Skip to main content

Exit WCAG Theme

Switch to Non-ADA Website

Accessibility Options

Select Text Sizes

Select Text Color

Website Accessibility Information Close Options
Close Menu
Phillip J. Murphy Attorney at Law New City Criminal Defense Attorney
  • ~
  • Calls answered and returned 24/7

Penalties For Organized Theft In Bergen County


One of the newest concepts in New Jersey criminal law is something called “organized theft.” Numerous states have introduced new legislation and new penalties for these crimes, but many defendants may have no idea what it all means. What exactly is organized theft – and when might you face penalties for these alleged crimes? What are these penalties, and how can you defend yourself against charges?

The Definition of Organized Theft in New Jersey 

Organized theft is essentially a more serious version of shoplifting. While normal shoplifting typically involves a single individual operating in a somewhat opportunistic manner, organized theft involves groups of people who plan to target specific retail establishments. An average shoplifter might take a bar of chocolate while browsing items at a gas station, but an “organized theft ring” typically involves numerous people taking quantities of high-value goods.

The term “smash and grab” has gained particularly high levels of traction in the media within the past few years. This phrase describes a strategy involving dozens of people rushing into a retail establishment, smashing display cases, and taking high-value items – such as electronics or cosmetics. Because there are so many individuals “rushing” the store simultaneously, store managers and security staff are completely overwhelmed. Even if police arrive within a few minutes, they may only have the ability to arrest one or two of these shoplifters.

What Are the Penalties for Organized Theft in New Jersey? 

Charges related to organized theft are more serious than shoplifting charges. If you are charged with shoplifting alone with no level of “organization,” you face a third degree felony shoplifting offense for items worth over $1,000. If you steal the same amount of goods alongside others in an organized shoplifting ring, however, you face a second degree felony instead. In other words, organized theft can lead to up to ten years in prison, while shoplifting may only lead to five years.

However, the worst penalties are reserved for leaders of shoplifting rings. If you were “calling the shots,” so to speak, you face not only a crime of the second degree, but also a fine of up to five times the value of all stolen goods – up to a maximum of $250,000.

The definition of a “leader” is slightly subjective in this context. Generally speaking, you “lead” an organized theft ring if you organize, supervise, or finance other shoplifters. For example, you might send a group text directing others to target specific stores. You might also “lead the charge” into the store before ordering everyone to escape at a predetermined time. Finally, you might finance the entire operation. For example, you may have paid shoplifters ahead of time to engage in the acts while paying them a commission of all stolen goods.

Find a Qualified, Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Bergen County 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced New City theft attorney, look no further than Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants – including those accused of theft-related offenses. Organized theft is a relatively new crime in New Jersey, but it can lead to serious consequences. To gain a more concrete understanding of this law, book a consultation today. We’ll help you get started with an effective defense strategy.


By submitting this form I acknowledge that form submissions via this website do not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information I send is not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Skip footer and go back to main navigation