Houston Criminal Lawyer | Holiday Theft

The end of the year is usually associated with holiday cheer, spending time with friends and family, and festive parties. Unfortunately, many people forget that crime generally increases during the holiday season. Retail crime rises as much as 30% during this time especially as related to the crime of shoplifting (or theft).  40 billion dollars was lost in 2010 to retail theft in the United States, a majority being during the Christmas season.  This means that police patrols and investigations equally increase to combat these problems.

In Harris County, major retailers have dedicated employees and sophisticated technology to prevent and catch those involved with theft. Entire departments of loss prevention personnel secretly roam the shopping aisles watching and waiting for someone to commit thefts.  Some stores, like Neiman Marcus, even have HD security surveillance and are watching you as closely as if you were standing right beside them and can zoom in from multiple angles on anyone they believe is acting suspicious.

Once an individual has been detained for shoplifting, store employees will attempt to force suspects to pay a fine and sign paperwork admitting that they committed theft, right in the store. Usually, the suspect is also confronted with paperwork requiring that they are barred from entering the retailers locations for a year or two period.  Immediately upon detention, an individual should ask for their attorney and refuse to speak or sign anything.  This is the sort of evidence that Prosecutor’s can later use to build their case against you.

Following arrest, anyone arrested for shoplifting will also probably receive letters from debt collection firms (usually located outside of Texas) threatening to file a civil lawsuit if you do not send in a few hundred dollar fee to avoid a lawsuit. Never sign any paperwork or agree to make any payments. You are throwing money away and could damage your possible defenses by signing the documents.  If you receive anything like this, simply give it to your Houston Criminal Attorney.

A perceived growing problem is organized retail crime where a group of people work together to steal  or to have a friend that works in the store in on the theft to help out such as allowing you to check out of the store without paying for every item.  This type of activity is a felony and causes shoplifting to be a much more serious crime and retailers are also on the lookout for anyone that appears to be working together.

 

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