Embezzlement: America’s Retail Workers Out-Stealing Shoplifters

Shoplifting is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor in North Carolina, except when the suspect removes an anti-theft security device from the product. In those cases, the person may be prosecuted with a felony charge, although, assuming the amount of theft is relatively low, a deferred prosecution or deferral program is sometimes available. In many other cases, the charge will be reduced to misdemeanor. Rarely, is theft by removal of an anti-theft security device prosecuted as an actual felony.

But embezzlement is another matter entirely. Embezzlement is always a felony, even where the amount of theft is relatively low. While sometimes embezzlement charges can be reduced or dismissed (as part of a deferred prosecution agreement), where the amounts are in the tens of thousands of dollars or more, the person is likely to face a felony prosecution.

As someone who has defended people charged with serious embezzlement charges, where the embezzlement can be proved by the state, the issue comes down to mitigation: how much restitution can be provided to the victims and can a good reason be articulated to explain the theft: a sick child who needs expensive medical treatment, for instance.

The Atlantic reports:

The Global Retail Barometer, an annual report released late last week, revealed that American retail staff steal a lot more from their employers than actual, dedicated thieves: Employees account for 43 percent of revenues that were lost but shouldn’t have been, while shoplifters account for 37 percent. Usually, this takes the form of unsupervised sleight-of-hand at the register—benefiting from purposely canceling transactions that shouldn’t be canceled or issuing unwarranted refunds—and it accounted for about $18 billion in lost retail revenue last year in the U.S.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.