The Many Forms of Shoplifting

Naperville criminal defense lawyer, shoplifting, criminal defense strategy, stealing merchandise, misdemeanorShoplifting is a form of theft. Like other forms of theft, such as identity theft and fraud, many different actions constitute an act of shoplifting. In its most basic sense, shoplifting is the act of stealing merchandise from a retailer. Stealing money from a retailer is not an act of shoplifting, though stealing merchandise is a roundabout way of stealing money. Breaking into a store to steal from a cash register or forcing a cashier to hand over cash under threat of violence are burglary and robbery, respectively.

Below are four different ways an individual can commit the offense of shoplifting. In Illinois, shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the item allegedly stolen.

Concealing Items in Clothing or a Purse

Putting an item into one’s clothing or a purse in an effort to sneak it out of a store without paying is a form of shoplifting. Sometimes, shoplifters remove items from their packaging before putting them into clothes and bags and in other cases, they simply conceal the whole item, packaging and all. Shoplifting clothing can be fairly easy this way, especially if the shoplifter is wearing a coat or other outerwear.

Concealing Items in Other Items

An individual might also commit a shoplifting offense by concealing items within larger items, rather than his or her own clothing or purse. For example, an individual might put one or more smaller items into a bag or box for sale, then pay only for the container that holds the items within.

Damaging Items to Appear to be Previously Owned

Shoplifting can also be committed by pretending that an item already belongs to the individual. He or she might open an item while in a store or intentionally create signs of wear in the item to make it appear to be pre-owned. With jewelry, the individual might simply put the item on his or her body and wear it out of the store. With food, the individual might open the package and consume all the food within, then throw the packaging in the trash without paying for it.


When a cashier intentionally rings an item into a cash register for a lower price than the one set by the retailer, he or she is committing an act of shoplifting.

Underringing is not always intentionally committed by the cashier. Some shoplifters switch expensive items’ barcode stickers with cheaper items’ stickers so the items ring up at a lower price. In some cases, the shoplifter actually prints his or her own barcode stickers and attaches them to items to steal through this method.

Work with an Experienced Naperville Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with shoplifting or any other type of theft, start working with an experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyer to develop an effective defense strategy as soon as you can. Contact our team at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.