Think It’s Just Shoplifting? Think Again: Organized Retail Theft

Looking to score a cheap Christmas gift or earn some quick money and think that a simple video game theft is no big deal? Think again!! What you thought was no big deal could end up being a Class Four felony with the possibility of prison.

Organized Retail Theft (ORT) is defined under Arizona law to be either 1) the removal of merchandise from a retail establishment without paying for the items and with the intent to resell those items, or 2) using an artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to facilitate the removal of merchandise from a retail establishment without paying the purchase price.

A simple act of hiding your favorite video game in a backpack or purse and walking out of the store without paying for that video game can be charged as ORT under Arizona law. Additionally, you can be charged with ORT by taking the video game out of the store in your bare hands, then re-selling the video game back for cash or store credit. Someone charged with ORT can be punished with up to four years of probation or be incarcerated in prison for 1 to 3.75 years.

A recent case from Maricopa County illustrates the seriousness of ORT. In State of Arizona v. Jason McCleve, CR 2016-129947-001, the Defendant, Jason McCleve, was charged with many crimes, including 45 counts of ORT. McCleve went into various Target stores across the East Valley and took several video games from the store each time. He would hide them in his waist band and walk out of the store. Those same video games were then pawned at local pawn shops.

The Defendant pled guilty to five different counts of ORT with the agreement that he serve a prison term of 1 to 3.75 years. Additionally, the Defendant also pled guilty to Trafficking in Stolen Property with the condition that he be placed on supervised probation upon his release from prison. The Defendant was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison with four years of supervised probation upon his release. The Defendant was also ordered to pay $9,432.29 in restitution to Target for the loss of the video games.