&  Theft Questions

Questions and Answers

  I stole.  What is going to happen to me?

   Of course I can't advice on what exactly will happen to you because you stole.  There are too many unknown variables, and besides, each judge and community deals with it a bit differently.  Some issues which need to be considered are:

  The offenders age, 
  Previous criminal behavior, 
  Adult or juvenile court, 
  Did the offender resist when being arrested? 
  What was the dollar value of the item stolen?  
  Additionally, does this person have a job? 
  Is the person pretty clean cut?
  Is the person repentant or remorseful?  
  How was the item stolen? 
  What was your attitude with the police and/or store security? 
  "Sophisticated" theft - aggressive, passive, bold, anything broken? 
  What area of the country do you live in? 
  Does the person have an attorney?  
  Can the person speak well and articulate him/herself adequately? 
  Is the person smart enough to come to Court dressed extremely well? 
  Is the person aware enough to show respect in Court? 

All the above noted as mitigating variables, generally, as an adult first time offender you can expect:

a)  A Court hearing - (if you have an attorney a plea bargain)
b) A fine of about $300, 
c)  Bench probation of one or two years, 
d) 40 hours of community service, 
e) A Civil Fine being imposed by the store stolen from ($300 +)
f)  Maybe "Theft Talk".

All the above noted as mitigating variables, generally, as a juvenile first time offender you can expect:

a)  No Court hearing,
b)  A "Diversion" option or an "informal" Juvenile Dept. resolution, 
c)  Six months of not closely monitored supervision, 
d)  40 hours of community service,
e)  Write an essay about stealing and/or an apology letter, 
d)  maybe attend "Theft Talk".

Shoplifting is a term used in our culture to describe stealing from a store.  There is no crime of "shoplifting".  Shoplifting is stealing.  From a legal perspective, there are usually different levels (or classifications) of theft.  These classifications are different in each State.  

Generally, if the theft is less than a certain dollar amount ($100 to $300 depending on the State) the crime is a misdemeanor (the kind of crime that you can go to jail - not prison - for).  Misdemeanors commonly come in three or four levels for example in Oregon there is a "Class A", "Class B" and "Class C" misdemeanor.  Class A can result in up to one year in the County Jail. Class B - 6 months and Class C - 30 days.  "Shoplifting" is usually a Class C misdemeanor.  If the dollar amount is over the Class C amount ($100 to $300) then it goes to a Class B misdemeanor.  If it is over the Class B amount it goes to the A misdemeanor level.  Some theft goes higher than the misdemeanor level to what is called a Felony.  Felony crimes are ones which can result in "Prison" time.  There are A, B and C felonies.  Felony A = 20 years to life, Felony B = 10 years and Felony C = up to 5 years. . You can explain consequences to self and heavily on how their actions affect others.  Generally, only repeat offenders and aggressive or violent offenders go to jail or prison for stealing small dollar value items.


How do you approach a youth if there are only allegations that the child has stolen, but no rock solid proof?

Say something like:

I'm here to talk to you because some people have come to me showing some concern about you. I'm not going to be a policeman and I'm not looking for guilt or to make allegations.

Then, go into a discussion which includes a statement that, if they are going to steal, you want them to make an intelligent choice. You can explain consequences to self and heavily on how their actions affect others.



Someone I know is stealing things that she doesn't even want. Why is she doing this?

It is our belief at "THEFT TALK"™ that people steal for a reason. It is important to keep in mind. If you start with a premise that people steal for no reason, then you're starting with a false premise. Contrary to what offenders will tell you, our experience is that they always have a reason for stealing their chosen item. If the item is small or appears worthless to you, remember that these items wouldn't be produced if someone didn't like them. For example, spinach. If you don't like spinach, that doesn't mean other people don't get pleasure from eating it.

How do you work with kids who are mentally behind for their age group?

To a large extent you should respond to these people much like you would any one else. We have found that many parents inadvertently send a message to their child that they expect them to not be in control. This subtle message translates to, "If you steal everyone will 'understand'". We get out of people what we expect of them. If you expect your youth to impulsively steal, because he/she has been diagnosed ADHD, you need to be careful not to set such a low standard that he or she will meet your expectations.

How do you get a person to develop empathy if you know they are lacking it?

If we had a rock solid answer to this question we would have a line of parents stretching 5 miles long. We would be like the Pied Piper. The best advise we know of is to model caring, giving, loving, compassionate behaviors. You would also do well to take the time to make positive comments about people you see in real life or on television who model these behaviors. On the flip side you can make statements about negative, hurtful and uncaring people too. Without trying to sound too old fashioned, if you think about it, manners do an excellent job of teaching us to "think of others." Teach and model manners.

E-MAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO: questions@thefttalk.org



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