As the LAPD seeks shoplifting suspects wanted in relation to an alleged theft that occurred on May 31, the department has asked the public for help identifying the suspect. Witnesses of the alleged crime reported that the two women walked into the store and appeared to be browsing, and ended up in the women’s clothing section. Shortly thereafter, both of them entered the dressing room. The employee working at the time asked if they needed any assistance, to which the women replied that they did not.
The women left the dressing rooms and exited the store. When the employee checked the dressing rooms afterward to put the merchandise back on the racks, the dressing rooms were devoid of clothing and hangers. The employee then checked the racks where the women were browsing and noticed four empty hangers, after which she called the police.
Shoplifting is covered under California Penal Code 459.5 PC and is described as entering an open business with the intention of stealing merchandise worth $950 or less. Interestingly, while the term “shoplifting” has been around for a long time, shoplifting as a crime was created with the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014. Previously, shoplifting could be prosecuted under California’s burglary laws.
For the vast majority of defendants, shoplifting is a misdemeanor charge with the possible penalties of summary probation, up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. However, for defendants with certain priors, including sex crimes, murder, and any other serious or violent felony that can be punishable by life in prison or the death penalty, shoplifting can be charged as a felony. In these cases, the penalties for felony shoplifting include formal probation, 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
The value of the missing clothing in the case above is valued at $226, so the two suspects would more than likely face only misdemeanor charges.