Shoplifting Is Treated Very Seriously In The Sunshine State

  • Aug 5 2020

Retailers across the country are bracing for an uptick in shoplifting

There is an increased opportunity to shoplift.

Stores are employing fewer workers and encouraging them to social distance. Masks are giving some people a sense of anonymity in this era of increased surveillance. 

And increased incentives to shoplift.

Young folks are thirsty for online notoriety, and videoing themselves flouting the law can give it to them. The COVID-driven economic crisis is forcing some families to make difficult choices, especially during back to school season. Looting has become an outlet for social unrest. Meanwhile, online marketplaces are making it easier than ever to flip stolen goods for profit. 

Retailer’s Response

While the retail trade publication Loss Prevention Magazine is urging retailers to adjust their internal policies on what to do if a suspected shoplifter is identified, calling the cops is still the first response of many store owners. In Florida, this means serious business. Florida law defines shoplifting broadly and can treat shoplifters very harshly.

Shoplifting In The Sunshine State 

Under Florida Statute § 812.015(1)(d), shoplifting, which is formally known as “retail theft” is defined as “…the taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents; altering or removing a label, universal product code [UPC], 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.”

Depending on the value of the items in question, shoplifters can be charged with either petit theft or grand theft:

  • Petit (petty) Theft — Occurs when the value of the merchandise in question is less than $750. It can be charged as a first or second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days to one year in jail, fines up to $1,000, or both.
  • Grand Theft — Occurs when the value of the merchandise in question is greater than $750. It is charged as a felony, with punishments of up to 30 years in prison based on the value of the property taken & Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code guidelines.

Let’s look at this a bit more closely. 

The definition of retail theft includes “altering or removing a label, universal product code [UPC], or price tag.” This means peeling the sticker off of a lower-priced pack of meat in order to save yourself a few dollars could result in a $1,000 fine. 

Slipping makeup, over-the-counter medication, or razors in your pocket could land you in jail for a year. As could taking a shopping cart home with you. 

Walking out the door with a few pairs of Apple AirPods or a single iPhone could make you a felon. 

If you are charged with retail theft, you should not take it lightly. While you might have represented yourself in traffic court or in small claims court in the past, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you if you have been charged with retail theft. You don’t want to be the person the prosecutor decides to make an example out of because they are tired of dealing with shoplifting cases. 

Posted in: Theft Crimes