Would Cardboard Cops Reduce State College Retail Theft Cases?


I recently read an article that a supermarket in England used a life-sized cardboard cutout of a police officer as a “scarecrow” of sorts to curb retail theft. According to the article, the cutout actually reduced theft incidents by 75%. Not so surprisingly, some practical jokers stole the cutout and are now posting photos of the cop on social networking sites as the officer makes guest appearances at local parties. While the officer may have reduced retail theft cases, I doubt that he is as effective in reducing the underage drinking that is probably occurring at the parties that he is attending.

Penn State Retail Thefts are Serious Charges

Everyone probably knows that retail theft is stealing items from a store without paying for them. It also includes attempts to avoid paying full price by switching price tags with lower priced items. Some people also attempt to steal an item by placing it in a bag, purse, or backpack, and those people are often stopped by  store security prior to exiting the store. While the would-be thief claims that they intended to pay for the item, there is a presumption written in the law that the concealment of an item gives rise to an inference that the person intends to steal it. Many Penn State students are charged with Retail Theft despite the fact that they never left the store with the item.

Many Penn State students are caught stealing from the McLanahan’s deli in State College. They buy the bag of chips and soda but attempt to leave without paying for the sandwich. While the student probably thinks that it isn’t a big deal as the value of the sandwich is less than $5.00, the problem is that a retail theft charge requires the person to be fingerprinted. The fingerprints mean that the summary offense of retail theft will appear on criminal background checks. While a summary offense of Underage Drinking or Disorderly Conduct may not appear on some background checks, a Retail Theft charge will appear almost all background searches.

Regretfully, many Penn State students receive the summary citation and simply plead guilty and pay the fine. In some situations, State College retail theft cases can be dismissed if an agreement is reached with the officer and accepted by the judge, and such an agreement often requires the Penn State student to complete community service and pay court costs. If the charge is dismissed, it can then be expunged or removed from the government’s records. If you are charged with a criminal offense in Centre County, get free case consultation with a State College criminal defense lawyer.