The retail industry takes shoplifting seriously. This makes sense, as retail theft results in about a $50 billion loss to U.S. shop owners every single year. Even though it may seem to be relatively harmless, shoplifting is a serious offense in the Centennial State. In fact, depending on the value of the item, shoplifting may be a felony.
You probably know that taking something from a store without paying for it qualifies as shoplifting in Colorado. You may not realize, though, that other types of conduct also meet the legal definition of the crime. Here are some examples:
Tampering with containers
From socks to dishes, many items come inside boxes or other types of containers. If you tamper with a container, you may meet the elements of a shoplifting offense. That is, if you place an item inside a container that makes it appear to be a less expensive item, prosecutors may charge you with stealing from the retailer. The same is true if you hide an item inside a larger item and only pay for the larger one.
Switching price tags
At one time or another, everyone has reached the front of the checkout lane only to realize an item is missing a price tag. If you intentionally switch price tags, though, prosecutors may charge you with shoplifting. Put simply, you cannot swap a tag for purposes of paying a lower price or otherwise deceiving a shop owner.
Many store owners allow shoppers to return unwanted items. You should be careful about returning something to a different place from where you purchased it, however. Doing so may constitute shoplifting, whether you receive cash or store credit.
A shoplifting conviction may carry with it significant legal penalties. You may also face a variety of other consequences, such as difficulty obtaining employment, housing or even an education. By understanding what types of conduct constitute shoplifting, though, you can better plan for asserting your legal rights.