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Defining shoplifting in New Jersey

On Behalf of | May 9, 2018 | Shoplifting |

When most in Cranford hear that one has been arrested for shoplifting, they might immediately envision some teen being caught trying to sneak stuff out of a store in his or her backpack. This assumption is due to the fact that many view shoplifting as only being a juvenile crime. However, statistics show the exact opposite. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, 75 percent of those charged with shoplifting are adults. 

Why would so many be off in their notions of who are the most common shoplifters? Perhaps it is because most classify shoplifting as simply taking something from a retail store without paying. Yet there are actually several different forms of shoplifting. Per Section 20-11(b) of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, taking an item without paying its full retail value does indeed qualify as shoplifting. So too, however, does the following activity: 

  • Removing pricing tags from items in an attempt to pay less than their full retail value
  • Transferring merchandise from one container to another (e.g., a clearance rack) with the intent of paying less than its full value
  • Stealing shopping carts from merchants
  • Altering sales tags to “under-ring” upon checkout

“Under-ring” is causing a sales recording device to register less than an item’s full retail value. 

Anyone caught concealing store merchandise (either inside or outside of a store) is presumed to be engaged in shoplifting. Law enforcement officers can arrest people without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe they are shoplifting. Merchants and other special officers (e.g. security guards) can also take people into custody and detain them (for a reasonable period of time) if they also have cause to believe that those people were shoplifting, and that by taking said people into custody, they can recover their merchandise. 



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