Each year, there is more than $45 billion lost from inventory shrinkage in the retail industry in the United States. Inventory shrinkage is caused by things such as fraud, internal theft, shoplifting, and even organized retail crime. Though it may seem like a victimless crime, retail theft harms the economy. This is why retailers and law enforcement officials have placed increased focus on catching shoplifters and prosecuting them in recent years. In Illinois, retail theft encompasses a wide variety of behaviors, not simply just taking an item without paying for it. In some instances, retail theft charges can become felony charges, which mean you face harsher consequences than if the charges were just misdemeanor charges.
Misdemeanor Retail Theft Charges
In general, a first-offense retail theft charge will be considered a Class A misdemeanor. This means you will face up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines and/or possible probation time as a punishment. Retail theft is typically a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders as long as the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $300 or $150 for motor fuel.
Felony Retail Theft Charges
It does not take much for retail theft charges to escalate to felony charges. The offender's prior history with theft, robbery, burglary, forgery or other related crimes can dictate whether or not a charge is elevated to a felony charge. If the person has been convicted of retail theft of merchandise less than $300 and was previously convicted of theft, robbery, burglary or related crimes, the retail theft charge will become a Class 4 felony. This means the person can face one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines....