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What you should know about Colorado’s shoplifting laws

Posted on December 13, 2021

There’s been a lot of media coverage lately about brazen, violent invasions and thefts involving retailers on pricey Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to home improvement superstores. However, individual cases of shoplifting are far more common.

In addition to stepped-up security around the holidays, most retailers have surveillance equipment throughout their stores and anti-theft devices that are virtually impossible to remove. Being stopped for suspected shoplifting isn’t something to be taken lightly. Under Colorado law, there’s no “shoplifting” charge. In many cases, it falls under the “Theft” statute.

Theft charges

The potential criminal charges depend on the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. For example, if someone is accused of stealing something valued at under $50, they could face up to six months behind bars and a $500 fine. If the goods are valued between $5,000 and $19,999, a person could face up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The penalties go up from there.

Concealing goods

Colorado has two other statutes that address types of shoplifting. One involves “Concealment of Goods.” This is when someone “willfully conceals unpurchased goods.” The concealment is considered evidence that a person didn’t intend to pay for the merchandise.

If someone walks out of a store with a piece of jewelry stuffed in an inside pocket of their ski jacket, they’re going to have a hard time making a case that they were just keeping it safe until they got to the register and then forgot they had it.

Tampering with theft detection devices

Another statute involves theft detection devices. It’s illegal to “knowingly deactivate or remove a theft detection device” or to make, distribute or sell a theft detection shielding device for the purpose of theft.

The rights of retailers to detain suspected shoplifters

Retailers and their employees as well as law enforcement officers have considerable protection when it comes to detaining someone they suspect of shoplifting. Under the law, as long as someone triggered an alarm or left the premises with an item they didn’t pay for, they can’t be held liable for things like unlawful detention, false arrest or slander.

Whatever the situation, if you find yourself facing criminal charges for shoplifting, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance. This will help you protect your rights and determine the best course of action.