A new law designed to crack down on organized retail crime in Michigan has taken effect.
The bill also covers use of the mail or any electronic medium such as the Internet in such an enterprise.
Organized retail crime is responsible for a large and growing share of the estimated $15–30 billion in annual retail theft nationwide.
“We’re not talking about conventional shoplifters, we’re talking about sophisticated rings of professional criminals who steal for large financial gain,” said James Hallan, president of the Michigan Retailers Association in a news release. “In many instances the stolen merchandise is sold for cash or drugs, which can be used to finance other major criminal activities. Organized retail crime not only hurts retail businesses, it has far-reaching effects throughout society.”
At present, Michigan laws deal primarily with retail fraud. Retail fraud is also known as shoplifting. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen property.
7 Facts About Retail Fraud in Michigan
- Retail fraud can occur where an accused person physically removes the merchandise or alters a price tag.
- Embezzlement can arise when someone works in concert with an employee to steal merchandise.
- Retail fraud can affect a person’s employment prospects. Many businesses have written policies preventing the hiring of employees who have a criminal record involving theft or dishonesty.
- A person convicted of felony retail fraud is ineligible for certain federal student loans.
- Third Degree Retail Fraud is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail plus fines and costs. It covers cases where the merchandise stolen is worth less than $200.
- First Degree Retail Fraud is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. It covers cases where the merchandise stolen is worth more than $1,000 or the person has a prior conviction for retail fraud.
- Other penalties for Michigan retail fraud can include probation, community service, drug and alcohol testing, counseling and work programs.
A criminal defense attorney can offer guidance about dealing with charges of retail fraud.