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If you put something in your pocket, is that shoplifting?


You’re at the store making some purchases when you realize that you should have gotten a cart. You have more items than you can hold comfortably. However, you’re also in a hurry, so you just put one item in your pocket and gather up the rest. 

However, a store employee sees you do this and accuses you of shoplifting. They decide to call the police. You maintain that you didn’t actually steal anything – after all, you’re still physically in the store – but they claim that you still broke the law. Is it shoplifting to put an item into your pocket without paying for it? 

You may be accused, but it may not be a crime 

It’s not surprising that the employee would think that you intended to steal that item, but this may not be a crime. Generally speaking, the main definition of shoplifting is leaving that store while you still have the items that you didn’t pay for. There are other ways to steal from a store, such as consuming food while you’re in the store or altering the price tags, but most of these cases revolve around people who attempt to go back to their car. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be accused of attempting to steal. But you may be able to claim that you had no intent to steal and explain your situation. Additionally, the authorities often don’t want to deal with low-level theft, especially when it’s not clear if the theft even occurred. 

If you have been accused, however, then it’s time to start looking into your legal rights. You know that you didn’t mean to do anything wrong, and you need to do what you can to protect your future.

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