To some, shoplifting may seem like a victimless crime. Large department stores or convenience shops may seem less personal than a house or apartment because the owner is rarely seen, and there is a more “corporate” feel to the retail chain. Retail theft, however, can be a serious felony crime under Illinois law, and can result in a felony conviction. The threshold value of the goods stolen in order to result in a felony conviction is not astronomically high, either. Retail theft may seem like a petty crime, but it does not go unnoticed, nor does it go unprosecuted. Therefore, it is important for Illinois residents to understand the basics of retail theft laws in Illinois.
As several recent cases suggest, retail theft is not an uncommon crime, nor does the value of the good stolen need to be excessively high in order to constitute a felony crime. According to evergreenpark.patch.com, on September 17, 50-year-old Tony Cook from the South King Drive area in Evergreen Park allegedly stole $208 worth of hygiene products from the local Walgreens. Mr. Cook has a prior robbery conviction on his record, and was charged with felony theft for the Walgreens incident. He is due in Bridgeview court later in early October.
Similarly, according to norridge.suntimes.com, two Chicago women were charged with felony theft in separate incidents on September 17 and 22. In the first incident, 54-year-old Bonita Randle attempted to leave Carson’s without paying for jewelry valued at $300. In the second incident, 44-year-old Rachel Ballog attempted to leave the same Carson’s without paying for clothing valued at $247. Both women were charged with felony theft. Both women also received a recognizance bond and are scheduled to appear in Rolling Meadows court later in October.
Illinois Theft Laws
Retail theft and theft are separate crimes under Illinois Criminal laws. Under 720 ILCS 5/16-25, a person is guilty of retail theft if he or she knowingly takes possession, carries away, transfers, or causes to be carried away by someone else, any merchandise that is in a retail store, without paying the full retail value, and with the intent to deprive the merchant of the merchandise. Alternatively, there are several other acts that constitute retail theft including: (1) altering or transferring a merchandise label to deprive the merchant of less than the full retail value of the item; (2) transferring items to other containers in order to deprive the merchant of the full retail value of the item; (3) under-ringing items; (4) removing a shopping cart from the merchant; and (5) falsely representing to the merchant ownership of an item in order to get store credit, a refund, or exchange. Other similar acts also constitute the crime of retail theft under the statute.
For most retail theft crimes, the value of the merchandise stolen is the major determining factor for charging and sentencing purposes. If the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $300, the retail theft is likely a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the offender has a previous theft crimes conviction on his or her record, the crime may be charged as a Class 4 felony. In general, if the value of the merchandise stolen is over $300, the crime is charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor. However, there are additional circumstances that may increase the severity of the charge.
If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.