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What constitutes shoplifting in Kentucky?

If you are considering going out to do your Christmas shoplifting before the crowds get even thicker, you should understand the risks that you face if you are caught engaging in this criminal activity.

Here are some of the things to consider:

Store security can apprehend you

Here in Kentucky, store employees can nab you on the premises if they know or suspect that you were taking goods without paying for them. Under 433.236 Detention and arrest of shoplifting suspect, a "peace officer, security agent . . . merchant or merchant's employee who has probable cause for believing that goods . . . have been unlawfully taken . . . may take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time, on . . . or off the premises . . ."

Notwithstanding the legal peril a shoplifting charge will place you in, the humiliation of being apprehended in front of a crowd of holiday shoppers might be a deterrent.

You don't even have to swipe it

Suppose that you spied the perfect holiday sweater that fit like it was tailor-made to your body's dimensions. You'd love to wear it out on New Year's Eve, but the cost is prohibitive. So you make the bad decision to don your old sweatshirt over the coveted sweater.

Bundling yourself into your coat, you emerge from the dressing room intending to casually stroll out of the store. But you begin to have second thoughts. Whether it's intuition or a guilty conscience, you decide to head back to the dressing room to take off the sweater. Before you can do so, you feel a heavy hand grip your shoulder.

"Come with me, Ma'am (or Sir)." You are now officially having a really bad day.

Concealing goods is considered theft

The Kentucky courts consider "willful concealment of unpurchased merchandise" while a shopper is still on the store's premises to be "prima facie evidence" that the person intends to deprive the store's owner of the items by not paying for them.

There are other circumstances that can lead to a shoplifting charge, e.g., accompanying another person while he or she employs the five-finger discount. If you are charged with this offense, take it seriously and begin building a staunch defense immediately.

Source: ShopliftingPrevention.org, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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