Shoplifting costs US businesses $10 billion a year, so it’s no surprise that state and local law enforcement officials regard retail theft as a serious offense. There are a variety of different ways a person can commit retail theft, and some people may have committed retail theft without even knowing it. Below, we examine the many ways a person can commit retail theft.

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Retail Theft in Illinois

Illinois law reads that a person commits retail theft when he or she knowingly:

  1. Takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away any store merchandise with the intent of depriving the merchant of full retail value.
  2. Alters, transfers or removes any price label which would aid in purchasing the product at less than retail value.
  3. Transfers merchandise from one container to another with the intention of depriving the merchant of full retail value. For example, putting an expensive pair of shoes in a discount shoe box constitutes retail theft.
  4. Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant full retail value (i.e. intentionally forgetting to ring up an item you put on the bottom of your shopping cart).
  5. Removes a shopping cart from the premises without merchant consent with the intent of depriving the merchant of full retail value of the items in the cart.
  6. Attempts to deceive a merchant by claiming that they are the lawful owner of a product in order to exchange it for money or store credit.
  7. Uses or possesses any theft detection shielding device or removes an anti-theft device with the intent of depriving the merchant of full retail value of the item. A shielding device is defined as any laminated or coated bag or device designed and intended to shield merchandise from detection by an electronic or magnetic theft alarm sensor.

Retail Theft Penalties

The penalties for retail theft vary depending on prior convictions and the value of the merchandise a person attempted to steal. Here are the penalties associated with retail theft.

  • Any violation of points 1-6 in which the full retail value does not exceed $300 constitutes a Class A misdemeanor. A violation of point 7 is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a subsequent offense. However, if a person uses an emergency exit to aid them in retail theft, the charge is upgraded to a Class 4 felony, regardless of previous offenses.
  • Any violation of points 1-6 in which the full retail value does not exceed $300 by a person who has previously been convicted of theft, home invasion, armed robbery, burglary, possession of burglary tools, residential burglary, robbery, unlawful use of a credit card, or forgery constitutes a Class 4 felony. If the same person uses an emergency exit to aid them in the theft, the charge is upgraded to a Class 3 felony.
  • Any violation of points 1-6 where the merchandise exceeds $300 is a Class 3 felony. Again, you’ll be in more trouble if you use an emergency exit during the theft, as you’ll face an upgraded charge of a Class 2 felony.

During a retail theft trial, it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove whether or not the merchandise involved exceeded $300.

Additional Retail Theft Penalties

If the court finds a person guilty of retail theft, there are certain “civil liabilities” that coincide with a retail theft conviction. Those civil liabilities penalties include:

  • Fees equal to the full retail value of the merchandise
  • An additional amount not less than $100 nor more than $1,000
  • Attorney fees and court costs

It is also important to note that if a minor commits a retail theft offense, the parents or guardians of the minor shall be civilly liable. A minor is any person under the age of 19, who is unemanicapted, and lives with his or her parents or legal guardian.

Naperville Theft Attorney

Contact an Illinois retail theft lawyer today if you’ve been charged with a theft crime. Appelman & Associates offers free initial case reviews: (630) 717-7801.