Could your love of trendy houseplants lead to theft charges?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

House plants come in all shapes and sizes. The most popular and unique house plants are not only in high demand at the store but also often come at a high price. People who want certain plants but can’t afford them may get creative when out shopping. 

Online groups discussing how to care for and propagate plants will sometimes recommend that people pinch off a few leaves or a small section of vine instead of buying a plant. While it may seem harmless, it damages the plant the retailer wants to sell and could lead to criminal charges

Retailers are well aware of this new shoplifting trend

“Proplifting” or the practice of taking plant genetics from a shop without paying for a plant hurts retailers. It deprives them of a potential sale. It also damages the merchandise they have in stock, making it less likely to sell. 

Although you might not face a challenge over picking up a single succulent leaf off the ground, if staff members spot you pocketing pieces of multiple different plants, they might stop you. In cases where you repeatedly do this at the same store, they might bar you from the premises or attempt to prosecute you. You could face misdemeanor larceny charges because you want to propagate a plant. 

Retail fraud comes in many forms

You may not intend to damage the merchandise at the store or deprive the retailer of the plant’s value. After all, you may think that no one would miss a single leaf. However, there is no guarantee that staff members won’t target you for enforcement if you frequently walk out of the store with pieces of unpurchased plants in your possession. 

Recognizing when creative cost-cutting crosses the line into retail fraud can help you avoid mistakes that lead to criminal charges.