Written by attorney Jonathan Andrew Paul

Novi Shoplifting Retail Fraud Attorney - Being Proactive - 52-1 Defense Lawyer

According to experts on the subject, the crime of shoplifting in Michigan can be broken into a few different categories. Each of these categories has its on personality traits and different reactions to being caught and charged.

About half of all retail fraud crimes in Michigan are committed by compulsive shoplifters. Just like an alcoholic, drug user, gambler or problem eater, the problem lies in personal issues going on in one's life usually associated with anger or depression. The items this group tends to steal are inexpensive, without much value to the person stealing them, but they simply can't help themselves. It's like the alcoholic who drinks straight from a ten dollar bottle of cheap vodka. There's little enjoyment/taste or flavor from the experience, but they simply don't care. Many times these people actually steal for others or give to people less fortunate. Many of these people have good paying jobs, money and credit cards in their pocket, and could easily afford the items.

This type of shoplifter will usually act shameful and guilty to the loss prevention officer, often cry or beg to be let go, and will likely confess to the entire offense without much prodding. This type of shoplifter will usually make winning a retail fraud case quite difficult due to a full confession, which will satisfy the prosecutor's burden of needing to show intent to steal the items.

The next category recognized by experts are the professional shoplifter who makes a living off stealing from stores. This shoplifter is the opposite of the compulsive shoplifter in that they will often target high-end items or multiple items. These shoplifters often have a lot of experience, and have researched techniques to steal from stores, often using special tools or techniques to evade being caught. This shoplifter does not show emotion, and will often not speak to the loss prevention officers or the police department. This type of shoplifter may try to leave the scene. If successful, this type of shoplifter will often attempt to sell the items on the internet or to others for money.

The next category is the shoplifter who steals due to need, and not luxury, greed or compulsion. This shoplifter will steal food, clothing or hygiene products for themselves or their family. Many times the high cost of a newborn baby will cause a family member to steal to provide for that baby such as expensive baby formula. This type of shoplifter will act sad and often admit to the reason for stealing the items.

The next category is the person who steals for the thrill/fun of it. Many people get a high off stealing from a store, but it is not a compulsion where they cannot help themselves. Often this type of stealing happens in young kids who simply want to be cool or show friends that they can do it. Often times this type of shoplifter will not say much to loss prevention or the police department.

The next category is the person who steals to maintain another habit. They are not addicted to shoplifting itself, but rather alcohol, drugs or gambling. Someone needs to get their fix and lacks the money to support it. They view shoplifting as a means to the money they need to support their habit and would rather risk the consequences than not be able to get their fix. This category goes for high-end items with the possibility of a big return on their risk. This category can turn into the professional thief if they continue to steal to support their habit, but many times the idea of stealing is a last resort, and being caught stealing will hopefully lead to the person getting help for their real habit.

The final category is the person who simply doesn't mean to steal the item(s). Many parents with children with them, elderly people, people on medication or suffering from memory issues will leave a store without paying for an item. This person lacks the intent, and are not actually guilty of anything. The issue remains, the prosecutor will still prosecute you, and force you to show your innocence at a trial. ​

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