Shoplifting More Prevalent in Broward County, Study Shows

A new study by University of Florida researchers shows that shoplifters nationwide take about $11.6 billion a year in merchandise, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Security companies and retail shops alike have been conducting more and more studies about shoplifting, bringing the crime into the spotlight in South Florida. This means that police and prosecutors may very well be more apt to seek tough penalties against West Palm Beach shoplifting suspects. West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers are sometimes able to beat shoplifting charges based on faulty evidence or get charges reduced so that defendants don’t have to spend time in jail. We pride ourselves on providing aggressive defense for our clients and protecting your rights.

The news article cited some examples of shoppers taking liquor, expensive underwear and shoes that were likely re-sold for profit. And the National Retail Federation says retailers pass on the costs of shoplifting to consumers.

In 2010, Broward and Palm Beach counties reported a total of more than 83,000 incidents of larceny, which includes shoplifting and fraud. It’s down from 2009, but up from the 2005 to 2008 averages. Some attribute the high number to the slumping economy and the ease of selling stolen items online.

And while some people believe that shoplifting is a minor crime that the criminal justice system takes lightly, those convicted can face significant consequences, depending on the amount stolen. In Florida, stealing between $!00 and $300 in merchandise is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. But anything above that but under $5,000 in value is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Once someone steals more than $5,000 in goods, prosecutors can punish them with a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

And repeat misdemeanor offenders can have a third offense bumped to a felony. Stores determine whether to press charges and sometimes they don’t. But a recent retail survey by the National Retail Federation reports that 95 percent said they were victimized by organized criminals.

Companies don’t like to be victimized and while some may decide that they don’t want to go through the process of filling out a police report, some will. And they will use their surveillance cameras and witness testimony to try to nail a suspect.

That’s why if you are arrested and charged with this type of crime, you should immediately consult an experienced attorney. Being able to fight video surveillance and possible suppress it as evidence in a trial could be key to proving a defendant not guilty of the charges.

The most important thing is not to give a statement to police if you are charged with a crime. Trying to talk your way out of an arrest only gives law enforcement and the state more ammunition in proving you guilty. Consult with West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers in order to protect your rights.

If you are arrested with shoplifting charges in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

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