Walmart is one of the most popular places for shoplifting, and recently a man was accused of shoplifting at least 30 different times from Walmart stores in Illinois and Indiana.
The suspect has allegedly been shoplifting televisions and computers over the last 18 months at multiple Walmart stores. Three of the 30 instances supposedly happened at the Walmart Supercenter in Naperville, where the Naperville Crime Stoppers are now offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the man’s arrest and conviction.
Shoplifting 30 times without being caught is quite a feat, but if the man has any kind of record when it comes to theft, he could be facing some serious charges and penalties. Let’s look at how shoplifting charges work here in our state and how those charges can change if you already have a history of theft.
Understanding Illinois’ Retail Theft Laws
When you think of shoplifting, you probably think of hiding an item under your shirt and running for the door, but shoplifting – also known as retail theft – can be committed in various ways besides just taking an item without paying full retail value for it, including:
- Altering price tags and other item labels
- Transferring merchandise from one package to another
- Under-ringing an item at the checkout counter
- Removing a shopping cart from the store’s premises
- Making a false return
- Using a theft detection shielding device or theft detection device remover
If you’re caught committing retail theft, the charges you will face are dependent on the value of the stolen property.
If the value of the stolen property is less than $300, you will face a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by fines up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. This charge is elevated to a Class 4 felony – fines up to $25,000 and 1-3 years in prison – if you used an emergency exit to commit the crime.
If the value is over $300? Whether it’s in a single instance or multiple instances over a year, you’re looking at a Class 3 felony punishable by fines up to $25,000 and 2-5 years in prison. It becomes a Class 2 felony – $25,000 in fines and 3-7 years in prison – if you used an emergency exit.
So what happens if you’re caught shoplifting and you already have a shoplifting conviction on your record?
How Can Multiple Thefts Affect My Shoplifting Charges?
If you’re caught shoplifting for a second, third, fourth, or even the 30th time, you will face increased charges and penalties.
When the value of the stolen items is less than $300, you’re looking at a misdemeanor charge, but if you already have a theft or related crime conviction (robbery, armed robbery, burglary, residential burglary, possession of burglary tools, home invasion, unlawful use of a credit card, or forgery), you’re now looking at a Class 4 felony.
If you have a theft record and you use an emergency exit, you’re looking at a Class 3 felony.
Most people think of shoplifting as a minor crime, but, as you can see, shoplifting is taken seriously in our state and even more seriously if you have any kind of history of theft conviction. For that reason, if you find yourself facing a shoplifting charge, regardless of whether it’s your first one or third one, reach out to an experienced Illinois shoplifting attorney to fight for your rights and get your charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped altogether.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.