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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 ?
The FMI study reports that 25% of shoplifted items are HBC products and 16% are meat.
When the camera detects a product on the bottom shelf, the image is matched against a database of about 500 of the most commonly shoplifted items and then the UPC, price and description come up on the cashier's screen.
Second, we may ask how many of those students who have shoplifted at least once have ever experienced a period of intensified shoplifting.
Phase prevalence (%), of respondents 40.5 44.4 36.9 who have shoplifted at (2,309) (1,082) (1,218) least once (N) p < .001 Community type Urban Semi-urban Rural Phase prevalence (%), of all 25.5 20.3 16.5 respondents (N) (2,295) (1,217) (655) p < .001 Phase prevalence (%), of respondents 43.0 38.8 33.0 who have shoplifted at (1,351) (634) (324) least once (N) p < .01 (*) `Have you ever had a phase during which you stole from stores or kiosks more often than usually?' Of all FSRD-96 respondents, 16 per cent had a single phase experience.
(n = 98) Yes 57.1 No 42.9 How many items, on average, are shoplifted per day?
Finally, while our dependent measure assessed the types of products the respondents shoplifted, it did not indicate the specific stores or situations in which individual acts of shoplifting occurred.
More women shoplifted than men simply because shopping had become women's work.
Abelson, who felt obliged to note on the dust cover that she has never shoplifted, seemingly confirms that such behavior is regarded as aberrant even in our more permissive times.
Although that does not account for merchandise taken with the package, it places a value on shoplifted merchandise.