Consequences of Shoplifting may change from state to state or country to country. In several cases the consequences might even stun you. Furthermore, technology in daily life has made it possible to easily and effectively catch shoplifters.
Although shoplifting violations are rampant, this does not mean that they are not taken seriously. Shoplifting is covered by provisions in every state’s penal (criminal) code (typically under the umbrella of theft or robbery regulations).
The penalties can be severe—especially if the product is valuable or the offender has a criminal record. This page covers the basics of shoplifting, such as the types of actions that can be considered, how shoplifting is prosecuted, and when shoplifters can be sued under civil responsibility rules. You’ll find links to state-specific shoplifting and theft articles after this article.
It is unusual for a first or second-time offender with no prior criminal record to be sentenced to prison.
What is Shoplifting?
The theft of products from a store without paying for them is commonly referred to as shoplifting. However, leaving a store with unpaid products is not the only way to conduct stealing. In some situations, the desire to steal and an act committed in pursuit of that intent can lead to charges of stealing (or retail fraud).
The following is an example of a shoplifting-related action: adjusting the price of a product removing (or even attempting to remove) security tags or other theft-prevention devices while still in the store, hiding or concealing an item on your person (putting merchandise in your pocket or purse), or removing an object from its packaging and concealing it in or among other merchandise.
If labels or tags are changed, or stock is transferred from one container to another, you could be charged with shoplifting or “retail theft.” The possession of anti-shoplifting device countermeasures is likewise illegal.
Consequences of Shoplifting
Shoplifting is charged and punished as a theft or robbery offense in many states, usually as petty or misdemeanor theft, if the value of the merchandise stolen is less than a specific threshold (say, $200).
Other states distinguish between shoplifting and general theft to prosecute and sentence, and some treat shoplifting less harshly than additional theft charges (such as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor). In Massachusetts, for example, a first or second offense for shoplifting products worth less than $250 results in a fine-only penalty (no jail time). However, for stealing the same amount, the lowest-level larceny (theft) charge carries a sentence of up to a year in prison.
Suppose proof exists indicating the incident was part of a shoplifting “spree” or systematic series of thefts from retail businesses. In that case, a person accused of stealing will be charged with a more serious crime (and face a harsher punishment) in many states. In some areas, these schemes are called “retail theft rings” or “organized retail theft,” especially when involving the illegal resale of stolen goods. These types of offenses are usually felonies.
Long-Term Consequences of Shoplifting
A shoplifting conviction can have a variety of unpleasant and long-term effects. Shoplifting charges can result in fines, prison time, reputational damage, and a criminal record. The value of the stolen item(s) does not always correspond to the severity of the penalty. This is because your arrest, charge, and fingerprints remain public information even if you are acquitted of theft.
A criminal record can have severe consequences for your future, as it will show up on background checks for jobs, immigration, housing, financing, and customs officers when traveling. Charges of shoplifting and stealing can hurt your ability to keep and seek work.
Employers routinely conduct background checks on their employees, so you may lose your current job if you are convicted. If the charge is found, employers may lose faith in you as an employee because they may see you as a threat who could re-offend and steal from them. Shoplifting has the potential to harm one’s immigration and citizenship status.
Shoplifting allegations can potentially result in deportation in the most challenging situations.
Consequences of Shoplifting
Cage or Prison Term
One of the most severe repercussions of shoplifting is Prison Term. Except for minors, stealing of any type is punishable by imprisonment in every country. Stealing that involves any form of violence, property destruction, or the possession of weapons, such as burglary and armed robbery, carries much harsher prison penalties. In certain nations, a combination of a prison sentence and a fine is a possibility.
If you are labeled as a thief, society will stigmatize you. People will always see you through a particular lens and will be hesitant to build close bonds with you. You get few or no invites to events, no one wants to be seen with you, and people are hesitant to take gifts from you because accepting donations is frowned upon. You wouldn’t even get to meet the friends and family of your acquaintances since the vast majority, if not all, would abandon you.
Criminal or Charge Record
Your criminal record of stealing in the past would always be brought up in a “court of public opinion,” especially if the goal is to shame you. This comes with a prison sentence. Even if you have changed and do not steal any longer, your criminal record of stealing will always be available for examination by anyone and will always be an embarrassing topic. So, what’s the sense of experiencing such embarrassments that would recur if you can avoid them by not engaging in any theft?
Your reputation, as they say, is your worth. Everyone distrusts you after you have a history of theft made public, and you lose credibility. Even if you have altered your ways and no longer steal, people will suspect your sincerity. People become very uneasy when you’re among their valuables and mobile objects.
Employment Problems may arise
No company would want you on their team if you had a criminal record for stealing.
Employers like employees who have credibility, and stealing takes away that credibility. Suppose it is discovered that you stole at any point, and it can be confirmed. In that case, you are regarded unemployable even if you were not convicted by a competent court or allowed off with a fine what’s worse if you were dismissed for stealing from a former employer.
Charged Person cant run for a Public Office
Persons who have been convicted of a crime by a competent court are immediately prohibited from seeking and being elected to political office in most nations across the world. Even if you sincerely want to, that has already limited your alternatives and destroyed your dreams of running for a public office.
Also read Pandora papers and learn about public office thieves.
Family life Disturbance
For a variety of reasons, your buddy and family would be ostracized. They suffer the weight of being presumed guilty by association, which has far-reaching consequences that most people are unaware of. Your children would be the ones who would suffer the most. How can children cope with the shame of having a dad who is a known thief? How do they deal with the bullying, trolling, and taunting? These are things you should think about.
Financial Losses may hit you bad
If you have acquired wealth over time and you are caught stealing, it opens up opportunities for your source of wealth to be questioned and be barged with court summons and suits. Your credibility before a judge and jury would be reduced.
Never Ending Suspicion
Because you have a criminal history of stealing, you are among the first suspects whenever you are present in a case of theft. Even though you are innocent, you may be accused of being the culprit or an accomplice in the robbery or any other crimes.
Keep proving honesty for the rest of life.
You always feel like a dark cloud is hanging over your head, and you have to go above and beyond to establish your innocence. Even when conducting the most mundane tasks, you are extra cautious, and your reactions and words in such instances are given more attention.
Stealing isn’t a choice, and even if you have kleptomania – the want to steal items even when you don’t need them – you can overcome it with counselling and enough self-control. Also, keep the incorrect company away from you so that their actions do not taint you. Finally, don’t be too quick to judge someone who has a history of stealing.