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Shoplifting – Is it worth the price?

Today, Your Legal Corner will discuss “Shoplifting – Is it worth the price?”

The holiday season is quickly approaching, as we begin to plan our Thanksgiving feast. Yes, families will gather around the Thanksgiving table and give thanks once again for the blessings received throughout the year. For many, Thanksgiving will also be the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Don’t ruin your holiday season by attempting to shoplift. A moment of weakness is not worth the ultimate price. Shoplifting cannot only put a damper on your holidays but the penalties imposed may follow you around for the rest of your life.

Types of Shoplifting

Shoplifting can take many forms. Most people believe shoplifting is limited to removing merchandise from a store. However, just concealing merchandise may be considered shoplifting. Or, what if you simply switch or alter a price tag? This also may be considered evidence of your intent to steal and is considered shoplifting.

Many shoplifters try to be sly in how they shoplift. If you move merchandise from one container to another it will be considered shoplifting as well, especially when attempting to ring the merchandise.


The penalties for shoplifting vary depending on the full retail value of the merchandise. If the value is more than $75,000, it is a second-degree crime with a jail sentence of 5 to 10 years.

If the retail value exceeds $500 but is less than $75,000, it is a crime of the third degree with an exposure of 3 to 5 years in jail. It is a crime of the 4th degree if the value is greater than $200 but less than $500 with a jail sentence of up to 18 months.

Many times, shoplifting offenses are heard in municipal court especially where the retail value of the merchandise is less than $200. Under New Jersey law, a third offense carries a mandatory ninety-day jail sentence.

Prevalence of Shoplifting

Recently, the National Retail Federation reported that retail crime rates increase by up to 30% during the holiday season. According to the National

Association for Shoplifting Prevention, one in eleven shoppers have shoplifted.

For some individuals, shoplifting results from their efforts to fund an underlying drug addiction. Other reasons may include poverty, sport, or a medical condition. In many instances, shoplifters target certain merchandise they know will be easy to sell for quick cash.

A local prosecutor advised that he felt sorry for a young woman who shoplifted baby formula thinking she did not have money to buy it for her baby. He soon discovered that baby formula is one of the more popular items to shoplift as illegitimate retailers can readily sell it and provide quick cash for the shoplifter.

Research reveals that many individuals do not intend to shoplift when they enter a store. However, especially during the holidays, stress can play a role in triggering a person to shoplift.

This holiday season; please remember that shoplifting, for whatever reason, is just not worth the price.

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner, will discuss “What your living will should contain to be effective.”

Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.

Send questions, or comments to Victoria at [email protected]. Or call 856-845-8243.

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.

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