Can I Be Charged With Shoplifting After I Have Left The Store?
Did you know that shoplifting is one of the most common theft offenses in Texas? People often think that successfully exiting the store means they have gotten away with shoplifting. However, this is not always the case.
How Do Stores Track Down Shoplifters?
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, 1 out of every 11 Americans will shoplift. How do stores combat this?
Many retailers, especially large department and grocery stores, use video surveillance. Cameras in and outside of the store can detect suspicious activity and capture evidence of the individual stealing. Cameras in the parking lot can see the car the suspect got into, allowing them to take down their license plate number and identify them.
Some stores even have facial recognition software so they can easily identify people from the surveillance videos.
Many locally-owned stores use social media to track down shoplifters. They post images from their security footage and ask the community for help identifying the suspect.
These methods can be used to find shoplifters long after they have left store property. If the store decides to file a report against you, you may be contacted by police or summoned to court.
How Long After Shoplifting Can You Be Charged?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time after a criminal offense occurs that it is still possible to make an arrest. The statute of limitations for shoplifting varies based on the value of the merchandise stolen. For misdemeanor cases of theft, the statute is two years after the commission of the crime. For felony theft, the statute is five years.
- Up to $2,500 worth of stolen goods is a misdemeanor offense.
- $2,500-$30,000 worth of stolen goods is a state jail felony.
- $30,000 and up is a felony offense.
If the amount of merchandise you stole was minimal, the store likely wouldn’t spend time and resources tracking you down. However, you should know that it is still possible to be charged after leaving the store.
The Texas Theft Liability Act
Under this law, the victim of theft can seek damages from the accused thief. This means that not only could you face criminal charges, but you can be held financially responsible.
If you think you may be charged with shoplifting or are currently facing charges, you will want to contact a criminal defense attorney. Having a theft offense on your record can lead people to think you are untrustworthy. This could affect your career, housing options, and more.