Most people have seen some sort of shoplifting visual gag in a movie or television show. Someone wearing a skimpy outfit tries to hide a loaf of bread inside their dress or someone walks out of a store like a penguin, only to drop multiple cans as soon as they actually lift one of their arms.

Media representation of shoplifting makes it seem like it is a clear-cut, obvious situation. However, many people who wind up charged with shoplifting offenses may have never had any intention to actually steal something.

Georgia’s shoplifting laws err on the side of protecting retail establishments, which means that there are things you can do in a store that could lead to an arrest, even if you never leave the store with merchandise that you didn’t pay for.

Any attempt to conceal merchandise can lead to shoplifting charges

Maybe you know you need a new pair of sunglasses, so you stop by a display and try a few pairs on. Then you hear your child call from a few aisles over, so you instinctively push the sunglasses up onto the crown of your head and respond to your child. You proceeded to move through the store without any thought of the sunglasses still on your head. Then loss prevention stops you as you try to exit the store with your purchases.

Placing something inside your clothing, under your coat in the cart or on your person, even if you intend to pay for it, could lead to loss prevention professionals or security staff stopping you and alleging an attempt at shoplifting.

Trying to game the retail system is a shoplifting offense, too

There are many ways in which an individual could attempt to manipulate the modern retail system for their own benefit. For example, you could go through the self-checkout and instead of paying the exorbitant price per pound for dragon fruit, you ring your produce purchase up as very cheap potatoes.

Some people go even further, printing new labels or barcodes to place over the existing one on a product in order to have it scanned for a lower price or moving items from one piece of packaging to another. Any attempt to alter a barcode or manipulate the packaging of a retail product could also result in shoplifting allegations.

People could wind up accused of shoplifting for actions that the store’s staff perceives as shoplifting but that weren’t done with any intent to steal. Those facing shoplifting charges may have multiple options if they choose to defend against their pending Georgia theft charges.