Shoplifters Arrested After Stealing Spree
Two women have been arrested after allegedly stealing $15,000 in merchandise on a stealing spree that covered three stores. The shoplifters allegedly filled tote bags with merchandise, dumped the merchandise in a vehicle, and then attempted to re-enter the building with empty tote bags to steal more merchandise. The stolen items included toiletries, medicine, and beauty products.
With concerns of retail theft on the rise, the penalties for these crimes are starting to tilt toward the maximum. All across the country, retailers are reporting that shoplifting rings are targeting their stores. So, legislators and courts will be leaning harder on allegations of shoplifting than they were before retailers were intentionally targeted.
Understanding the law
Florida law calls shoplifting retail theft and it’s detailed 812.015:
- “Retail theft” means the taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents; altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.
The rules include both removing an item from a store without paying for it, but also conduct such as:
- Swapping pricetags
- Interfering with anti-theft devices
- Taking a shopping cart
Penalties for retail theft in Florida
Sentencing for retail theft runs the gamut from the least serious crime you can commit all the way up to a second-degree felony.
- Less than $100 constitutes a second-degree misdemeanor
- Between $100 and $300 constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor
- Between $300 and $20,000 constitutes a third-degree felony
- Between $20,000 and $100,000 constitutes a second-degree felony.
In this case, the defendants would be charged with a third-degree felony based on the amount of merchandise that was stolen.
Defenses to shoplifting in Florida
In some cases, a defendant may raise the point that they did not intend to steal the merchandise but simply walked out the door and forgot to pay. While the police and prosecutors aren’t likely to believe you, you can raise the point that it’s not within your character to steal intentionally.
Mistaken identity is also a factor in many of these cases because stores use surveillance to determine if someone is shoplifting or not. CCTV is not the best at creating a clear picture and in some cases, someone is blamed for something they didn’t do.
It’s important to understand that while most shoplifters fall into the misdemeanor range, the crime will remain on your record and your record would be accessible by potential employers or landlords. So, in most cases, you will want a criminal defense attorney to handle the charges.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Port St. Lucie Today
Eighmie Law Firm represents the interests of Port St. Lucie residents who have been charged with retail theft or shoplifting. Call our Port St. Lucie criminal lawyers today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing defense strategy immediately.