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Shoplifting is a major cause of revenue loss in any retail operation. However, there is another significant source of revenue loss for businesses – employee theft.


In fact, studies have shown that employee theft is even more common than shoplifting. According to surveys, a whopping 95% of employees in the US workforce admit to stealing from their employer at some time or another. Although many cases of employee theft are for relatively minor, these infractions quickly add up to a major source of revenue loss.


How much? Employee theft costs US businesses $50 billion annually.


Although many cases of employee theft go undetected, employers are likely to crack down if employee theft becomes a significant problem. This means that employees could face not only termination, but also criminal charges if caught.


It’s therefore important to understand how and why employees steal – and what you would find yourself up against if charged with employee theft. How is it defined? If you’re a retail employee and you steal from your store, is it shoplifting?


How and Why Employees in Denver Steal


Understanding employee theft requires that we take a look at what employees steal, and also their motivations for stealing.


Employees commonly steal in the following ways:


  • Cash: In retail operations, employees sometimes pocket cash when handling sales, or sneak cash out of unsecure places. Employees may also overcharge customers for purchases, and pocket the excess amount at the point of sale.
  • Merchandise: Similar to shoplifting, employees may also steal merchandise in a retail business. In some cases, they steal directly from the sales floor by hiding inventory in pockets or aprons. In others, they might take items from the warehouse before they are scanned into the store’s inventory system, making theft harder to detect.


Denver Shoplifting Attorney


  • Supplies: Who hasn’t accidentally left work with an employer’s pen in a bag or pocket? Although small, this act still constitutes theft. Employees may also steal supplies on a larger scale, stealing items such as furniture when working unsupervised overtime, or filling bags with supplies on the last day of work.
  • Payroll: Employees sometimes falsify time logs, resulting in the receipt of payment for work they did not do. Employees may also “expense” personal costs, falsely claiming that these are business expenditures.


There are a variety of reasons that employees steal from their employers. One of the most common is perceived inequitable treatment. Employees may feel that they are not receiving adequate compensation for their work, or are otherwise treated unfairly by their employer, and decide to “take matters into their own hands” by theft.


Colorado Theft and Shoplifting Laws


In Colorado, shoplifting is charged as theft, meaning that you’ll face the same charges and penalties for most cases of employee theft and shoplifting alike.


As in most states, shoplifting and theft are charged and punished based on the items that were allegedly stolen:


  • <$500: Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 3 months-1 year in jail and/or $250-$1,000 in fines.
  • $500-$1,000: Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 6-18 months in jail and/or $500-$5,000 in fines.
  • $1,000-$20,000: Class 4 felony punishable by 2-6 years in jail and/or $2,000-$500,000 in fines.
  • >$20,000: Class 3 felony punishable by 4-12 years in jail and/or $3,000-$750,000 in fines.


Colorado Theft and Shoplifting Laws


Facing Shoplifting or Theft Charges?


If you are facing charges for shoplifting or theft, it is important to take these charges seriously. For serious charges such as this, you need a serious criminal defense attorney. Retain the best available criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected and maximize your chance of a favorable outcome.


About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.

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