According to a State College newspaper, some Christmas day shoppers at the Benner Pike Wal-Mart in Centre County appear to have forgotten that the Christmas season is the time for giving and not taking after they were charged with Retail Theft and Receiving Stolen Property. Maybe they thought that the "giving" portion of the season meant that the store was supposed to give the merchandise them by allowing them to take the items without paying for them. Regrettably, taking items without paying is theft.
A charge of theft in Pennsylvania is a serious charge because a conviction will result in the imposition of a sentence that will include payment of fines, court costs, possibly restitution, and a sentence of probation or jail time may also be imposed by the judge. The actual severity of a Pennsylvania retail theft offense is generally based upon the value of the item taken. Even a summary offense of retail theft can result in a fine of up to $300.00 and jail time of up to 90 days.
Pennsylvania Retail Theft Charges Appear on Criminal Background Searches
A retail theft conviction will also appear on a person's criminal record, so background searches conducted by future employers or graduate schools will discover the prior conviction. Many Penn State students are charged with Retail Theft for taking sandwiches or other small items from McClanahan's store and other stores in downtown State College, and the students assume that the charge is not a big deal because they only received a summary citation. The problem is that the police are required to have the theft suspect processed, which means that the person must submit to fingerprints and a mugshot. When a person is processed, the charges are forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI, which means that the charge will appear on practically all criminal background searches.
A theft offense also is viewed much more negatively by employers in comparison to other offenses such as Underage Drinking, Disorderly Conduct, or even Driving Under the Influence. A theft offense is considered a crimen falsi offense, meaning a crime involving dishonesty, so employers often fear that a deceptive person would not make for a good employee.