Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Retail Theft (Shoplifting) Charges in Illinois

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Illinois Criminal Law » Retail Theft (Shoplifting) Charges in Illinois

The crime of Retail Theft (often informally called Shoplifting) in Illinois is defined by 720 ILCS 5/16-25 as the crime a person commits under any of the following circumstances:


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(1) Takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value of such merchandise; or

(2) Alters, transfers, or removes any label, price tag, marking, indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase such merchandise at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise; or

(3) Transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment from the container in or on which such merchandise is displayed to any other container with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise; or


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(4) Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise; or

(5) Removes a shopping cart from the premises of a retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such cart; or

(6) Represents to a merchant that he, she, or another is the lawful owner of property, knowing that such representation is false, and conveys or attempts to convey that property to a merchant who is the owner of the property in exchange for money, merchandise credit or other property of the merchant; or


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(7) Uses or possesses any theft detection shielding device or theft detection device remover with the intention of using such device to deprive the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment without paying the full retail value of such merchandise; or

(8) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner and thereby intends to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the property when a lessee of the personal property of another fails to return it to the owner, or if the lessee fails to pay the full retail value of such property to the lessor in satisfaction of any contractual provision requiring such, within 10 days after written demand from the owner for its return. A notice in writing, given after the expiration of the leasing agreement, by registered mail, to the lessee at the address given by the lessee and shown on the leasing agreement shall constitute proper demand.

Retail Theft is often a class A misdemeanor for first offenses that are under $300 in value and which do not involve a “theft detection shielding device or theft detection device remover,” meaning the maximum penalty is 1 year in the county jail. Retail theft charges involving a “theft detection shielding device or theft detection device remover,” repeat offenses, or cases where the value exceeds $300 are generally Class 4 felonies, which carry up to 3 years in prison. Different dollar amount thresholds apply for motor vehicle fuel in Illinois, with the number $150 replacing $300. There are also provisions which make retail theft that is part of an ongoing scheme, or where an emergency exit is used, even more serious.

Those facing a Retail Theft charge in Illinois are well advised to exercise their right to remain silent and seek an attorney at once, as the penalties for a conviction can be quite severe.


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