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Shoplifting is a form of larceny. It is the theft of goods or merchandise sold by a store or any place of business. It occurs when the offender takes merchandise without the permission of the owner with the intention of permanently depriving the owner payment of the goods. Shoplifting is also be called retail theft or concealment of merchandise.


Shoplifting can mean a criminal and civil liability. For criminal liability, shoplifting can mean a fine or jail time or both. Its seriousness is usually based on the value of the goods that were shoplifted. The higher the value of the goods, the more serious the charge will be. Shoplifting can range from infractions to misdemeanors to low-level or mid-level felonies.

In addition to criminal liability, a shoplifter is also civilly liable to the store owner arising from shoplifting. The store owner can demand payment for the merchandise that was taken and for any other damage he or she might have suffered. A civil case might be pursued regardless if criminal charges were filed. A civil penalty is also imposed, which may either be an additional value on top of the value of the merchandise stolen or twice the value of such merchandise, whichever is greater.


  1. About 1 in 11 people are shoplifters. That is over 27 million people throughout the US. Out of this number, approximately more than 10 million have been caught.
  2. Shoplifting does more harm to the offender than the shop owner. It also adds excess burden to the police and the courts. Store owners are burdened with extra costs to add security measures resulting in an increase in prices and thus burdens the consumers.
  3. The usual targets for shoplifters are specialty shops, department stores, drug stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, thrift shops, music stores, and discounters.
  4. There is no specific profile for a shoplifter. The usual price range of shoplifted merchandise is $2 to $200, depending on the type of store shoplifted.
  5. About 3% of shoplifters do it as a profession. They do it for the purpose of reselling for a profit.

Keep in mind that the law takes shoplifting seriously. If a shoplifter has victimized you, approach Abraham and Rideout to know how to claim your legal remedies.

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