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Can shoplifting be accidental?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2022 | Theft & Property Crimes

When considering shoplifting, we tend to think about the assailant who has deliberately concealed goods and bolted from the store. However, it’s not always that straightforward.

People find themselves facing shoplifting charges all the time when they had no intention whatsoever to steal. How does accidental shoplifting occur?

Simple errors

It’s a Saturday, and you’ve been to the grocery store to pick up food for your family. You’re in the habit of keeping your receipts, and you pull it out of the bag as you unpack the produce at home. The total is different from last week, and you tend to get the same shop every week. At the time, you assumed there had just been a sale, but it turns out that you weren’t charged for a few items. The cashier must have forgotten to scan them or not scanned them properly, but you’ll sort it out next time you go in. Technically, you may face criminal charges if this happens.


You’re searching for a new pair of sunglasses and you’ve found the perfect item. As you’re making your way to the checkout, your cell phone rings. It’s the headteacher from your child’s school. They’ve had a fall and are going to be alright, but the school needs you to come in. Instinctively, you dash outside of the store and make your way to the car. You placed the sunglasses in your pocket without even noticing. You could face charges for this.

Intent matters

For most crimes, intent is a fundamental aspect. If you had no intention of stealing property, then you probably have a legitimate defense. Make sure you have an experienced team behind you who can guide you on your way to tackling criminal charges.