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DuPage County shoplifting attorneys, shoplift in IllinoisWhen people hear the term “shoplifting,” they typically think of someone taking an item for sale in a store without paying for it. This is the classic form of shoplifting. However, Illinois law defines many other acts as shoplifting.

Other acts that are considered shoplifting in Illinois include the following:

  1. Changing the sale price or removing tags;
  2. Under-ringing merchandise. This could come up in a self-checkout situation or be done by an employee;
  3. Removing the store’s shopping cart from the premises;
  4. Returning stolen merchandise for cash, exchange, or store credit;
  5. Using or possessing a theft detection shielding device; or
  6. Failing to return an item that has been rented.

The Prevalence of Shoplifting

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, approximately 27 million people have been caught shoplifting. About 10 million people have been caught in the last five years.

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Wheaton criminal defense attorneyWhen someone is thought to be shoplifting, there are a variety of officials that may become involved. In a mall or retail store setting, the first-responders typically include store employees, store management, and any security officers retained by the establishment. After they have the suspicious person detained, the local police officers then become involved. Just as with police making an arrest, personnel must complete a series of actions before creating a case.

Before Detaining a Suspect

It is important to understand your rights if you are being detained by store personnel or a security officer for shoplifting. Often, these employees overstep their authority, typically either out of their ignorance of what they can do legally or because they are relying on your naiveté of the situation. If they detain a suspect without probable cause, they are opening themselves up for false arrest claims. Therefore, before apprehending anyone, they must:

  • See the item belonging to the store, not brought in from outside the location;
  • Watch that concealment occurs;
  • Never lose visual of the individual;
  • Witness failure to pay for the merchandise; and
  • Observe the citizen leaving the store.

Taking Custody of Suspect

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Wheaton criminal defense attorney, justice for juvenilesThere are several different charges related to juvenile theft. Often glamorized by the music industry and mainstream media, many impressionable young adults are led to believe that it is nearly a rite of passage to steal and get away with it. Some consider stealing as a rush; others do it because “everyone else is doing it." Additionally, there may be cases in which a juvenile steals food because he or she could not afford to eat. However, the most common forms of juvenile theft, all prosecutable by law, include the following:

  • Shoplifting: Removing the merchandise from a display or shelf and then exiting the premises with the item without any intention of paying. Merchandise is product that an establishment would sell to the public.

  • Price Tag Switching: Various items cost differing amounts. In this scenario, a culprit may remove a tag off of a higher priced item and replace it with the tag of a lower priced item, a sale item, or a clearance item in order to pay a lower amount. While yes, the individual is still paying for the item, the establishment is still losing revenue on both items. The product that was intended to be a lower cost is now marked overpriced and is not likely to attract a buyer. Moreover, the item that was purchased at the incorrect lower cost only generated a fraction of the amount it was intended to gain.

  • Larceny: This is a very intimidating word to many because it is often heard in high profile cases. Simply put, larceny is theft of personal property. In a larceny case, the person charged is being accused of taking something from an individual without permission or without the intent to return the property.

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Wheaton criminal defense lawyer, retail theft, shopliftingMost people would consider shoplifting to be a minor crime, but even small time theft like shoplifting can have serious consequences. Shoplifting and other types of retail theft involves more than just taking something without paying for it.

Different Types of Retail Theft

Illinois does not have a statute titled shoplifting. Instead, shoplifting is classified under the retail theft provisions of the law. The statute makes it illegal to take or obtain merchandise from a retail establishment with the full retail value of the merchandise.

This means that retail theft is more than just taking something and leaving the store without paying for it. Actions such as price switching, exchanging merchandise that was stolen, or trying to confuse a cashier and get the wrong change back are additional forms of retail theft.

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Wheaton criminal defense lawyer, Illinois property crimesUnder Illinois law there are several different types of property crimes. Sometimes the names of the crimes can be confusing; they all seem to have the same meaning. Three common examples are theft, burglary and robbery. While in conversations these three terms might all be used to describe the same thing, under the law they are very different crimes.

What is Theft Under the Law? 

Theft in Illinois is defined as taking or depriving another of the use of property without a legal right to the property. Theft covers many different types of actions—shoplifting, taking money from someone’s wallet, or stealing a car or bicycle are all theft crimes. The more valuable the property is that was stolen, the harsher the consequences. 

Theft crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the value of what was stolen.

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