Shoplifting is a form of theft that occurs only in a retail business. In many states, shoplifting, also known as retail fraud, it has its own special section of the criminal code that differentiates it from other theft offenses. However, Washington law does not differentiate between theft in a retail environment and other forms of theft.
Someone can wind up charged with shoplifting for taking items from a store without paying for them or for attempting to do so. There are a variety of actions that can fall under the umbrella of intentionally depriving the business of the full value of its merchandise that could lead to criminal charges.
Shoplifting and attempted shoplifting can take many different forms
The most common kind of shoplifting involves an individual concealing items on their person or in their clothing. Slipping a DVD into your coat or an eyelash curler in your pocket could constitute shoplifting, as could putting on a necklace, forgetting to take it off and leaving the store.
However, people may also attempt to hide items in strollers or underneath carts and exit the store without paying for them. Some people will go even further, altering, swapping or replacing the UPC code on a product to ring it up as something less expensive.
Shoplifting increases prices on items and costs to retailers, which is why many stores are aggressive in their prosecution of suspected shoplifters. Many retail facilities have specialized professionals, known as loss prevention staff, who monitor high-risk areas for signs of shoplifting. Many times, people accused of shoplifting don’t ever even leave the store.