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Can you be charged with theft (shoplifting) if you havent left the shop?
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Can you be charged with theft (shoplifting) if you havent left the shop?


on thin ice
An offence of theft is committed when you 'assume the rights of the true owner'. So if your intention and assumption has been completed YES you could be charged. I accept that it is the police that charge you but you could be arested by the store detective without leaving the shop. The reason why a person is not normally arrested until they have gone past a pay point / left the shop is all to do with evidence and clearly the offence is easier to prove. Things such as removing price tags, hiding goods inside other goods etc inside the shop are all good evidence of your guilty intention. Also on a strict legal point, if you entered the shop with the intention of stealing you could be charged with burglary.
Edit: (1) I've also taught law to security guards for SIA qualifications and whilst Mr Fayd may have certain policies at Harrods they are not a true statement of the law ! ( see their Security Officers response )
(2) You might like to look at the decision in Morris [1984] AC320 .. the defendant had two cases against him, he switched the price labels ( they always put a lower price on dont they .. never a higher one ! ) in one instance he was caught prior to paying the lower price at the tills, in the other after paying at the tills. He was convicted on both counts. So sorry all you that say No but the House of Lords, the Highest UK authority says YES , & agrees with me, or I agree with them.

A N Mouse
In the UK yes. Once you have taken the items with the intention of not paying then you have stolen.

You can't be charged with theft - only the police can charge you - Can you be stopped and detained by store detectives - YES.

It is up to you to prove that you were not going to 'permanently deprive the owner of the item/s'.

As you (general term - not saying you had) had the item/s in your pocket or inside your coat - you will probably get done as the intent to deprive was there or existed.

It is then up to the court to decide if you are charged.

Mike C
Yes if you show or have shown intent to keep the goods without paying.

depending on state law, here in NC I can put someone in jail for concealment as long as they never left the store. Shoplifters who have made it out of the building are only cited and given a ticket with a court date.
While working in GA there was no difference between shoplifting and concealment but I had to do a citizens arrest and go to the magistrate immediately to have them arrested.

Yes you can be charged with shoplifting, however if you haven't left the store, they will have a hard time proving it in court. All you have to say is that they never gave you an opportunity to pay for it.

My friend got caught taking something and putting it into her pocket. Then a shop assistant said 'I saw what you did' and then my friend removed it and put it back on the shelf

But the lady still took her to the back room anyway.

So answer I guess is 'Yes'

Yes if the item is found hidden on you.

Of course if you have are concealing them....

Yak Rider
In the state of Ohio you can be arrested and convicted for concealing the item and/or passing the the cash registers without paying. You do not have to actually leave the store.

Yes you can be charged for Theft (shoplifting) if you haven't left the store, especially if you concealed the items or something, there is more did you put something in your pockets, under you shirt and/or in a bag. THe store security can detain you and await law enforcement arrival who will then officially arrest you whether you left the store or not it doesn't matter. Most likely you incident is on tape so remember what you did and how/if you concealed the item because tapes don't lie....

it depends on the state you are in actually

Yes, if you were concealing the items you intended to remove from the shop.

cookie monster FKA Willz
speaking from a policemans point of view, you would'nt nick someone for theft as you need to prove that "concealing" the items instore is constituting attempted theft, put yourself in the courtroom work around that, the defence lawyer would rip you to shreds for that, trust me!
its just makes a better conviction if you see a clear intention to steal, i.e like he or she has already left the premises.

taxed till i die,
No,You have to have left the premises first .

joan k
No you have to leave the premises

Sara Green
I think you are right, you have to be leaving the shop first to be shop lifting... until then you could be still waiting to pay for it, really. or still shopping or something.

why? are you planning something?

you cant really open something and start eating it until youve paid for it though....

Hard to prove intent, so no...

Sharon J
No, you can have the item anywhere on your person, as long as you do not try to leave the shop, while you are still in the store how can they prove you had not intention of not paying before leaving. Off course it will look very suspicios if you put something secretly into a bag or hide it on your person but - You have not technically stolen until you attempt to leave the store.

No they cannot hold you for shoplifting unless you have set foot from outside the premises, and the shop cannot charge you they can only prosecute, and also if you are ever accused of stealing you are entitled by law to have a police person present before a store detective is allowed to search your bags or your persons,

Ding Dong
No. If you attempt to leave the store without making an effort to pay for the item then you are seen to be stealing it. While you are in the store, you can put items wherever you like as long as you don't try to leave without paying.
If YOU were trying to steal from a shop however, I reckon that you deserve a good slapping.

no you have to leave the premises

I think no - you haven't actually stolen it until you leave the shop. Is there an offence of intending to shoplift?


The Lion Tamer
The answer is NO, if you were within 10 mts of the checkout or pay desk and near a door you could say you was checking the colour or size.............John J

no you have to physically leave the store before they can charge you with theft

definately not
you have to have left the premises
if your stopped beforehand no crime has been commited

This is in Nebraska...so I need somebody who knows Nebraska law please. My friend took something out of a package to look at it and had it in his hand. It was NOT concealed in a pocket....only carrying it in their hand. They were even with the cash register or even a little before it and headed to the door but not even touching door when they were stopped and detained for shoplifting. $4.00 item. They asked him if he was shoplifting. He said he was holding the stuff in his hands. He never said he was trying to shoplift. He is a minor and they did NOT call parents only called police and interrogated him and had him pay fine to store without lawyer or parent present. The papers from the store say right on there that if it is a minor, the parent has to pay. They took his money unlawfully. He also was made to sign a paper saying he would not come back to store for a year but they did not give us a copy of that paper so I do not know if it is an admission to guilt on that paper or not. He had to sign the citation for the court date (again without lawyer or parents present) but it said that it was not an admission to guilt. Do we have a case to fight this or should we just go with the diversion program? Should this stuff and all he said all be thrown out in a court of law because he was a minor and his parents were not called and were not present? I don't understand how they can prove his intent to steal....maybe he forgot he had it in his hands or was going to ask the clerk how it worked before he left? Maybe he would have changed his mind before he hit the doors? They cannot prove what might have happened because they did not give him the opportunity to purchase it. I am just wondering if the fact it was taken out of the package makes it a done deal or not? Can he still have the opportunity to pay for it as it was not concealed? or does holding it in your hand anyway constitute hiding it? Also, if he tries to plead his case saying that they cannot prove it and the Judge just does what he wants anyway and denies it, then is it too late for diversion?

Shoplifter Instructor
It is a wise idea to carry pepper spray or something similar with you and be ready to use it as you leave. Loss prevention is left helpless after a quick spray to their face and you are out the door. That will teach them a lesson, I am sure it will be a long time before they stop someone leaving next time. The more who carry pepper spray, the less loss prevention will risk stopping you.

I am 16 and me and my girlfriend went to walmart. I decided to steal a movie and when security approched us one man grabbed me. The cops told us that because i took the plastic wrap off of the movie we were both getting charged with a felony. Can i get a felony just for removing the plastic wrapper?

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