Orlando, Fla.—Shoplifting is not a new issue for retail store owners, but it’s been one very difficult to contain. According to Price Gun more than 13 billion dollars of items are stolen from retailers each year. In fact, shoplifting ins America’s #1 Property Crime.
On average, there are 550,000 shoplifting incidents every day. In terms of loss those 13 billion dollars are equivalent to $35 million per day. Their study, from 2014, revealed that approximately a 10 percent of our nation’s population, or 27 million are active shoplifters.
If that wasn’t enough, we are now seeing new modalities that have negative, and possibly bigger repercussions for retailers such as the Ice Cream Licking Challenge recently exposed in the news, and becoming viral in social media. It started with a video of a teenage girl licking a carton of ice cream in a store — and then putting it back on the shelf.
As in every new modality, the legal approach is unclear. Fortunately, no cases have been reported in Florida so far, but to give you an idea, if the case is prosecuted as shoplifting the Florida law can be frightening enough. Shoplifting is referred to as "retail theft" in Florida, and defined to include the taking away any merchandise, property, or money from a store. Fraudulently altering a price tag is also considered to be retail theft, as is removing shopping carts from a business premises. There is no specificity on altering the product in pranking mode, but it results in the loss of the product and it is extended to the loss of credibility, a tremendous damage to the establishment and/or the specific brand.
Shoplifting in Florida can be charged either as petit theft or grand theft, depending on the value of the stolen merchandise.
To give you an idea, penalties for retail theft in Florida depend on the value of the stolen merchandise and the defendant's prior criminal history.
- If the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $100:
- You will be charged with petit theft in the second degree, which is a second degree misdemeanor punishable of up to 60 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.
- If you have previously been convicted of a theft offense, the second degree misdemeanor charge will be upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor charge.
- If you have previously been charged with two or more theft offenses, the charge will be upgraded to a third degree felony charge.
- If the value of the stolen merchandise is between $101 and $300:
- You will be charged with petit theft in the first degree, which is punishable by up to one year in county jail, one year of probation, and/or a $1,000 fine.
- Florida law requires the suspension of your driver's license for up to six months for a first offense, and up to one year for second or subsequent offenses.
- If the value of the stolen merchandise is between $301 and $5,000, you will be charged with grand theft in the third degree, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
As A Good Practice Use Surveillance Technology
Having surveillance technology will help you to prevent shoplifting from occurring and decrease your loss significantly. Place video surveillance equipment throughout your store so that most if not all of your store is covered by the cameras. You don’t necessarily need to hide them, because knowing they are being watched can help deter shoplifters.
In conclusion, shoplifting can cause devastating financial losses to a business. It is not covered by most insurance policies, however, burglary, robbery, and malicious mischief are covered by insurance because of the use of force and potential damage to the property. Shoplifting, on the other hand, uses no force and rarely results in physical damage to store property. It can often be prevented by employing protective measures like shoplifting awareness signals, increased security, and alarm systems.