Shoplifting may seem like a minor crime, but it affects everyone in Pennsylvania. When someone shoplifts, it costs money to retailers and eventually impacts consumers. That is why retailers are very strict when it comes to suspected shoplifting situations. However, there may be a time when a retailer accuses you of shoplifting when you do not feel you are guilty. To understand what this crime is, you need to know how the law defines it.

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention explains the law defines this crime as an instance where you take merchandise with the intent of not paying for it. While this may be the obvious definition, the law goes on to say that shoplifting has additional definitions. If you do anything to try to deprive the retailer of the full price of an item, this is also a criminal act. This may include changing sales signs or price tags. It could also mean changing containers.

Furthermore, shoplifting also includes removing or destroying security tags or doing anything else that would render a security tag ineffective. Even situations where you alter the item which lowers the cost is shoplifting. So, for example, eating a grape at the grocery store before you have them weighed and pay for them is technical shoplifting because you have deprived the grocer of the full price of the grapes.

Most often this is a misdemeanor crime, but it depends on the value of whatever you take. For more expensive items or repeat offenses, it may be a felony. This information is for education and is not legal advice.