With the holiday season almost upon us, the concerns begin to rise of an increase in petty theft crimes. Petty theft is outlined in the California Penal Code Statues 484 and 488 as the stealing of property valued at $950 or less. Shoplifting shares the common characteristics of a petty theft crime, except it has to involve the entering of a business that is currently open during normal hours with the intent to steal. Shoplifting is further defined by California Penal Code 459.5.
The holidays are supposed to be a time for sharing, giving, and joy amongst family and friends. People spend hours in stores, shopping for gifts, purchasing merchandise, and enjoying themselves. However, with the holiday season comes a prime time for petty thieves and shoplifters to take advantage. It is important for both shoppers and store employees to be very aware of the higher likelihood that someone will attempt to commit petty theft or shoplifting.
There are a range of reasons and rationalizations thieves will give for stealing. During the holidays, perhaps it is because they are in need of money to buy gifts for their families and cannot afford to, or they lost their job. For others, stealing during this time of year comes with the opportunity to then sell the items they steal to people looking to buy things cheap.
With bigger crowds means less chances to be noticed. Shoplifters and petty thieves know that this is a time when they can blend in easier amongst the masses of shoppers. With stores overrun with customers searching out deals in their hunt for presents, and employees busy helping patrons, no one may notice if someone slips a video game or a piece of jewelry in their jacket.
Additionally, thieves know that customers leaving these stores are carrying both money and merchandise, so they may target department stores and places where they can wait for shoppers to leave with their purchases. Again, with more crowds of people on the streets, no one may notice if a thief slips their hand into a purse, shopping bag, or pocket and takes the contents inside.
In the event that you are accused of committing petty theft in Orange County or shoplifting, you could be facing a misdemeanor. However, if you have prior offenses, this charge could be elevated to a felony. It is important to understand your legal rights in these cases and the possible punishments you could receive. If you are charged with petty theft or shoplifting, contact a theft defense attorney at the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti and find out how we can help you address the issues and concerns of your case. Give us a call at (714) 530-9690 or Toll Free (888) 478-8999.