Most people enter a retail establishment with the intent to pay for their purchases. Some, however, have other plans. Instead of using money to pay for goods, they may resort to stealing. They may switch price tags, dishonestly exchange or return items, or decide not to pay for an item altogether. This is called retail theft and it accounts for 1 in 13 arrests in Michigan.
Most of these incidents fall under the category of petty theft, which means that the value of the stolen item is under $200. Each state has its own laws, but this is considered a misdemeanor in Michigan. Penalties include up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
When the value of the stolen item ranges from $200 to $1,000, this is considered second degree retail fraud. This is still considered a misdemeanor, but the penalties increase to a $2,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
If the value of the stolen item is more than $1,000, the charge is elevated to a felony. This can result in up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Between 2008 and 2016, there has been a 16 percent overall decrease in crime in Michigan. During that same time frame, retail theft has dropped by 12 percent. In 2008, there were 21,340 arrests for retail theft. That number dropped to 18,836 in 2016.
Most of the arrests in 2016 were for shoplifting. More than 90 percent were for simple theft. Switching price tags and other types of fraud and misrepresentation accounted for just 4 percent of arrests. Three percent of arrests were for fraudulent exchanges and returns. Organized shopping rings made up less than 1 percent of arrests.
Most retail fraud arrests in Michigan—79 percent—were made by local police. County sheriffs made 18 percent of the arrests, while state police made just 3 percent of arrests.
When it comes to arrests for various crimes, men tend to outnumber women. Retail theft is the rare exception. More women than men are arrested for retail theft—53 percent vs. 47 percent.
Of the 83 counties in Michigan, Otsego County had the highest arrest rate for retail fraud in 2016. There were 142 arrests in the county, and 124 of those were in the city of Gaylord. Five counties in Michigan had no arrests for retail fraud: Presque Isle, Keweenaw, Cass, Alcona and Montmorency.
Many people engage in theft because they believe it is a victimless crime. However, when shoplifting and other types of theft occur, retailers lose money. They must then raise prices to make up the difference, and this affects customers.
If you have been arrested for a retail theft charge, get legal help right away. You could face fines and prison time. The aggressive criminal defense attorneys from Nickola Law can help provide you with a solid defense. For more information, contact Nickola Law at (810) 767-5420 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.
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