A report last week recounts an alleged shoplifting incident in Chandler. According to police, an 18-year old man was arrested after he llegedly shoplifted a pair of headphones from a Best Buy store. They add that the act was caught on a video surveillance camera, and that the suspect was followed out of the store by an employee, who assisted in his capture. The article ends with the notation that this is the fourth time the suspect has been arrested for shoplifting or theft in the past four months. None of the prior arrests have resulted in a conviction, but the article is silent on the issue of whether all or any of the older charges are still pending.
What is Shoplifting?
While the term is used generally to describe retail theft, shoplifting is defined in A.R.S. 13-1805. The statute states that is consists of knowingly obtaining the goods of another, with intent to deprive that other person of the goods, by any one of a number of methods, including:
- Taking the goods without paying for them;
- Charging the price to a fictitious person to a person without that person’s authorization;
- Paying less than the actual purchase price by altering a label or price marking; or
- Concealing the items or transferring them from one container to another.
The offense, when it involves an item with a relatively low value, is generally a class 1 misdemeanor. However, there are numerous factors with can convert a simple shoplifting case into a felony. Among them are:
- Shoplifting property worth $1,000 or more;
- Using a device to facilitate the theft;
- Third shoplifting conviction within five years. This also applies to prior convictions for burglary, theft or robbery;
- Shoplifting with intent to resell (organized retail theft).
When all is said and done, many shoplifting cases can be prosecuted as felonies. For the man accused of committing the crime at the Chandler Best Buy, and for many others, this is not a minor offense with few real consequences. A shoplifting conviction, even where the value of the merchandize is very small, can nevertheless carry with it the possibility of years in prison.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004