How serious is shoplifting?

Given how common shoplifting is, some customers might think it is not a big deal if they slip a few items into their bags without paying for them. But because shoplifting costs businesses millions of dollars annually, authorities take the crime seriously. Shoplifting can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the circumstances and the value of the stolen goods.

Shoplifting in North Carolina

Shoplifting, or stealing from a store while posing as a customer, falls under larceny of goods. A person commits larceny when they take someone else’s property without that person’s consent and permanently deprives the owner of their property.

The charges for shoplifting largely depend on the value of the stolen goods and where the retailer or authorities apprehend the suspect. In North Carolina, there are two main categories of shoplifting charges:

Concealment of property

Hiding merchandise or goods without intending to pay and removing or covering up price tags while inside the store falls under this category.

The state considers concealment of property a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen items is less than $1,000. However, if the stolen goods are worth more than $1,000, the shoplifter may face felony charges.

If this is not the first shoplifting offense the suspect has, or if they used a tool to turn off an anti-theft device, they could face jail time.

Larceny of goods

Taking merchandise from a store, avoiding all attempts to pay and leaving without paying, falls under larceny of goods. Depending on the item’s value and specific circumstances, larceny may either be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Larceny becomes a felony under the following conditions:

  • Stealing property worth over $1,000
  • Stealing a firearm
  • Committing burglary or breaking and entering
  • Tampering with an anti-theft device

Larceny is a more severe charge compared to concealment of property. The main distinction is that concealment of property exclusively applies to stealing from a retailer, while larceny can involve taking property from a business or an individual.

Having new things is nice, but it should not come at someone else’s expense. Anyone suspected of shoplifting may exercise their right to remain silent and request an attorney. Otherwise, authorities may use anything they say against them.

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