According to many sources, instances of theft and shoplifting have increased throughout the country. In fact, the National Retail Security System states that theft losses totaled over $100 billion in 2021.
Retail stores are more vigilant now than ever before. Most stores have specific loss prevention employees who monitor security cameras or walk around the store looking for people who are allegedly stealing. With all this increased scrutiny, many people worry about being accused of shoplifting. The fear is warranted. The consequences for theft can be significant, especially if an individual is accused of organized retail theft.
Theft Vs. Organized Theft
Theft involving lower-value items is typically a misdemeanor offense in Illinois. However, if the value of an item exceeds the $500 threshold, the individual may be looking at felony charges in certain counties.
Being accused of shoplifting or retail theft can have major implications, including steep fines and even jail time. Furthermore, having a criminal record can influence a person’s ability to gain adequate employment, housing, and other opportunities.
Organized retail theft occurs when two or more people work together to steal items. For example, a group of people may enter the store and then suddenly start grabbing items off of shelves and running out of the store with them. These so-called “smash-and-grab” tactics often make headlines.
In January of this year, new legislation went into effect that increases penalties for individuals accused of organized retail theft. If you are accused of working with another person to shoplift merchandise valued at $300 or more, you can be charged with a Class 2 felony under the new law. If you are convicted of this offense, you face up to five years in prison. The penalties are even greater if there are multiple establishments involved. Organized retail theft involving more than one store is a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Fighting Against Theft Accusations
If you or a loved one were accused of theft or organized retail theft under the new law, make sure to talk to a lawyer right away. The penalties for a conviction are life-changing. Your lawyer can build a strong defense and advocate on your behalf during the case. An experienced criminal defense lawyer may also be able to secure a plea deal to reduce the penalties or jail time that you face.
Contact our DuPage County Theft Defense Lawyers
Our Wheaton criminal defense lawyers believe in the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. We will fight tirelessly to protect your freedom. Call [[phone]] for a free, confidential initial case assessment.