In Pennsylvania, under 18 P.S. 3929, a person is deemed guilty of retail theft if he or she commits one or more of the following acts:
- Takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof;
- This simply covers all aspects of attempting to, or successfully removing or taking an item or service from any business and failing to pay the labeled, retail price for said object or service. (ex. Placing an item from a store in your purse in attempt to conceal it.)
- Alters, transfers or removes any label, price tag marking, indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a store or other retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise;
- This portion deals more with tampering of price tags or attempting to tamper with the price tags of any retail good with the intention of depriving the owner of the full price.
- Transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the full retail value thereof; or
- Referring to un-packaging an item and/or repackaging an item with the intent to deprive the owner of some or all of the original retail price
- Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise.
- This refers to the attempt to deceive retail workers while ringing items up in an attempt to receive a lower price than originally intended.
- Destroys, removes, renders inoperative or deactivates any inventory control tag, security strip or any other mechanism designed or employed to prevent an offense under this section with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof
- This is referring to the different versions/levels of security retail stores install to ensure each item is accounted for, and not able to leave the building without full payment. If you attempt to remove or allude security precautions, you will be within reasonable suspicion to be stopped for retail theft.
Grading and Penalties are as follows:
- Summary Offense: Retail theft is considered a summary offense if the item(s) stolen or tampered with amount to under $150 and if it the person’s first offense. The penalty for this would be a $300 fine and a possible 90 days in jail.
- Misdemeanor 2nd Degree: A retail theft is considered to be a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree when it is the second time a person has been caught and convicted of retail theft of products valuing under $150. The penalty for this grade is a possible $5,000 fine and up to 2 years imprisonment.
- Misdemeanor 1st Degree: A retail theft grading is more severe when the amount of the product(s) totals more than $150. This could be a first or second offense, if the retail value is over $150, it is still considered a 1st Degree Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for this is a $10,000 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment.
- Felony: Retail theft is considered a felony of the 3rd degree when the offense is a third time offense or subsequent to a third offense, regardless of the value of the item(s). It will also be considered a felony is the overall value is above $1,000, a firearm, or a motor vehicle. This penalty carries a maximum of 7 years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
Other penalties of retail theft cases can include issue with a Civil Court. Under 42 P.S. 8308, a civil action may be taken against someone convicted of retail theft ordering the offender to pay damages to the merchant, return property to the merchant, and cover the legal fees and attorney’s fees of the merchant.