Legislation that would have allowed police to arrest suspected shoplifters inside a store gained approval from the Alabama Senate but never made it to the House for debate in the Alabama Legislature’s 2019 regular session.
SB120 by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, would have created a separate crime of shoplifting in Alabama. Under Chambliss’ legislation, the punishments, fines and felony threshold for shoplifting would have remained the same as they are under the current theft statute.
Shoplifting will continue to be prosecuted under the state’s theft law. Additional legislation proposed during the 2019 regular session would have revised the state’s theft law to help ease prison overcrowding.
Both shoplifting and the felony threshold could be part of an anticipated special session in the fall dealing with prisons.
Chambliss’ bill would have allowed in-store arrests, rather than having to wait until the suspect steps outside the building without purchasing merchandise. “Under the current theft statute, you have to physically leave the building before you can be arrested,” Chambliss told lawmakers.
Under SB120, anyone, acting alone or with another person, would have been 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 would have included 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.
This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!
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