Chester County Retail Theft Charge

Chester County's had 1,332 incidents of retail theft, commonly referred to as shoplifting, in 2017. This amounted to approximately 3% of all such offenses in Pennsylvania. The county ranks 8th for the highest number of offenses among the 67 counties in the state. Recent data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) shows that the national average for lost inventory is approximately 1.44%.

Number of Retail Theft Offenses in Chester County (Five-Year Period)

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Total

1344

1875

1572

1739

1332

7862

Across the country, acts of retail theft are increasingly determined to be “organized.” Retailers are challenged by the losses that organized retail crime (ORC) is creating. ORC is now estimated to cost $777,877 for every $1 billion dollars in sales. A recent NFR study indicated that roughly 75% of retailers have experienced an increase in the past year.

Retail Theft Offenses

Statutes in Pennsylvania define retail theft offenses as follows:

  • Removes or otherwise assumes possession of retailer merchandise without paying the full retail price
  • Alters or transfers a price tag or label marking a piece of retailer merchandise with the intention of obtaining it for less than the full retail price
  • Moving retailer merchandise into some other container in order to obtain it without paying
  • Someone “under-rings” a purchase transaction that deprives the merchant of receiving the full retail price for an item
  • Attempts to deactivate, destroy, or remove a device used for the purposes of loss prevention.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Retail Theft Offenses

First-time offenders who have committed theft of items valued at less than $150 are charged with a summary offense. These offenses are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. Second-time offenders who have committed theft of items valued at less than $150 are charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. These offenses are punishable by up to two years of incarceration and up to a $5,000 fine. First or second-time offenders who have committed theft of items valued at more than $150 are charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. These offenses are punishable by up to five years of incarceration and up to a $10,000 fine.

Penalties for Felony Retail Theft Offenses

A third-degree felony charge applies for third-time offenders, or theft of items valued at over $1,000, or when the stolen item is a firearm or motor vehicle. These offenses are punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment and up to a $15,000 fine. A third-degree felony charge also applies to offenses of organized retail theft (ORC). ORC is defined in § 3929.3 and involves theft that is coordinated, supervised, or otherwise organized. If the merchandise involved in an ORC is $20,000 or more the felony charge is increased to a second-degree offense.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)

The Chester County District Attorney may allow retail theft offenders to enter a Non-DUI ARD Program that may extend for up to a two-year period. This program is designed as a diversionary process open to first-time offenders. Those who properly complete the program may qualify to have their offense expunged or dismissed.

Chester County Defense Attorney

Those facing retail theft charges in Chester County are strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento has been aggressively representing clients facing these and other criminal offenses for many years. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for an initial case consultation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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