Is that really shoplifting? 3 problem behaviors to avoid

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Shoplifting, or “retail fraud,” is considered a major problem by both retailers and the authorities. However, retail fraud is something that comes in a number of shapes and sizes – and some of them may surprise you. 

Forget about the image of the crafty teenage shoplifter who goes for a “five-fingered discount” every time they want a candy bar or a pack of gum. Here are some common behaviors that also count as retail fraud: 

Switching price tags on two objects 

It’s frustrating to know that something you want is going to go on sale in the near future – maybe the next day. However, switching the tags on something you want with something that’s cheaper is a sure-fire way to get into serious trouble (even if you were just trying to get a jump on a sale). 

Returning a used item to the store 

Instead of buying an expensive outfit for a single special event, some folks will carefully tuck the tags on their new clothes out of sight, wear them and then return them to the store. This is theft, no matter which influencer tries to explain it away as a “hack” you can use to save money. 

Walking out with items on the bottom of the buggy 

This can happen very easily – and it usually is a product of being stressed or rushed, but the store may not see it that way. You could find yourself charged with shoplifting, for example, just because you forgot there was a bag of dog food on the bottom shelf of your cart. 

In Michigan, shoplifting can be a misdemeanor offense that nets you a minimum of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine or a felony that can lead to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you’ve been charged with retail fraud, make sure that you fully understand your right to a defense.