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How a shopping cart could lead to baseless shoplifting charges

Shoplifting or retail fraud is a kind of theft that targets businesses open to the public. When retailers leave merchandise out on the shelves accessible to the public, they take the risk of someone leaving the store with items that they have not paid for yet.

Businesses tend to track such losses and incorporate the value of shoplifted items into the prices they charge the rest of the public. They also train their managers in loss prevention techniques or even retain employees whose sole purpose is to prevent shoplifting.

Most of the time, people who get caught up in shoplifting claims try to pocket a DVD or to exit the store with a pair of sunglasses on their heads. Unfortunately, sometimes innocent people get caught up in shoplifting enforcement efforts. Carelessness with your shopping cart might put you at risk of unfounded theft accusations.

Items in the wrong parts of a cart can make you look like a thief

Shopping carts come in multiple designs, but it is common for them to have a main basket and several subsections. Placing things on the rack underneath the main basket or in another part of the cart where they may not be readily visible to store personnel could make you look like someone attempting to shoplift. The same is certainly true of items in your cart that you then set your child or your purse on top of while shopping.

Items that slide into other items can also put you at risk of allegations

One of the many ways that premeditated shoplifting occurs involves someone putting an expensive item into a larger, less expensive item. Slipping a pair of $100 earrings into the toes of $10 slip-on shoes to be an example. While you may not have done that intentionally, if things slide around in your cart while you shop, you could find yourself facing serious accusations.

Getting too close to the exit without going through checkout

Perhaps the most devastating form of shoplifting that involves a cart is pushout theft. Individuals might fill a cart up with expensive items and then make a run for the door. Other times, they may pay for everything in the main basket but leave with unpaid items on the rack underneath. If you try to exit the store with unpaid items in your cart or if it looks like that is what you plan to do, you might find yourself stopped by store employees and waiting for police to come and arrest you.

Understanding why employees confused your actions for shoplifting can be the first step toward defending yourself against theft allegations.

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