Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item

Shoplifting is a prevalent crime in New York State and the United States. It is estimated that over 10 million people have been arrested for shop lifting in the United States in the past 5 years. New York State has a criminal charge called Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 170.47 and it prohibits possession of any item for the purpose of overcoming detection or removing security tags on items in stores.

This particular crime is frequently charged with the following New York Shoplifting charges:

  • Petit Larceny (unlawful taking of someone else’s property);
  • Grand Larceny (unlawful taking of someone else’s property valued at over $1,000)
  • Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree (unlawful possession of someone else’s property, regardless of value);
  • Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree (unlawful possession of someone else’s property, valued over $1,000).

The elements and penalties of New York Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Device are explained below.

Elements of Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item

Under New York Penal Law Section 170.47, in order to convict someone of the crime of Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item, the prosecutor must prove these elements to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Intent to steal property at a retail mercantile establishment, AND
  2. Knowing possession of an item designed for the purpose of overcoming detection of security markings or attachments placed on property offered for sale, AND
  3. Possession of such item inside the retain mercantile establishment.

What is a Retail Mercantile Establishment?

The definition of what constitutes a retail mercantile establishment comes from Section 217 of Article 12-B of the General Business Law. “Retail mercantile establishment” means a place where goods, wares or merchandise are offered to the public for sale.

Which Items Are Anti-Security Devices?

There is no legal definition in Article 170 of the New York Penal Law about what constitutes an “Anti-Security Device.” Therefore, any item can be an anti-security device, so long as it is designed for the purpose of overcoming detection of security markings or removal of security tags. Common items that are used as anti-security devices are:

  • Aluminum foil or aluminum foil bags to block the sensors called “booster bags”;
  • Neodymium magnets to remove magnetic tags;
  • S3 handkey;
  • Rubber bands;
  • Pliers;
  • Scissors.

Importantly, if you accidentally walk into the store with any of these household items, you cannot be charged with possession of anti-security device based on that fact alone. You must have intent to steal property from the store. Possession alone is not enough to charge you. There must be other evidence or circumstances that would show that your intent in possessing these household items was to steal the store merchandise.

Penalties and Sentencing for Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item

New York Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item is a Class “B” Misdemeanor. As such, this particular charge is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and can result in a permanent criminal record. The following are also permissible sentences for this charge:

  • Time Served (however minimal)
  • Conditional Discharge (with conditions imposed by the court – such as no new arrests)
  • Unconditional Discharge (no conditions imposed by the court as part of the sentence)
  • Probation

Statute of Limitations for New York Shoplifting Charges

In New York, the length of the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the charge. Misdemeanors have a 2-year statute of limitations, while felonies have a 5-year statute of limitations (with the the exception of homicide, arson or sec offense charges). These are the statutes of limitation for common New York shoplifting charges:

ChargeSeverityStatute of Limitations
Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security ItemClass “B” Misdemeanor2 years
Petit LarcenyClass “A” Misdemeanor2 years
Grand Larceny in the Fourth DegreeClass “E” Felony5 years
Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth DegreeClass “A” Misdemeanor2 years
Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth DegreeClass “E” Felony5 years
New York Property Crimes Statute of Limitations

Contact Top Rated New York Shoplifting Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with Criminal Possession of an Anti-Security Item or any other related New York Shoplifting charges, you need experienced criminal defense counsel. There may be ways to resolve your case without a permanent criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.