Firm Logo
Call for a Free Consultation215-486-0123

What’s the Law on Shoplifting in Pennsylvania?

July 16, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In the middle of March this year, the Delaware Police were looking for a Philadelphia woman suspected of shoplifting across a number of states. She was one of three suspects the police were looking for in relation to theft of over $4,000 in goods from a Nordstrom store. If caught, she will likely face charges in Delaware, since that’s where the alleged crime occurred. However, what penalties would she face if the crime were committed here in Pennsylvania? What do the state laws say about shoplifting?

Shoplifting Defined

Pennsylvania doesn’t have any laws on the books specifically referring to shoplifting. Instead, according to the Pennsylvania Code, this crime is known as retail theft. The definition provided by the Code is any unlawful taking of merchandise from a store or retail establishment.

Also included in the definition is altering or removing labels or price tags, and changing the container or packaging in an attempt to deprive the owner of the full value of the item. Destroying or removing security tags is also considered a form of retail theft. Under this section of the definition, a person doesn’t even have to steal anything in order to face charges of retail theft in Pennsylvania. Simply tampering with a package or removing security tags is a serious offense.

Penalties for Shoplifting in Pennsylvania

Retail theft may not sound like a major crime, but even those convicted of the most minor charges in the state will face serious penalties.

When the value of the times stolen is less than $150 and it’s a first offense, those accused are charged with a summary offense. One of the least serious charges a person could face, summary offenses in Pennsylvania still carry maximum sentences of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $300. As the value of the items stolen increase, so do the penalties.

If the value of the items stolen was over $1,000, those accused will face third-degree felony charges. If convicted, the penalty is up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000. A person may also face third-degree felony charges if the item stolen was a vehicle or a firearm. Retail theft is also considered a third-degree felony if the items stolen are over $2,000 or include a boat, motorcycle, or other motor-propelled vehicle.

Call a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney if You’re Facing Charges

Retail theft may not sound very serious, but it is. Anyone facing charges must speak to a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can help negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser sentence, or build you a solid case so you can beat the charges altogether.

If you have been charged with retail theft or any other crime, you don’t have to fight those charges on your own. Contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today at (215) 486-0123. We’ll review the facts of your case and prepare a defense that will give you your best chance of success in court. Don’t wait when we could be getting started on your case. Call us today or fill out our online form and we’ll get in touch.



Criminal Defense
Firm Logo
Allentown Office609 Hamiltion St,Suite 7Allentown, PA 18101Map & Directions
Philadelphia Office1219 Spruce StPhiladelphia, PA 19107Map & Directions
Montgomery County Office411 Cherry St.Norristown, PA 19401Map & Directions
Follow Us
Make A Payment