Can I be charged with shoplifting after leaving the store?

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Can I be charged with shoplifting after leaving the store?

I recently took 2 small items that are valued under $10 total from a grocery store by putting them in my purse. I think that one of the workers might have seen me put 1 of the items in my bag but did not say anything or watch me walk around the store. I did purchase other items using a debit card and the cashier said “Thank you (my name)”. I regret taking the items and wish I had never done it. What I am wondering if I will be traced via my debit card info? And, if so, how long would it take for the police to contact me? I did not notice any cameras in the store but I could be mistaken. Also, 1 of the items that I took I also bought 1 of. My address is about a 6 hour drive from where the event occurred

Asked on May 14, 2012 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

Richard Southard / Law Office of Richard Southard

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In New York there is a Staute of Limitations which is the maximum time the police have to make an arrest.  On a shoplifting case in New York State, the police have up to two years to make an arrest.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Shoplifiting is theft which is larceny.  Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the property.  Taking the store's property and carrying it away with the intent to permanently deprive the store of it would be larceny.

Although you could be identified and your address discovered through your debit card information, it is probably unlikely because if the store had known about it, you would have been stopped before leaving the store or just outside the store.  Stores do have alarms usually near the door to detect items being removed which did not go through the bar code scanner.  Also, stores have cameras concealed throughout the store to observe customers and prevent theft.  As for how long it would take the police to contact you, that would depend on the response of the police after being contacted by the store; however that probably won't happen because under the circumstances you described, it would appear that the theft was undetected.


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