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Jewelry Store Heist Shows Where the Line Is Between Shoplifting and Burglary

A burglar staring into the camera, representing how one can benefit from calling a Maine criminal defense lawyer.

Over $100,000 in merchandise was taken from a jewelry store in Farmingdale back in early August. The incident highlights the difference between shoplifting and some more severe criminal charges like burglary.

Maine Jewelry Store Broken Into

According to the police and store owners, Kennebec Jewelry was broken into during the overnight hours of August 2, 2019.

Several jewelry cases were broken during the incident, and store owners claim that more than $100,000 in jewelry was taken during the heist.

Police are now asking the public for leads as they treat the case as a burglary.

The Distinct Line Between Shoplifting and Burglary

Even though shoplifting is the criminal offense of intentionally taking merchandise from a store without paying for it, police are treating the incident as a burglary because there is an additional element to the case: Breaking and entering into a building that was closed to the public at the time of the offense.

Shoplifting is one of the many criminal offenses that is covered by a single statute in Maine – 17-A Maine Statute § 351. This statute consolidates a handful of different theft offenses under the realm of a common element that they all have: Intentionally taking property, without the permission of the owner, with the intent of permanently keeping it. The statute treats all of the following offenses as “theft”:

However, 17-A Maine Statute § 351 does not include a course of conduct that makes criminal offenses more severe – breaking into a building in order to commit them. When this happens, the offense is no longer just a theft. It becomes a burglary.

Burglary in Maine is outlined by 17-A Maine Statute § 401. Under this statute, a burglary happens whenever someone “enters or surreptitiously remains in a structure knowing that that person is not licensed or privileged to do so, with the intent to commit a crime.”

The “entering or surreptitiously remaining” is the line between the relatively minor offense of shoplifting and the more severe offense of burglary. It is also why the police, in this case, are investigating the theft of merchandise from the jewelry store as a burglary, and not as a lesser form of theft like shoplifting: Because the incident happened after hours while the store was closed, the law treats it as a more culpable type of crime that comes with higher penalties.

Shoplifting and Criminal Defense at Maine Criminal Defense Group in Portland

The criminal defense lawyers at Maine Criminal Defense Group in Portland, Maine, provide legal representation for people who have been accused of property crimes like shoplifting, theft, or burglary. Even the least severe of these offenses can alter the course of your life and force you to move forward with a serious criminal conviction on your background.

Defending against these allegations is crucial, and the lawyers at Maine Criminal Defense Group can help. Contact them online or call them at (207) 571-8146 if you have been charged with a crime in Saco, Biddeford, or elsewhere in southern Maine.


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