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What to do if you’re accused of shoplifting or employee theft

Retail Store

Being charged with shoplifting or theft is a serious offense, that in the worst of cases, can even end in jail time. If you are an employee being accused of theft in your place of work, you may also face even harsher punishment. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between shoplifting and employee theft and prepare you for what to do should you find yourself facing either of these situations.


If you are accused of shoplifting, it is likely that a security officer or loss prevention professional will detain you until the police arrive. However, you still don’t have to make a statement, even if you are being held. It is best to keep quiet and ask to call a lawyer before making any formal or casual statements.

In some situations, loss prevention officials might try to add, or mistake other items in your possession for other stolen goods. If you have purchased items during this trip, make sure to keep your receipt so that you can prove the actual amount of stolen items and are not accused of more than necessary. The cost of stolen goods is significant in this case because anything taken up to $100 is considered a Class B felony, but if the amount exceeds $100, then you will need to be arraigned on the charges, which is a much more serious matter to deal with.

Employee Theft

Employee theft, while also a more severe offense than shoplifting, can be more difficult to prove. Don’t say anything to security or officers until you have a lawyer present or you run the risk of incriminating yourself. That includes offering to return stolen items, paying for them, or replacing the stolen money. Always consult a lawyer before making any statements if you are being accused.

In the case of employee theft, is over $750 or goods valued at that amount or higher, you could be facing a class A misdemeanor. In these cases, items that you have already purchased or are on your person may be mistakenly classified as stolen goods as well, so it’s important not to sign anything or make any statements without consulting with a lawyer. You don’t want to sign paperwork accusing you of stealing $5,000, which would be considered a felony if you only took $1,000 worth of property.

In either of these situations, it is crucial to remain calm and not to panic. Making a scene or immediately accusing officials of lying will only make matters worse and draw further attention to the situation. If you are being charged with employee theft or shoplifting, calmly ask to speak to a lawyer before making any statements with the police, officials at the scene, or the shop owners. You may feel initial guilt and offer to pay the amount back immediately. However, it is in your best interest to remain quiet until you know precisely what the outcomes of the situation can be. These are not offenses to be taken lightly and many times shop owners will not offer forgiveness, no matter how apologetic you are following the incident.