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Washington Theft Laws
Washington Theft Laws
The following definitions are applicable in this chapter unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Access device" means any card, plate, code, account number, or other means of account access that can be used alone or in conjunction with another access device to obtain money, goods, services, or anything else of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds, other than a transfer originated solely by paper instrument;
(2) "Appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services" means obtaining or exerting control over the property or services of another which the actor knows to have been lost or mislaid, or to have been delivered under a mistake as to identity of the recipient or as to the nature or amount of the property;
(3) "Beverage crate" means a plastic or metal box-like container used by a manufacturer or distributor in the transportation or distribution of individually packaged beverages to retail outlets, and affixed with language stating "property of . . . . .," "owned by . . . . .," or other markings or words identifying ownership;
(4) "By color or aid of deception" means that the deception operated to bring about the obtaining of the property or services; it is not necessary that deception be the sole means of obtaining the property or services;
(5) "Deception" occurs when an actor knowingly:
(a) Creates or confirms another's false impression which the actor knows to be false; or
(b) Fails to correct another's impression which the actor previously has created or confirmed; or
(c) Prevents another from acquiring information material to the disposition of the property involved; or
(d) Transfers or encumbers property without disclosing a lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property, whether that impediment is or is not valid, or is or is not a matter of official record; or
(e) Promises performance which the actor does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed.
(6) "Deprive" in addition to its common meaning means to make unauthorized use or an unauthorized copy of records, information, data, trade secrets, or computer programs;
(7) "Merchandise pallet" means a wood or plastic carrier designed and manufactured as an item on which products can be placed before or during transport to retail outlets, manufacturers, or contractors, and affixed with language stating "property of . . .," "owned by . . .," or other markings or words identifying ownership;
(8) "Obtain control over" in addition to its common meaning, means:
(a) In relation to property, to bring about a transfer or purported transfer to the obtainer or another of a legally recognized interest in the property; or
(b) In relation to labor or service, to secure performance thereof for the benefits of the obtainer or another;
(9) "Owner" means a person, other than the actor, who has possession of or any other interest in the property or services involved, and without whose consent the actor has no authority to exert control over the property or services;
(10) "Parking area" means a parking lot or other property provided by retailers for use by a customer for parking an automobile or other vehicle;
(11) "Receive" includes, but is not limited to, acquiring title, possession, control, or a security interest, or any other interest in the property;
(12) "Services" includes, but is not limited to, labor, professional services, transportation services, electronic computer services, the supplying of hotel accommodations, restaurant services, entertainment, the supplying of equipment for use, and the supplying of commodities of a public utility nature such as gas, electricity, steam, and water;
(13) "Shopping cart" means a basket mounted on wheels or similar container generally used in a retail establishment by a customer for the purpose of transporting goods of any kind;
(14) "Stolen" means obtained by theft, robbery, or extortion;
(15) "Subscription television service" means cable or encrypted video and related audio and data services intended for viewing on a home television by authorized members of the public only, who have agreed to pay a fee for the service. Subscription services include but are not limited to those video services presently delivered by coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, terrestrial microwave, television broadcast, and satellite transmission;
(16) "Telecommunication device" means (a) any type of instrument, device, machine, or equipment that is capable of transmitting or receiving telephonic or electronic communications; or (b) any part of such an instrument, device, machine, or equipment, or any computer circuit, computer chip, electronic mechanism, or other component, that is capable of facilitating the transmission or reception of telephonic or electronic communications;
(17) "Telecommunication service" includes any service other than subscription television service provided for a charge or compensation to facilitate the transmission, transfer, or reception of a telephonic communication or an electronic communication;
(18) Value. (a) "Value" means the market value of the property or services at the time and in the approximate area of the criminal act.
(b) Whether or not they have been issued or delivered, written instruments, except those having a readily ascertained market value, shall be evaluated as follows:
(i) The value of an instrument constituting an evidence of debt, such as a check, draft, or promissory note, shall be deemed the amount due or collectible thereon or thereby, that figure ordinarily being the face amount of the indebtedness less any portion thereof which has been satisfied;
(ii) The value of a ticket or equivalent instrument which evidences a right to receive transportation, entertainment, or other service shall be deemed the price stated thereon, if any; and if no price is stated thereon, the value shall be deemed the price of such ticket or equivalent instrument which the issuer charged the general public;
(iii) The value of any other instrument that creates, releases, discharges, or otherwise affects any valuable legal right, privilege, or obligation shall be deemed the greatest amount of economic loss which the owner of the instrument might reasonably suffer by virtue of the loss of the instrument.
(c) Except as provided in RCW 9A.56.340(4) and 9A.56.350(4), whenever any series of transactions which constitute theft, would, when considered separately, constitute theft in the third degree because of value, and said series of transactions are a part of a criminal episode or a common scheme or plan, then the transactions may be aggregated in one count and the sum of the value of all said transactions shall be the value considered in determining the degree of theft involved.
For purposes of this subsection, "criminal episode" means a series of thefts committed by the same person from one or more mercantile establishments on three or more occasions within a five-day period.
(d) Whenever any person is charged with possessing stolen property and such person has unlawfully in his possession at the same time the stolen property of more than one person, then the stolen property possessed may be aggregated in one count and the sum of the value of all said stolen property shall be the value considered in determining the degree of theft involved. Thefts committed by the same person in different counties that have been aggregated in one county may be prosecuted in any county in which one of the thefts occurred.
(e) Property or services having value that cannot be ascertained pursuant to the standards set forth above shall be deemed to be of a value not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars;
(19) "Wrongfully obtains" or "exerts unauthorized control" means:
(a) To take the property or services of another;
(b) Having any property or services in one's possession, custody or control as bailee, factor, lessee, pledgee, renter, servant, attorney, agent, employee, trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, or officer of any person, estate, association, or corporation, or as a public officer, or person authorized by agreement or competent authority to take or hold such possession, custody, or control, to secrete, withhold, or appropriate the same to his or her own use or to the use of any person other than the true owner or person entitled thereto; or
(c) Having any property or services in one's possession, custody, or control as partner, to secrete, withhold, or appropriate the same to his or her use or to the use of any person other than the true owner or person entitled thereto, where the use is unauthorized by the partnership agreement.
Theft — Definition, defense.
(1) "Theft" means:
(a) To wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
(b) By color or aid of deception to obtain control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
(c) To appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another, or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services.
(2) In any prosecution for theft, it shall be a sufficient defense that:
(a) The property or service was appropriated openly and avowedly under a claim of title made in good faith, even though the claim be untenable; or
(b) The property was merchandise pallets that were received by a pallet recycler or repairer in the ordinary course of its business.
Theft in the first degree — Other than firearm or motor vehicle.
(1) A person is guilty of theft in the first degree if he or she commits theft of:
(a) Property or services which exceed(s) one thousand five hundred dollars in value other than a firearm as defined in RCW 9.41.010;
(b) Property of any value, other than a firearm as defined in RCW 9.41.010 or a motor vehicle, taken from the person of another; or
(c) A search and rescue dog, as defined in RCW 9.91.175, while the search and rescue dog is on duty.
(2) Theft in the first degree is a class B felony.
Theft in the second degree — Other than firearm or motor vehicle.
(1) A person is guilty of theft in the second degree if he or she commits theft of:
(a) Property or services which exceed(s) two hundred fifty dollars in value but does not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars in value, other than a firearm as defined in RCW 9.41.010 or a motor vehicle; or
(b) A public record, writing, or instrument kept, filed, or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of any public office or public servant; or
(c) An access device.
(2) Theft in the second degree is a class C felony.
Theft in the third degree.
(1) A person is guilty of theft in the third degree if he or she commits theft of property or services which (a) does not exceed two hundred and fifty dollars in value, or (b) includes ten or more merchandise pallets, or ten or more beverage crates, or a combination of ten or more merchandise pallets and beverage crates.
(2) Theft in the third degree is a gross misdemeanor.
Theft of motor vehicle.
(1) A person is guilty of theft of a motor vehicle if he or she commits theft of a motor vehicle.
(2) Theft of a motor vehicle is a class B felony.
Organized retail theft.
(1) A person is guilty of organized retail theft if he or she:
(a) Commits theft of property with a value of at least two hundred fifty dollars from a mercantile establishment with an accomplice; or
(b) Possesses stolen property, as defined in RCW 9A.56.140, with a value of at least two hundred fifty dollars from a mercantile establishment with an accomplice.
(2) A person is guilty of organized retail theft in the first degree if the property stolen or possessed has a value of one thousand five hundred dollars or more. Organized retail theft in the first degree is a class B felony.
(3) A person is guilty of organized retail theft in the second degree if the property stolen or possessed has a value of at least two hundred fifty dollars, but less than one thousand five hundred dollars. Organized retail theft in the second degree is a class C felony.
(4) For purposes of this section, a series of thefts committed by the same person from one or more mercantile establishments over a period of one hundred eighty days may be aggregated in one count and the sum of the value of all the property shall be the value considered in determining the degree of the organized retail theft involved. Thefts committed by the same person in different counties that have been aggregated in one county may be prosecuted in any county in which one of the thefts occurred.
take a theft class * take a shoplifting class * take a theft class * take a petit theft class * take a theft class * a shoplifting course
Please note, the theft law information on this page is provided as a courtesy to help explain theft, shoplifting and stealing laws. There is no guarantee or assurance of reliability or validity. Laws change over time and this page may or may not be current. The code that is provided on this site is an unofficial posting of the State Codes. The files making up this Internet version of the State Codes do not constitute the official text of the State Codes and are intended for informational purposes only. No representation is made as to the accuracy or completeness of these sections. While every effort was made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the statutes available Offender Solutions™ shall not be liable or held responsible for any errors or omissions which may occur in these files, they are provided on an "As Is" basis. Use of the information and services are at the sole risk of the user. For official versions of any state's current laws, the user is directed to that states Revised Statutes, all amendments and cumulative supplements thereto published by that state. Please notify the Webmaster if you find any irregularities in the statutes on this web site. The Webmaster will relay the information to appropriate staff to investigate the irregularities. The printed version of the State Codes should be consulted for all matters requiring reliance on the statutory text. If you were involved in a theft or shoplifting incident you are encouraged to consider taking a theft cloass, theft course or shoplifting education class such as the one provided by offender solutions. Research shows theft school and/or theft education can be an effective theft prevention. Offender Solutions™ is an online theft education, shoplifting education class about stealing, it can be very effective if you want to stop stealing. Evan it was a small theft, a petty theft class or petty theft school could be right for you!
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SHOPLIFTING THEFT STEALING
Shoplifting is not a crime, it is a euphemism for the word stealing or theft, and theft is a crime. I'm not sure why our culture allowed the word "theft" to be different for someone who steals from a store, but the effect has been to minimize its seriousness in the mind of the shoplifter, our society and, interestingly, the police. It would seem logical for someone who is shoplifting to minimize the seriousness of this crime by calling it "shoplifting", but for the police to be swayed to this way of thinking is no less sacrilegious than for an American citizen to allow the euphemism, "casualty of war" to replace the word "death", minimizing the sacrifices of our Veterans.
The same point can be made of the term "petty theft". Doesn't the word "petty" conjure up notions of insignificance, unimportance and irrelevance? It almost appears the police and our society have fallen victim to a very successful propaganda campaign intending to minimize the seriousness of theft from a store by calling it "shoplifting". Actually, if you take time to think about it, whether the item is stolen from a store, your employer, or, has great or small value, it is still stealing. It is also a statement about the shoplifters character.
I don't work for a store or retailer and I do not spend my time trying to show retailers how to better protect themselves from shoplifting with cameras, mirrors, electronic tags, security personnel, etc. I spend my time helping theft offenders think through their actions, attitudes, values and beliefs. Working with most people who steal is not all that difficult. What I have discovered through theft offender counseling is that most theft offenders have relatively transparent thinking errors. For example, if you believed 2 + 3 equals 6 you would have a thinking error. Your thinking error would not readily be identified, (How often do you do math out loud or in front of someone, and, to take it even further, how many people are willing to confront you with your math error?). However, once this thinking error is identified, you would be quick to self correct.
There is also such a thing as a "cultural thinking error." One common cultural thinking error occurs when we minimize the impact of shoplifting by buying into the notion that if someone is "shoplifting", he must be a victim. Common cultural thinking errors are that theft offenders are victims of poverty, poor parenting, hunger, alcohol and drugs, ADHD, peer pressure, etc. The fact is, most people who steal from stores are none of the above and, all people who choose to steal from stores have options to stealing. Oh, kleptomania you say?
People who are shoplifting are not all that different from you and I. Simply stated, the primary differences include, 1) an overdose of selfishness, 2) a stronger than normal attraction to the forbidden, 3) thinking errors you and I don't have, and, most of all, 4) they don't self punish the thought of stealing.