Advice for Business Owners on Shoplifting Policies

Jeremy Koven
 | 
If you are a store owner, it is important that you create a set of policies and procedures that act as the guidelines for shoplifters.

With proper policies in place, you can ensure the safety of your staff and all customers, including the shoplifter.


The National Association of Shoplifting Prevention found 1 in every 11 people living in the United States shoplifts. 

As a result of the prevalence of shoplifting, retailers and other stores should prepare themselves beforehand to deal with the inevitable.  

A lawyer, among other things, can help new businesses establish such procedures to ensure you are complying with the law, and that you are not inadvertently discriminating against a specific group of people. 

Below is a list of potential questions that stores should ask themselves:
  • Will you prosecute shoplifters under the age of 18 above the age of 65?
  • Is there a minimum dollar amount that is the threshold for prosecution?
  • What tactics will you use to confront the shoplifter?
  • Who should call the police?
  • Is your goal to get the items back or to prosecute?
  • What if the shoplifters end up actually paying or the item and feel bad for their original shoplifting?
Stores have very different policies for how they deal with shoplifters. 

Victoria Secret’s policy is this: 
  • Shoplifters do not get accused, approached, or pointed out.
  • If you are an employee and you do any of the above things, you risk losing your job.
Walmart and Macy's have similar policies. They don't want employees to be harmed by agressive shoplifters. 

On the other hand, many store owners want their to be some reprocussions for shoplifting. 

In California, penalties for shoplifting include:
  • Misdemeanor probation
  • A maximum of 6 months in county jail
  • A fine up to $1,000
If you have been convicted in the past, you can be charged with felony shoplifting, which is punishable by up to 3 years in county jail or fines up to $10,000. 

New York has similar penalties for shoplifting:
Charge Classification Penalty
Shoplifting property with a value of $1,000 or less Petit larceny; class A misdemeanor Imprisonment up to a year; fine up to $1,000
Shoplifting property with a value of more than $1,000 and equal to or less than $3000 Grand larceny in the fourth degree; class E felony Imprisonment up to four years; fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting
Shoplifting property with a value of more than $3,000 and equal to or less than $5000 Grand larceny in the third degree; class D felony Imprisonment up to seven years; fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting
Shoplifting property with a value of more than $50,000 and equal to or less than $1 million Grand larceny in the second degree; class C felony Imprisonment up to 15 years; fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting
Shoplifting property with a value of more than $1 million Grand larceny in the first degree; class B felony Imprisonment up to 25 years; fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting
 
Whether you are a store owner thinking about what policies to create for shoplifters, or if you have been charged with shoplifting, we can help. 
 
This article is intended to convey generally used information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are soley those of the author, and not LawChamps
 
 
 

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