Shoplifting Laws in Missouri: Learn About Missouri Shoplifting Laws

by Diana Y.

Missouri Shoplifting Laws, Shoplifting Laws Missouri

What are shoplifting laws in Missouri?

Shoplifting is a crime and a form of theft- whether noticed or unnoticed. It’s a discreet activity committed by amateurs and professionals, regardless of race, ethnicity or background. Usually, a shoplifter visits a store and picks up an intended product of his/her interest, and conceal it in pockets or underclothes, and exit the store without making a payment. The act of shoplifting is different from a burglary which is an act of break-in. It is considered as a store theft and classified as an act of larceny.

There are two kinds of shoplifters: amateur and professional. Amateur shoplifters are impulsive and could be from any class of income or social background; whereas professional shoplifters do it for a living- they resell the merchandise elsewhere. Every year the retail industry reports losses due to shoplifting and term it as “shrinkage” in their financial reports. It refers to store merchandise lost as a result of shoplifting, damage to uninsured goods during transportation, perishable products, etc

Current situation: US Store personnel rights and empowerment

Across many states in the United States, store employees and managers have minimal empowerment under state law to detain suspected shoplifters for a reasonable time to carry out search and investigation. After completion of search formalities, the store security personnel will call the police to store premises.

The police officer will issue a ticket under shoplifting charges based on either of the following grounds: shoplifting, stealing goods of value less than $500, or theft. A court date will be given, and the accused could appear on their own or hire a lawyer for personal representation.

Missouri: Law against shoplifting

Shoplifting is a petty crime and considered an act of misdemeanor. In the state of Missouri, if a shoplifter has been proved to have stolen merchandise worth less than $500, then it’s a misdemeanor under Class-A, for which the judge may award a jail term of up to one year with a fine ranging up to $1000. Apart from criminal charges, the Missouri state law empowers stores to file civil cases against shoplifters for the loss to be compensated and damages. The store attorney will issue a notice of demand for $250 to be recovered and paid to the store- only after having won the lawsuit judgment.

The charge under misdemeanor for theft under $500 is for one year, or if proved as a felony the jail sentence could be for three years. The prosecutor has exactly one year from the date of registered offense to file a case against the accused shoplifter. The charge could be under a misdemeanor or under the charge of felony.

In reality, lawsuits are expensive and time-bound. Instead, many stores rely on debt collection firms to deal with accused shoplifters. These debt collection firms take care of issuing a demand letter and make threatening calls over the phone to recover the money due to the store.

The accused shoplifter if found guilty in the court of law; then the conviction stays as a permanent criminal record. It’s not possible to have it erased. The offender could face lots of difficulties in getting a job or getting an apartment on rent, or maybe to seek a loan, or possible to even try and get admission into a college or university. The repercussion of having shoplifted could have far-reaching effects as well- the store could permanently prohibit from stepping on their premises. If the security store personnel detect the presence of an ex-shoplifter then charges of trespassing could be levied.


The laws are clearly laid down, and there is a process in place. Ignorance of the law cannot be an excuse. Almost all stores mandatorily caution and educate shopkeepers to stay on the side of the law.

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