If you are apprehended for shoplifting in North Carolina, you can get accused of either a misdemeanor offense or an offense as serious as a felony. What you will be charged with depends upon the circumstances of your case. However, you may be subject to North Carolina’s new law surrounding organized retail theft and not even realize it.
As of December 1, 2022, new laws have gone into effect in the state that can considerably impact retail theft going forward, mainly if you work with others to commit retail theft in tandem.
Organized Retail Theft: What Is It?
Organized retail theft occurs when people work together to commit theft or fraud to steal retail products for financial gain. However, there are several ways a person can commit organized retail theft.
Smash and Grab
Smash and grab attacks where a group of people conspire to meet in one place and grab as much as they can from the store before fleeing
Return fraud is perpetrated when a person does one of a few things. They can use stolen receipts to return merchandise and pocket the return costs, replace labels with labels for higher priced goods and return them for a profit, or they can shoplift an item and then return it for profits.
Cargo theft occurs when someone steals goods when they are on the way to being delivered to a store. They then can sell the merchandise for a profit.
What Does the New Law Say?
Under the law, retail theft involves conspiring with others to commit theft from establishments intending to sell the property stolen for profit or gain. It can also occur when a person takes possession of the stolen retail property and suspect or have reason to know the property gets stolen.
Under the new law, the statute of retail theft includes those who help to organize retail theft, finance it, lead it, or manage it to receive some sort of profit from effectuating the sale or transfer of the stolen property from a store.
What Are the Penalties?
Organized retail theft used to be a Class H felony if the value of the felony was $1,500 or more over three months or a Class G felony if the value exceeded $20,000 over three months. Under the new law, penalties have been reclassified and are now:
Class H Felony
This gets charged if the property’s value is over $1,500 over three months.
Class G Felony
This is charged if the value of the merchandise taken is over $20,000 over three months.
Class F Felony
Merchandise valued at $50,000 over the three months will result in this level of a felony.
Class C Felony
If the merchandise with value of $100,000 or more over three months, then it’s set as this level of a felony.
These are severe felonies that can result in years behind bars.