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Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 16A: Illinois Retail Theft Crime Laws

A relatively recent invention, theft detectors have been implemented in stores across the country to catch those attempting to get away with the crime of retail theft. This section of Illinois law discusses this crime and its sentence. In simple terms, a person who carries away any merchandise displayed or held in a mercantile establishment with the intention of keeping it can be found guilty of retail theft. In addition, altering a price tag, transferring merchandise to different containers, or removing a shopping cart from the premises also constitutes retail theft under this section of Illinois law.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been charged with retail theft in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 16A of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 16A

(720 ILCS 5/16A-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-1)

Sec. 16A-1. Legislative declaration.) It is the public policy of this State that the substantial burden placed upon the economy of this State resulting from the rising incidence of retail theft is a matter of grave concern to the people of this State who have a right to be protected in their health, safety and welfare from the effects of this crime. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2)

Sec. 16A-2. Definitions. For the purposes of this Article, the words and phrases defined in Section 16A-2.1 through 16A-2.11 have the meanings ascribed to them in those Sections unless a contrary meaning is clear from the context. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.1

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.1) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.1)

Sec. 16A-2.1. To "conceal" merchandise means that, although there may be some notice of its presence, that merchandise is not visible through ordinary observation. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.2

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.2) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.2)

Sec. 16A-2.2. "Full Retail Value" means the merchant's stated or advertised price of the merchandise. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.3

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.3) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.3)

Sec. 16A-2.3. "Merchandise" means any item of tangible personal property. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.4

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.4) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.4)

Sec. 16A-2.4. "Merchant" means an owner or operator of any retail mercantile establishment or any agent, employee, lessee, consignee, officer, director, franchisee or independent contractor of such owner or operator. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.5

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.5) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.5)

Sec. 16A-2.5. "Minor" means a person who is less than 19 years of age, is unemancipated and resides with his parents or legal guardian. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.6

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.6) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.6)

Sec. 16A-2.6. "Person" means any natural person or individual. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.7

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.7) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.7)

Sec. 16A-2.7. "Peace officer" has the meaning ascribed to that term in Section 2-13 of this Code. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.8

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.8) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.8)

Sec. 16A-2.8. "Premises of a Retail Mercantile Establishment" includes, but is not limited to, the retail mercantile establishment; any common use areas in shopping centers and all parking areas set aside by a merchant or on behalf of a merchant for the parking of vehicles for the convenience of the patrons of such retail mercantile establishment. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.9

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.9) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.9)

Sec. 16A-2.9. "Retail Mercantile Establishment" means any place where merchandise is displayed, held, stored or offered for sale to the public. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.10

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.10) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.10)

Sec. 16A-2.10. "Shopping Cart" means those push carts of the type or types which are commonly provided by grocery stores, drug stores or other retail mercantile establishments for the use of the public in transporting commodities in stores and markets and, incidentally, from the stores to a place outside the store. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.11

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.11) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.11)

Sec. 16A-2.11. "Under-ring" means to cause the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.12

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.12) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.12)

Sec. 16A-2.12. "Theft detection shielding device" means any laminated or coated bag or device designed and intended to shield merchandise from detection by an electronic or magnetic theft alarm sensor. (Source: P.A. 85-749.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-2.13

(720 ILCS 5/16A-2.13) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-2.13)

Sec. 16A-2.13. "Theft detection device remover" means any tool or device specifically designed and intended to be used to remove any theft detection device from any merchandise. (Source: P.A. 85-749.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-3

(720 ILCS 5/16A-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-3)

Sec. 16A-3. Offense of Retail Theft. A person commits the offense of retail theft when he or she knowingly:

(a) Takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value of such merchandise; or

(b) Alters, transfers, or removes any label, price tag, marking, indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale, in a retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise; or

(c) Transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale, in a retail mercantile establishment from the container in or on which such merchandise is displayed to any other container with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise; or

(d) Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise; or

(e) Removes a shopping cart from the premises of a retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such cart; or

(f) Represents to a merchant that he or another is the lawful owner of property, knowing that such representation is false, and conveys or attempts to convey that property to a merchant who is the owner of the property in exchange for money, merchandise credit or other property of the merchant; or

(g) Uses or possesses any theft detection shielding device or theft detection device remover with the intention of using such device to deprive the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment without paying the full retail value of such merchandise. A violation of this subsection shall be a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense; or

(h) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner and thereby intends to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the property when a lessee of the personal property of another fails to return it to the owner, or if the lessee fails to pay the full retail value of such property to the lessor in satisfaction of any contractual provision requiring such, within 10 days after written demand from the owner for its return. A notice in writing, given after the expiration of the leasing agreement, by registered mail, to the lessee at the address given by the lessee and shown on the leasing agreement shall constitute proper demand. (Source: P.A. 89-373, eff. 1-1-96.)

(720 ILCS 5/16A-3.5)

Sec. 16A-3.5. Theft by emergency exit. A person commits the offense of theft by emergency exit when he or she commits a retail theft as defined in Section 16A-3 and to facilitate the theft he or she leaves the retail mercantile establishment by use of a designated emergency exit. (Source: P.A. 94-449, eff. 8-4-05.)

(720 ILCS 5/16A-4) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-4)

Sec. 16A-4. Presumptions. If any person:

(a) conceals upon his or her person or among his or her belongings, unpurchased merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment; and

(b) removes that merchandise beyond the last known station for receiving payments for that merchandise in that retail mercantile establishment such person shall be presumed to have possessed, carried away or transferred such merchandise with the intention of retaining it or with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value of such merchandise. (Source: P.A. 80-352.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-5

(720 ILCS 5/16A-5) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-5)

Sec. 16A-5. Detention. Any merchant who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed retail theft may detain such person, on or off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time for all or any of the following purposes:

(a) To request identification;

(b) To verify such identification;

(c) To make reasonable inquiry as to whether such person has in his possession unpurchased merchandise and, to make reasonable investigation of the ownership of such merchandise;

(d) To inform a peace officer of the detention of the person and surrender that person to the custody of a peace officer;

(e) In the case of a minor, to immediately make a reasonable attempt to inform the parents, guardian or other private person interested in the welfare of that minor and, at the merchant's discretion, a peace officer, of this detention and to surrender custody of such minor to such person.

A merchant may make a detention as permitted herein off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment only if such detention is pursuant to an immediate pursuit of such person.

A merchant shall be deemed to have reasonable grounds to make a detention for the purposes of this Section if the merchant detains a person because such person has in his possession either a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection device remover. (Source: P.A. 91-468, eff. 1-1-00.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-6

(720 ILCS 5/16A-6) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-6)

Sec. 16A-6. Affirmative Defense. A detention as permitted in this Article does not constitute an arrest or an unlawful restraint, as defined in Section 10-3 of this Code, nor shall it render the merchant liable to the person so detained. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-7

(720 ILCS 5/16A-7) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-7)

Sec. 16A-7. Civil Liability.

(a) A person who commits the offense of retail theft as defined in Section 16A-3 paragraphs (a), (b), (c), or (h) of this Code, shall be civilly liable to the merchant of the merchandise in an amount consisting of:

(i) actual damages equal to the full retail value of the merchandise as defined herein; plus

(ii) an amount not less than $100 nor more than

$1,000; plus

(iii) attorney's fees and court costs.

(b) If a minor commits the offense of retail theft, the parents or guardian of said minor shall be civilly liable as provided in this Section; provided, however that a guardian appointed pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act or the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 shall not be liable under this Section. Total recovery under this Section shall not exceed the maximum recovery permitted under Section 5 of the "Parental Responsibility Law", approved October 6, 1969, as now or hereafter amended.

(c) A conviction or a plea of guilty to the offense of retail theft is not a prerequisite to the bringing of a civil suit hereunder.

(d) Judgments arising under this Section may be assigned. (Source: P.A. 93-329, eff. 7-24-03.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-8

(720 ILCS 5/16A-8) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-8)

Sec. 16A-8. If any Section, clause, sentence, paragraph or part of this Article is for any reason adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment will not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the Section, clause, sentence, paragraph or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered. (Source: P.A. 79-840.) 720 ILCS 5/16A-9

(720 ILCS 5/16A-9) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-9)

Sec. 16A-9. Continuation of prior law. The provisions of this Article insofar as they are the same or substantially the same as those of Article 16 of this Code shall be construed as a continuation of such Article 16 and not as a new enactment. (Source: P.A. 79-840.)

(720 ILCS 5/16A-10) (from Ch. 38, par. 16A-10)

Sec. 16A-10. Sentence. (1) Retail theft of property, the full retail value of which does not exceed $150, is a Class A misdemeanor. Theft by emergency exit of property, the full retail value of which does not exceed $150, is a Class 4 felony.

(2) A person who has been convicted of retail theft of property, the full retail value of which does not exceed $150, and who has been previously convicted of any type of theft, robbery, armed robbery, burglary, residential burglary, possession of burglary tools or home invasion is guilty of a Class 4 felony. A person who has been convicted of theft by emergency exit of property, the full retail value of which does not exceed $150, and who has been previously convicted of any type of theft, robbery, armed robbery, burglary, residential burglary, possession of burglary tools or home invasion is guilty of a Class 3 felony. When a person has any such prior conviction, the information or indictment charging that person shall state such prior conviction so as to give notice of the State's intention to treat the charge of retail theft as a felony. The fact of such prior conviction is not an element of the offense and may not be disclosed to the jury during trial unless otherwise permitted by issues properly raised during such trial.

(3) Any retail theft of property, the full retail value of which exceeds $150, is a Class 3 felony. Theft by emergency exit of property, the full retail value of which exceeds $150, is a Class 2 felony. When a charge of retail theft of property or theft by emergency exit of property, the full value of which exceeds $150, is brought, the value of the property involved is an element of the offense to be resolved by the trier of fact as either exceeding or not exceeding $150. (Source: P.A. 94-449, eff. 8-4-05.)

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