What is shoplifting?

Shoplifting involves taking goods from a shop without paying for them first. If caught shoplifting, you either will be charged with theft under s1 of the Theft Act 1986; or, if the goods stolen are worth less than £200, for low-value shoplifting under s176 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

Why do people shoplift?

There are a number of different reasons why people shoplift including:

  • People may shoplift because they do not have much money or because they see things in the shops that tempt them, but which they can’t afford.
  • Some shoplifters actually take goods without paying for them as a profession. They will target expensive goods to steal and sell them on to make money.
  • Some people shoplift to raise money to fund a drug habit. They may shoplift for other people or do it themselves and then sell the items on to unsuspecting people.
  • Mental health problems can lead to shoplifting. A good example of this is kleptomania – basically an uncontrollable impulse to take things.

What happens if you are caught shoplifting?

If you’re caught shoplifting, there are many possible consequences, some short term and others long term. Please click here for information on the powers of store detectives in relation to shoplifting.

The possible consequences of being caught shoplifting are:

    You may end up being arrested and taken into custody. If you are convicted in court of shoplifting, you can be fined and/ or jailed for up to six months if the goods are worth less than £200; or for a maximum of seven years if they are worth more than £200. A shoplifting conviction means you will have a criminal record.

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For more information on:

  • How does shoplifting affect others?