In a qualified 7-4 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation Wednesday, Feb. 12, to create a separate crime of shoplifting in Alabama. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Several committee members indicated changes to SB62 by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, would be necessary to gain their full support.
Chambliss said his intention is to get a “clean code dealing strictly with shoplifting” into Alabama law.
The bill allows for in-store arrests, rather than waiting until the suspect steps outside the building without purchasing merchandise. Chambliss said police pursuit of a shoplifting suspect through a YMCA and elementary school parking lot is why he included that provision in his bill.
The punishments, fines and felony threshold for shoplifting would remain the same as they are under the current theft statute, under Chambliss’ legislation. An identical bill gained approval from the Alabama Senate in the Alabama Legislature’s 2019 regular session but never made it to the House for debate. As occurred last year, legislation also has been proposed this year to revise the state’s theft law.
Under SB62, anyone, acting alone or with another person, would be subject to a charge of shoplifting if their intent was to knowingly take the merchandise without paying for it or to deprive the merchant of all or part of the merchandise’s value. Knowing intent includes doing any of the following:
- Taking possession, or attempting to take possession, of two or more items of retail merchandise by concealing it in any way.
- Altering, transferring or removing the label, price tag or any other markings that aid in determining the value of retail merchandise and purchasing, or attempting to purchase, the merchandise at less than its value.
- Transferring merchandise from one container to another with the intent to purchase the merchandise at less than its value.
- Causing the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the value of the merchandise.
- Failing to scan the barcode and pay for merchandise at a self-checkout register.
- Altering, disabling or removing any security or alarm device attached to or holding the merchandise prior to its purchase.
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