Budgets get pretty tight during the holiday season. For many people, the extra pressure of getting their loved ones a great gift leads them to criminal activity that winds up costing retailers $6 billion during the holidays.
In turn, retailers are paying extra close attention to shoppers during the holiday season. If you think someone is watching you while you shop for your friends and family, you’re probably right.
What sections of the store are retailers most likely to be hanging around, waiting for shoplifters? What are people stealing?
We finally have some answers, thanks to a report from Checkpoint Systems.
Top Items Shoplifted By Americans During the Holidays
- Electronics and electronics accessories
- Leather clothes
- Winter clothes
- Any type of accessories
- Meat, seafood, and chocolate
- Toys for children
It makes sense that people are more inclined to steal toys for children and electronics. These items are often gifted to friends and family, but that won’t make your theft legal or justified.
Telling a shopkeeper that you’re just taking a leather jacket to give to your dad isn’t going to get you out of the penalties for shoplifting.
Texas Shoplifting Laws and Penalties
In our state, shoplifting falls under the general category of “theft.” Texas law defines theft as unlawfully taking property with the intent of depriving the owner of that property.
The law also says you don’t have to walk out the door of a shop to be charged with shoplifting. You don’t even need to have items in your pockets to be charged with theft, either.
Having the equipment handy to shoplift (aka instruments that would deactivate anti-theft devices) is also a crime in the state of Texas.
Texas Shoplifting Penalties
In order to determine shoplifting charges and penalties, a Texas judge will look at the value of the items stolen (or the items the defendant attempted to steal.)
- Shoplifting less than $100 worth of property is a Class C misdemeanor. Penalties include fines of up to $500.
- Shoplifting between $100-750 worth of property is a Class B misdemeanor. Penalties include up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.
- Shoplifting between $750-$2,000 is a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties include up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
- Texas’s felony theft threshold is $2,000. Shoplifting between $2,000-$30,000 in property is a state jail felony. Penalties include between 180 days and two years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Shoplifting between $30,000-$150,000 worth of property is a third-degree felony. Penalties include between 2-10 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Shoplifting between $150,000-$300,000 worth of property is a second-degree felony. Penalties include between 2-20 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
- If you attempt to or successfully shoplift over $300,000 worth of property, you may be convicted of a first-degree felony. Penalties include up to 99 years behind bars and $10,000 worth of fines.
When Your Penalties May Be Enhanced
Get caught with shoplifting assistance devices, and your penalties could be enhanced. You could face an additional Class A misdemeanor. Prosecutors may tack this charge onto general shoplifting charges in an attempt to lengthen your sentence.
Moreover, you may also have to pay restitution to the retailers if you cannot give the stolen items back.
What Prior Shoplifting Convictions Mean
If you have prior shoplifting convictions on your permanent record, you may face more severe charges and penalties.
For example, if you have at least two shoplifting convictions on your record, you will be charged with a state jail felony for stealing between $100-$2,500 worth of property.
It doesn’t matter whether you tried to steal a television or a pair of nice jeans- your prior convictions will play a big role in the penalties you face for stealing.
If you tried to steal less than $100, but have prior convictions on your record, you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
Texas Shoplifting Defense Strategies
You can’t use your holiday shopping list as a defense for stealing items from a retailer, but you do have a chance at fighting back against shoplifting charges and walking away from court without penalties. If you are accused, you have rights. If you are charged, you are innocent until proven guilty.
Talk to a Texas criminal defense lawyer for more information about how to fight back against shoplifting charges this holiday season.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.