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North Carolina Shoplifting Laws

Sometimes retail therapy is a great way to relieve stress and to have some fun. However, if you choose to indulge in retail therapy without actually purchasing the goods, then you can ultimately pay the price when you are charged with shoplifting.

As a form of theft, shoplifting is criminalized under a state's theft or larceny laws. North Carolina uses the term larceny and categorizes those crimes according to the value of the property taken; the determining value amount is $1,000. For example, if a person takes a $500 purse from a department store, then the crime is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor because the value is less than $1,000. If a person takes a pair of $1,200 shoes, however, the charge is a Class H felony because the shoes cost more than $1,000.

North Carolina Shoplifting Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to North Carolina's shoplifting laws, including links to important code sections.


  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-72(a) (Larceny of property)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-72.1 (Concealment of merchandise)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-8.6 (Organized retail theft)


Because North Carolina uses a complex sentencing formula, the actual penalties depend on specific circumstances such as criminal history.

Larceny of Property (Misdemeanor):

  • If the property involved exceeds $1,000, then the offense is classified as a Class H felony, punishable by 4-8 months incarceration.
  • If the property is valued at $1,000 or less, then the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by 1-45 days incarceration.

Concealment of merchandise: any individual who willfully conceals the non-purchased merchandise of any store, while still on the premises.


  • First conviction: Class 3 misdemeanor; in lieu of imprisonment, 24 hours of community service may be performed.
  • Second conviction: Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by probation, community service, or both.
  • Third conviction: Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by at least 11 days incarceration or other sentence determined by the judge.

Organized Retail Theft: any person that commits the following:

  • Conspires with another to commit theft of property from retail establishments with a value exceeding $1,500 aggregated over a 90-day period;
  • With the intent to sell the property for profit; and
  • Who takes/causes that retail property to be placed in the control of retail property fence or other person in exchange for consideration; or
  • Receives or possesses any retail property that has been taken or stolen in violation of subdivision or having reasonable grounds to believe that property is stolen.

Any interest that has been acquired is subject to forfeiture.

Possible Defenses

  • Lack of intent
  • Mistake of fact

Related Offense

  • Removal of shopping cart from shopping premises: North Carolina General Statutes 14-72.3

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Shoplifting Laws: Related Resources

Charged with Shoplifting? Contact a Defense Attorney

Shoplifting appears to be a benign crime, but a shoplifting conviction can negatively affect your life. Even if you're not facing felony charges, you're still at risk of losing your good name and reputation. You can try to minimize the damage by contacting a North Carolina attorney who knows how to mount a solid defense.

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