Sometimes, life’s pressing situations can leave one in desperate financial circumstances. There are many factors that drive an individual to shoplift, but some speculate that South Carolina’s shoplifting laws themselves could point toward one explanation. The state’s laws on shoplifting were at one time among the most lenient in the country, and lawmakers eventually began to reconsider toughening those regulations. This is a positive step for the state’s retail businesses, but what could it mean for those who commit small shoplifting crimes?
WIS10 News acknowledges the history of shoplifting issues in South Carolina — an issue that has cost retail businesses thousands over the years. According to WIS, a number of professional shoplifting rings in recent years caused legislators to reassess the state’s penalties regarding the crime. At one time, South Carolina held some of the country’s most lenient felony thresholds in the southeast, and WIS uses information provided by the South Carolina Retailers Association to show that one would have to steal $2,000 worth of merchandise before facing a felony in the state. Depending on the county, shoplifters could now face multiple penalties in one count, raising the maximum prison sentence for the crime to 10 years.
The reality of that change in penalties is shown in a resource provided by the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. According to the NASP, a person caught shoplifting could face a misdemeanor triable in magistrate’s court; upon conviction, that person could also owe the state up to $1,000 and could face jail time of up to one month. This penalty is the mildest of South Carolina’s updated standards on shoplifting consequences: a more severe offense could constitute as a felony, which would result in 5 to 10 years of prison time and thousands more dollars owed to retailers and to the state.