South Carolina Shoplifting Law Excerpts

Title 16 — Crimes and Offenses

SECTION 16-13-105. Definitions as to shoplifting and similar offenses.

When used in Sections 16-13-110, 16-13-120 and 16-13-140 the terms listed below shall have the following meanings:

(1) “Conceal” means to hide merchandise on the person or among the belongings of a person so that, although there may be some notice of its presence, it is not visible through ordinary observation.

(2) “Full retail value” means the merchant’s stated or advertised price of merchandise.

(3) “Merchandise” means any goods, chattels, foodstuffs or wares of any type and description, regardless of value.

(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 the owner or operator.

(5) “Store or other retail mercantile establishment” means a place where merchandise is displayed, held, stored or sold or offered to the public for sale.

SECTION 16-13-110. Shoplifting.

(A) A person is guilty of shoplifting if he:

(1) takes possession of, carries away, transfers from one person to another or from one area of a store or other retail mercantile establishment to another area, or causes to be carried away or transferred any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use, or benefit of the merchandise without paying the full retail value;

(2) 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 store or other retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase the 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 the merchandise;

(3) transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment from the container in which it is displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of the full retail value.

(B) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a:

(1) misdemeanor triable in magistrate’s court and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days if the value of the shoplifted merchandise is one thousand dollars or less;

(2) felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, if the value of the shoplifted merchandise is more than one thousand dollars but less than five thousand dollars;

(3) felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than ten years if the value of the shoplifted merchandise is five thousand dollars or more.

SECTION 16-13-111. Reports of shoplifting convictions.

A first offense shoplifting prosecution or second offense resulting in a conviction shall be reported by the magistrate or city recorder hearing the case to the Communications and Records Division of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division which shall keep a record of such conviction so that any law enforcement agency can inquire into whether or not a defendant has a prior record.

SECTION 16-13-120. Shoplifting; presumptions from concealment of unpurchased goods.

It is permissible to infer that any person wilfully concealing unpurchased goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment either on the premises or outside the premises of the store has concealed the article with the intention of converting it to his own use without paying the purchase price thereof within the meaning of Section 16-13-110. It is also permissible to infer that the finding of the unpurchased goods or merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of the person is evidence of wilful concealment. If the person conceals or causes to be concealed the unpurchased goods or merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, it is also permissible to infer that the person so concealing such goods wilfully concealed them with the intention of converting them to his own use without paying the purchase price thereof within the meaning of Section 16-13-110.

SECTION 16-13-130. Sections 16-13-110 and 16-13-120 are cumulative.

The offense created by Section 16-13-110 and the inferences provided in Section 16-13-120 are not exclusive and are in addition to previously existing offenses and those rights and presumptions as were heretofore provided by law.

SECTION 16-13-140. Defense to action for delay to investigate ownership of merchandise.

In any action brought by reason of having been delayed by a merchant or merchant’s employee or agent on or near the premises of a mercantile establishment for the purpose of investigation concerning the ownership of any merchandise, it shall be a defense to such action if: (1) The person was delayed in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable time to permit such investigation, and (2) reasonable cause existed to believe that the person delayed had committed the crime of shoplifting.

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