Retailers, legislators clash over new shoplifting law

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Quick facts:

  • A new shoplifting law will raise the felony amount of merchandise to $1,000.
  • Legislators said it will keep non-violent offenders out of jails.
  • Retailers said the change will cause larger thefts from their stores.

Retailers and legislators disagree over a law that will change how offenders are charged.

HB 2751 was approved in April and will go into effect November 1.

The bill raises the amount of merchandise that can be stolen before a theft is considered a felony.

Now, if merchandise valued at $500 is stolen, it is considered a felony. The bill will raise that amount to $1,000.

State leaders said the change will help with overcrowded jails, because many of those in Oklahoma jails are convicted of non-violent crimes.

Retailers, however, said the change will give thieves the opportunity to steal more and hurt their business.

Local business owners said they worry the change could cause them trouble.

Though the bill goes into effect in November, two state questions that could land the change in the Oklahoma Constitution are on the ballot.

If Question 780 and Question 781 are passed, the bill cannot be challenged or changed.