A woman in Bangor was arrested for shoplifting even though she did not take any merchandise out of the store. 27 year old Nicholle Worcester was shopping in a local store when she was approached by security. They told her that she was seen hiding items in her purse. Her reaction was to pull the merchandise out of her bag and then run out of the store.
Some people might think that this does not qualify as shoplifting because she never took the items out of the store. But according to Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards:
Even though the clothing never left the store, “once you conceal it — it's over” and theft charges can be filed, the sergeant said.
Worcester was arrested for theft and violating probation. She has previously been charged with theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, assault, and two DUI offenses. Perhaps this is why police are not letting her get away with this alleged crime.
This case is an interesting one because it will require both sides to argue about the definition of theft. According to Maine criminal code section §353, theft by unauthorized taking or transfer is defined as:
1. A person is guilty of theft if:
A. The person obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of the property. Violation of this paragraph is a Class E crime;
The prosecution can argue that, by placing the items in her purse, she was exercising “unauthorized control” of the merchandise. Her defense attorney, however, could argue that because she never left the store with it, she never had control over the merchandise. It could also be argued that she had no intention of taking the items; she was just carrying them in her bag and was embarrassed when approached by security.
There is no right or wrong answer in situations like this, if this case goes to trial, it will be up to the jury to decide what they think is right.