Skip to main content

Shoplifting/Switching Prices. Petty shoplifting?

Los Angeles, CA |

A family member has been told that that Costco will be investigating (looking at videos, etc) and press charges cause he switched price tags. He didn't get caught doing it but at the register a worker peeled off the barcode sticker and asked if he would like to purchase the item, the family member said no. A week later when another family member attempted to buy with the same membership and he was stopped and told that he has been switched price tags (Costco checked their system and saw the same items/barcodes bought repeatedly.) They've threatened that family member into giving information to press charges. Is this considered petty theft? What can they do?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 6


Never speak to anyone except an experienced criminal defense attorney. As a Former Deputy District Attorney, I have learned that many prosecutions would be impossible, but for an admission. Call an experienced lawyer NOW. Many of us on AVVO offer FREE consultations, so make a call..............David Wallin


Yes, it is considered stealing. If the police get involved and you are charged you will need to hire a lawyer. It sounds like they need to quit switching bar codes.


Price switching can be either charged as petty theft (loss under $900) or grand theft, but is correctly charged as attempted petty theft since the store knows about the price switch.
In any event, any statements made to Costco will be turned over to the police. I recommend you hiring an attorney to talk to the atore.


Shoplifting is petty theft. However, neither Costco nor any other commercial organization has the ability to "press" charges. Only the District Attorney can charge you with a crime. Of course, Costco could file a police report which the police could then forward to the DA. But, the DA is under no obligation whatsoever to follow up on it by filing charges.

The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions can only be fully answered through consultation with an attorney to whom you give full and accurate details. Anything you post here is not confidential and is not protected by the attorney-client relationship. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting.


Price switching is likely attempted theft as property was not actually taken but there likely is intent and a sufficient act to rise to attempted theft. Certsinty since Costco has this seriously, your family member should. Also your query seems to suggest that Costco believes this price switching was not a one time episode and may have occurred repeatedly with prior incidences resulting in property, re-labeled with different prices, actually being scanned and leaving the store. If this occurred - and costco definitely has the electronic records tying the consumer to the purchases and corresponding video surveillance - the government could charge your friend with burglary for the prior incidences as the repeated pattern of conduct circumstantially proves the intent to steal items was formed before entering the store (which is burglary). Your friend should never enter Costco again. Your friend should never speak to law enforcement. Your friend should hire an attorney asap

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall


Sound advice! Any prosecutor will definitely consider burg here.


More information is needed to address your question(s)/concern(s). A qualified attorney can advise upon your providing all relevant facts.

Criminal defense topics

Recommended articles about Criminal defense

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer