Shoplifting Laws in the UK: Know it All Here

Shubhika Garg

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Shoplifting Laws in the UK

Every country has its own set of rules and regulations and so does the UK on shoplifting. But, what does shoplifting mean? Well, it refers to stealing goods and merchandise from a retail shop without paying for it. The police recorded an overall 6.7 million shoplifting crimes in England and Wales in 2023. The UK Police Minister also stated ‘zero tolerance’ for shoplifting offences and implemented stringent shoplifting laws in the UK. Any shoplifter caught shoplifting is charged with theft under Section 1 of the Theft Act, 1986. 

As international students, you must be aware of these laws and the penalty for shoplifting in the UK. In this blog, we will talk about the legal implications associated with shoplifting in the UK. 

What is Shoplifting?


Shoplifting means stealing goods from the shop without paying for them. It is persecuted under theft laws and is a criminal offence. It can include various forms like altering the price tag, concealing items, or getting away with the goods without making payments.

In your stays at student accommodation in United Kingdom, you might have heard about shoplifting incidents in nearby shops. Shoplifting incidents are enticing for a few, however, it is not easy to get away from doing so. Security cameras are installed in public spaces and these shops to deter any kinds of criminal activities and provide evidence for legal proceedings. You can learn all about the UK security camera law here.

Also Read: If you are a student living in the UK, then our blog on Trespassing laws in the UK will help you understand the nuances of the country’s trespassing laws. 

Why Do People Shoplift?

As teenagers, it is easy to fall into shoplifting in the excitement of exploring new limits, including shopping scenes. Multiple reasons and ill intentions can lead to shoplifting habits and some of them are discussed below-

  • One might get in the act of shoplifting due to a lack of money to possess things that they can’t afford. Such items tempt shoplifters and they get away with those goods without paying for them.
  • Some shoplifters steal expensive merchandise from retail stores to sell at prices that enable them to make money out of it.
  • It is also reported that one of the reasons for shoplifting was to raise money to fund a drug habit.
  • Kleptomania, a mental state that leads to an uncontrollable desire to take away things also leads to shoplifting.

Also Read: Understanding and adhering to laws, rules, and regulations in the UK is a must. Check our blog on things that can land you in jail in the UK

Shoplifting Laws in the UK

Considering the rising number of shoplifting cases, the UK government introduced shoplifting laws to tackle shoplifters. Any shoplifter caught in the act is charged with theft under Section 1 of the Theft Act, 1986. 

If the cost of goods stolen is less than GBP 200, the person is charged for low-shoplifting value under section 176 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. The penalty for shoplifting in the UK in such a scenario is to pay a fine of GBP 70 without the thief having to turn at the magistrate. The maximum sentence is six months. 

If the cost of goods stolen is more than GBP 200, the penalty for shoplifting can lead to a sentence of up to seven years. 

Remember: Teenagers from 15 years to 18 years and above as well are exposed to potential threats of shoplifting. Being convicted of shoplifting in the UK would mean having a criminal record in your name This can affect your academic and professional career. 

So, always think twice before giving in to the potential temptations of shoplifting in the UK. The laws in the country have serious consequences from fines to imprisonment in many cases. Even if students aren’t penalised by the legal system harshly, shop owners can charge heavy fines for shoplifting and you still might have to face financial repercussions. 

FAQs on Shoplifting laws in the UK

Can you go to jail for shoplifting in the UK?

Yes, people who shoplift can go to jail. The maximum sentence is six months if reported to the police. Shoplifting the higher value of goods can also take you the Court and sentence for up to seven years. 

What is the punishment for shoplifting in the UK?

Shoplifting in the UK is a serious crime and the punishment for doing so can take the person to jail or even to court with a sentence of up to 6 months up to 7 seven years based on the amount of goods shoplifted. 

Is shoplifting a problem in the UK?

Shoplifting cases in the UK have increased immensely. The police recorded an overall 6.7 million shoplifting crimes in England and Wales in 2023. 

Why do people shoplift in the UK?

People may shoplift for several reasons like lack of money to afford goods that might tempt shoplifters and steal them. Besides, the intention of making money by selling stolen items or raising money to fund drug habits are other reasons for shoplifting. 

How do I deal with shoplifting in the UK?

If you come across shoplifting cases as an owner of the store or a customer who witnesses them concealing items, identify if it is safe to engage with the potential shoplifter. Ask them if they help with a bag or a basket. You may secretly call the police and let them know the details if you feel the situation cannot be controlled at a personal level. 

This was all about shoplifting laws UK. It is a serious offence and one must not indulge in such activities. This not only adds a criminal record to your name but also affects the business and economy. Retailers lose a huge sum of money and this can lead to an increase in prices to cover the shoplifting costs. As a student too, one must not fall trapped in such activities in excitement to try new ventures. 

This was all about the best things to do in North Carolina. Hope you liked the blog. For booking the best accommodation abroad to start your study abroad experience you can contact Fly Homes at 1800572118.

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