Friday, April 26, 2013

New State Law Could Leave Shoplifters with Five-Year Sentence

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Shoplifting, to many, appears as a lapse in self-restraint: kleptomania, psychologists have deemed it. Currently, shoplifters spend 90 days in jail and pay about $200 in fines. Recently, shoplifting has begun to evolve into organized retail crime with farther reaching consequences. A new Michigan state has gone into effect with stiffer penalties aimed to combat this growing problem. Individuals participating in this more sophisticated version of retail fraud could face a five-year felony sentence.

Over the past fives years, rates of shoplifting have risen between 3% and 4%. While the effects of shoplifting aren’t always readily apparent, the average American household pays for the crime: $500 a year to cover losses. And while the ordinary shoplifter is easily deterred by retailers, those involved in organized theft are much more brazen in their actions, often crossing state lines with their stolen merchandise in order to sell it for a profit. As a result, more than 15 states have passed new laws targeting retail fraud; however, legislators are still pushing to make it a federal law.

The penalties perpetrators will face as a result of the new law are meant to deter these individuals. For example, a Clinton Township man stole a shopping cart full of Red Bull energy drinks from a Kroger store in December, planning to sell the drinks to party stores. Under Michigan’s existing retail fraud laws, the most the man would face was 93 days in jail. However, under the new law, he could face five years in prison and a hefty $2,000 fine.

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If you have questions about retail fraud or other legal issues, please contact Mark Mandell or Tariq Hafeez at 248.380.0000 or online at

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