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4 things you should know about shoplifting in North Carolina

In North Carolina, shoplifting is taken seriously -- but the laws regarding theft are often hard to understand.

In order to protect yourself, there are some facts everyone should know.

1. Shoplifting is part of the larceny statute

North Carolina uses the term "larceny" to describe everything from shoplifting to armed robbery.

One of the big distinctions between shoplifting and other types of theft is that shoplifting always takes place inside a store and is a misdemeanor. Once you leave the store, it becomes another type of larceny and is potentially a lot more serious.

2. Shoplifting requires an act of concealment

Shoplifting includes concealing an item so that you can get out of the store without paying for it or concealing the true price of an item.

For example, imagine you go to buy a television and see one of the same make and model for sale at a reduced price because it was opened and returned and the box was damaged. If you take the reduced price tag off the returned model and put it on a box that's never been opened, that's shoplifting -- even if both items are the same.

3. It's easier to prove actual theft than shoplifting

Having an item concealed isn't automatically proof that you intend to steal it. For example, you may have your coat thrown over an item in your cart because you're hot, not because you are concealing it with the intent to avoid paying for it.

That makes it easier for store security to let people actually take the item out of the store and then charge them with another form of larceny. That's potentially much more serious -- if the item taken is worth more than $1000, the charge becomes a felony.

4. Security officers aim to get a written confession

Once store security believes they have a shoplifter in their sights, they'll usually try to get that person to sign a written confession. They may promise that they'll simply bar you from the store and let you go if you sign.

Never believe this. A signed confession is all they need to potentially make their accusation stick.

Anyone accused of shoplifting or outright theft of store merchandise should ask to speak to a criminal defense attorney before they speak with authorities. It's the best thing to do to protect your legal rights.

Source: www.ncleg.net, "Subchapter V. Offenses Against Property Article 16 Larceny," accessed Jan. 31, 2018

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