Two Women Face Charges of Grand Theft in S.F. Stonestown Galleria (CA Penal Code 484 and 459.5)

Two young women were  the alleged culprits in a 24-pair sunglass shoplifting spree that lasted only about 1 minute.  The women simply grabbed approximately $7,000 worth of store property before running off with the loot.  They were caught by store surveillance cameras and local law enforcement officials hope to identify the women soon.  If caught, they face charges of grand theft.

Although we have termed these women’s crime ‘shoplifting,’ under California law, it is actually considered ‘theft.’  According to California Penal Code 484 and 459.5, their violation of the law cannot be considered either ‘petty theft’ or ‘shoplifting.’  In order for those laws to apply, the value of the merchandise or property taken must be under $950.  When the property or merchandise in question is valued at more than $950, CA PC 487 (‘grand theft’) more appropriately applies.  Even ‘shoplifting’ sunglasses valued at over $950 could be considered grand theft.

Usually, grand theft is a California ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it is up to prosecutors assigned to the case to determine whether they will treat the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  In other words, these women could face the same penalties as someone who embezzled thousands of dollars from a company or someone who broke into another person’s home to steal over $950 worth of property.  If convicted on misdemeanor grand theft charges, these ladies could find themselves facing up to 1 year in county jail; if prosecutors decide to treat it as a felony, they could spend up to 3 years each in state prison.