If you're looking for a Pennsylvania online theft or shoplifting class, it's important to know your Pennsylvania theft laws. This can help you understand more about your offense.

Please note that the Pennsylvania theft laws shown on this page are to help you to understand your local Pennsylvania theft, shoplifting and stealing laws. While we have made every attempt to show the most up-to-date version of Pennsylvania theft laws, we do not guarantee its accuracy. This page is not a replacement for legal advice from a lawyer. It is in your best interest that you consult with an appropriate attorney for more information about Pennsylvania theft laws.

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Pennsylvania law defines retail theft as several specific actions taken with the intent to deprive a merchant of the full value of their merchandise. This includes:

  • Taking merchandise without paying: This covers any action involving removing merchandise from a store without paying the full retail price, including carrying it away, transferring it to another person, or having another person remove it.
  • Tampering with price tags: Changing, removing, or transferring price tags or any other markings that indicate the value of merchandise with the intent to purchase it at a lower price is considered retail theft.
  • Moving merchandise to different containers: Transferring merchandise from its original display container to a different container with the intent to avoid paying full price is also considered retail theft.
  • Under-ringing: Causing the cash register or sales recording device to show a price lower than the actual retail price with the intent to deceive the merchant is illegal.
  • Tampering with security devices: Destroying, removing, deactivating, or otherwise rendering inoperative any security device designed to prevent theft, with the intent to steal merchandise, constitutes retail theft.

Penalties for Retail Theft:

The severity of the penalty for retail theft depends on the value of the stolen merchandise and whether the individual has prior retail theft convictions.

  • First Offense: If the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $150, the offense is a summary offense.
  • Second Offense: If the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $150, the offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
  • First or Second Offense: If the value of the stolen merchandise is $150 or more, the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  • Third or Subsequent Offense: Regardless of the value of the stolen merchandise, the offense is a felony of the third degree.
  • Theft exceeding $2,000 or involving a firearm or motor vehicle: The offense is a felony of the third degree.

Additional penalties for motor fuel theft: Fines ranging from $100 to $500 may be imposed depending on the number of offenses. A third or subsequent offense may result in a 30-day driver's license suspension.

Presumptions and Evidence:

Intentionally concealing unpurchased merchandise inside or outside a store creates a presumption that the individual intended to steal it. Finding concealed unpurchased merchandise on a person serves as evidence of intentional concealment.

A conviction for retail theft can occur even if the stolen merchandise cannot be produced, as long as other competent evidence supports the offense.


Police officers, merchants, their employees, or their agents can detain individuals suspected of retail theft on or off store premises. They must have probable cause to believe the person has committed or is committing retail theft. The detention must be reasonable in both manner and duration. This allows for identification, verification, determining possession of stolen goods, recovery of merchandise, and contacting law enforcement. Detention under these circumstances does not impose civil or criminal liability.

Other Provisions:

  • Judges cannot reduce other theft charges to retail theft.
  • The law provides definitions for various terms like "conceal," "full retail value," "merchandise," "merchant," "premises of a retail mercantile establishment," "store or other retail mercantile establishment," and "under-ring."
  • Defendants aged 16 or older facing summary offense charges for retail theft must be fingerprinted to determine any prior convictions. This information is used solely for grading the offense.

You might also be interested in Pennsylvania Theft and Shoplifting Classes.

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