Organized Retail Theft Charge Explained

LIBERTY, August 16, 2012 - According to Liberty Police Chief Billy Tidwell his department is responding to Shoplifting calls almost daily and recently there has been a change in State Law having to do with Organized Retail Theft.

A writer of a FEEDBACK REPLY recently stated, “I do not understand why this lady (a shoplifter) and others have received that charge for what they were caught stealing. They can get that charge thrown out, since the value was less than $1500.”

According to Chief Tidwell, the $1500 amount to which the writer referred was in the old statute. In the last Texas legislative session the values schedule was changed. Up to $50.00 value of stolen property is now a Class B Misdemeanor. Between $50.00 and $500.00 value is a Class A Misdemeanor. The penalty continues into felony range as the value of the theft increases.

While there remains an option to file a Class C Misdemeanor for the lesser amounts, we have decided not to do that. Theft of an item costing less than $1.00 will result in the arrest of the shoplifter for a Class B Misdemeanor. A Class B Misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $2000 and a County Jail sentence up to 6 months or both.

As a department we brought in investigators with the Texas Retail Theft Association to train our officers in all of the new statutes as well as the methods by which people shoplift, the incredibly high numbers of people involved in shoplifting and the staggering costs all consumers pay for these thefts in the long run.

"We currently find our officers responding to shoplifting calls almost daily and several times on some days. As a department, and with approval from the County Attorney’s Office, we have chosen to file all of these under the Organized Retail Theft statute in order to increase the penalties for these thefts and hopefully deter some of them," said Chief Tidwell.

If anyone has a question about how or why charges get filed I would encourage them to call the City of Liberty Police Department at 936 336-5666.

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