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Shoplifting Crackdowns And Racial Bias


Many retail stores throughout Texas are trying to crackdown on shoplifting in order to prevent losses. According to a report from Reuters, retail stores across the country “are installing cameras or locking away items to deter shoplifters and thieves as they brace for a post-pandemic rush of holiday shoppers this year.” Many national chains like Walmart and Barnes & Noble have reportedly installed cameras and have implemented additional procedures to prevent shoplifting. Some stores have even hired additional security guards who are supposed to catch shoplifters in the act of theft. Yet as an article in Forbes underscores, these “crackdowns” could result in people of color being unfairly targeted by stores and arrested for theft offenses in connection with racial bias.

What do you need to know about holiday shoplifting charges and what you can do to beat shoplifting charges in Texas?

Considering Shoplifting Crackdowns and Racial Bias Components 

The article in Forbes cites a recent study conducted by researchers at UCLA, which analyzes the treatment of Black women, Black men, White women, and White men in retail stores in relation to shoplifting allegations. With all other factors being equal, and all of the consumer participants using “identical scripts with predetermined answers for each of the possible store employees responses,” Black men and Black women received disparate treatment from retail store employees. That data also suggests that Black shoppers this holiday season could face bias in “crackdowns” or operations designed to catch shoplifters.

Indeed, according to the Forbes article, other studies and anecdotes have revealed that people of color are treated differently in retail settings and may be more likely to face false accusations of shoplifting. There are certain protections against discrimination in retail stores, but the article underscores that there are still seven U.S. states that have not implemented such protections, including Texas.

Understanding Texas Shoplifting Laws 

If you are accused of shoplifting this holiday season, it is important to understand Texas laws surrounding shoplifting and options for defending against charges. Under the Texas Penal Code, shoplifting does not have a specific charge, but rather is charged as a “theft offense.” A person can face theft charges whenever they “unlawfully appropriate property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” Shoplifting can also include altering the price tag on an item to pay a lower price for the product, or switching the price tags of two items in order to pay less for the product than the store was charging. In Texas, shoplifting that involves items with a value of less than $2,500 is a misdemeanor offense, but items with higher values will result in felony charges.

If you are arrested for shoplifting, it is important to determine which defense strategies may be applicable to your case. Common defense strategies include, for example:

  • Constitutional violations;
  • Alibi or mistaken identity;
  • Evidence that you paid for the product; or
  • Entrapment.

Contact a Temple Theft Defense Attorney

 If you are facing any type of theft charges, and especially if you believe the arrest was founded on racial bias, you should get in touch with one of the experienced Temple shoplifting defense attorneys at The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC as soon as possible to get started on your defense.





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