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Is tag switching a form of shoplifting?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Theft & Property Crimes

When someone is accused of theft or shoplifting, it’s often assumed that they simply tried to take an item without paying for it at all. Maybe they put the item in their pocket and tried to walk through the alarm system at the front of the store. Maybe they purchased other items in their cart but simply buried the items they wanted to steal.

It’s important to remember, however, that this is not the only way that someone can be accused of theft. Another form of theft is known as tag switching. It is not directly shoplifting, per se, but it can still result in legal charges because it is a form of theft.

Finding tags with lower prices

Tag switching is a fairly simple process. In some stores, the barcode that the cashier scans can be switched from one product to another. In other stores, the paper price tag that has been printed and stuck on the item could be peeled off and placed somewhere else.

Once someone does this, they will still go through the cashier’s line and pay for the item. But their goal will be to switch the tag to something that costs far less. They will then hope that the cashier simply scans the item or types in the price without considering what that price should be or what item is even being purchased. Many cashiers are only being paid minimum wage, after all, and they see hundreds or thousands of customers every day.

Has your child been accused?

You may not do this yourself, but perhaps you’re a parent of a child who has been accused of shoplifting or switching tags to get a lower price. You are probably very worried about their future, so it’s important to know what criminal defense options you have.