitted or if a store makes an erroneous detention, the store may face claims of False Imprisonment, Extortion, Defamation, or intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Further readings

Sennewald, Charles A., and John H. Christman. 1992. Shoplifting. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Country: United States of America
State: Florida

caught shoplifting at sears 12/05/05, first time, 20yearsold, have no criminal record.


Make sure you get counsel (or at least the public defender) to try to keep this off your record eventually--jail time is probably not likely if your record is very clear now. But having that arrest and/or a conviction on your record will make job-hunting etc. more difficult. Often this could be negotiated down to some kind of court supervision etc
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References in periodicals archive ?
She denied using her son to help her shoplift the Florida JCPenney branch, according to ( WFTS . 
Most people who shoplift generally accept society's norms of behaviour.
While we believe that adolescent shoplifting spreads through peer influence, we do not agree with some retail security writers (e.g., Security Management 1977; Verrill 1967) that this occurs primarily through dares to shoplift. When young shoplifters are questioned anonymously, very few list daring or other forms of peer pressure as important factors in their behavior (e.g., Kraut 1976; Klemke 1982; Cox, Cox, and Moschis 1990).
More women shoplifted than men simply because shopping had become women's work.
Carolin's survey pointed out that most shoplifters knew that shoplifting was wrong and would not advise their children to shoplift.
Meanwhile, Insp Adams' officers will be liaising with other policing teams across the force to share intelligence about known offenders who may potentially travel into Newcastle city centre to shoplift over Christmas.
Of the 114 sampled, 68 had never shoplifted, 30 had shoplifted more than a year ago, and 16 had shoplifted within the past year.
But the Venerable Richard Seed, Archdeacon of York, said: "The Church of England does not advise anyone to shoplift, or break the law in any way.
But don't have a moment of madness and shoplift because you will be caught." Operation Cracker is being run as part of the Northumbria Police forcewide Operation Soundwave campaign, aimed at silencing opportunist thieves and ensuring people have crime prevention advice to keep them safe during the festive season.
This can only be described as a licence to shoplift and commit criminal damage; theft is theft, no matter what the value, and is a criminal offence.
WHY DO PEOPLE SHOPLIFT? A Neanderthal who has not eaten in several days stands by the fire and watches as a better hunter cooks a chunk of meat.