Can I be charged for an attempted shoplift for switching tags, even if I left the store without buying the item?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be charged for an attempted shoplift for switching tags, even if I left the store without buying the item?

I made a huge mistake and I’m absolutely terrified. About 2 days ago, I placed the price tag of a 1 toy over the barcode of a $17 watch. They probably have footage of me on camera doing so. I decided to go through the self check out and rang up all of my items, but when I went to pay, this may have been my karma, I realized I left my card in my car. The front end employee came over and was very nice and said he would hold my items for me until I got my card from my car. However, I didn’t go back in because I figured that he would have noticed what I had done. Can I be charged for this? Do they have my picture in the back? I have some acquaintances that work at this target that would know me if they saw my photo. Can they identify me and turn me in?

Asked on November 9, 2017 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Technically, whether or not you left the store, you comiited a crime. Changing a price tag is a misdemeanor offense. However, based on the circumstances, you probably have nothing to worry about since you did not actually take the item and the store doesn't know your name. While they may be able to track you down if there was a camera in the parking lot and it caught you license plate number, I seriously doubt that the store will go to all of that trouble. That all having been said, take this as a lesson and don't do it again.

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