To the average person, shoplifting is an impulse crime, likely one committed by a teenager. People think of grab-and-dash shoplifting, where someone grabs something off of a shelf or a rack and then proceeds to sprint out of the store. Other times, they might picture someone hiding objects in their purse or down their pants to get out of the store without paying for them.
Both of those situations do qualify as shoplifting, but they are far from the only scenarios that lead to shoplifting charges in Missouri. A few other behaviors could lead to accusations against people in retail stores.
Self checkout lanes have become a staple in many grocery stores, as well as many other retail environments. Unfortunately, while they may ease check out congestion and reduce demands on the staff, self checkout lane have a drastically increased risk of skip scanning.
The patrons go through the self checkout line and intentionally skip over certain items when ringing themselves up. They assume that staff can’t see them and don’t notice. However, these checkout lanes have be coming increasingly sophisticated and often have cameras and scales integrated that can spot this kind of retail fraud as it occurs. Some camera systems can even tell if someone improperly rings up an item of produce as a lower cost item.
Changing or replacing pricing stickers or barcodes
An attempt to trick store workers or checkout equipment can constitute shoplifting. Any effort to deprive a merchant of the full retail value of their merchandise could lead to shoplifting charges. Altering price tags or barcodes so that you can go through the cash register but not pay the full price is a form of shoplifting. You could end up accused if you pick up something mislabeled or tampered with by another customer.
Removing or deactivating security devices
Anyone who attempts to remove or deactivate security devices installed to prevent theft could find themselves accused of shoplifting. The same is true of anyone who enters a retail establishment with tools specifically designed to remove security devices.
Putting items into one another or in certain places on your cart
You could end up accused of shoplifting if you engage in any kind of merchandise concealment, even if you just want to hide a birthday present from your child. Mistakes can also look like a crime. You could put a very heavy item on the bottom rack of your cart and then forget to alert the cashier to its presence during the checkout process. Other examples of this form of shoplifting might include buying kitchen canisters and putting a pack of batteries inside them or sticking jewelry in the toes of shoes.
Hiding merchandise so that it leaves the store with you without you paying for it is still shoplifting even if you don’t hide the items on your person. Sometimes, managers, security officers and loss prevention specialists will detain someone for allegations of shoplifting before they have even left the store or technically stolen anything.
Learning more about what may look like shoplifting to others can help you make sense of your recent shoplifting charges.