A New Tool for Prosecuting Shoplifters

Kitsap County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cami Lewis had never used the charge before — but in the case of a rather prolific shoplifter, it seemed to fit well.

Be warned, it’s a mouthful: “Retail Theft with Extenuating Circumstances in the Third Degree.”

And what does that mean?

In the case of Lolette P. Gatchalian, 25, of Bremerton, it means three or more shoplifting incidents in a period of 180 days.

There are other uses for the charge — for shoplifters who leave through an emergency exit or rip of security devices on items. But in Gatchalian’s case, as written in our paper by my fellow reporter Andrew Binion, it was for chronic shoplifting offenses.

According to Binion’s report, those included:

… (A) recent theft at the Bremerton Wal-Mart (that) involved two bottles of perfume — from which Gatchalian allegedly chewed off the security tags — as well as vacuum cleaner belts and five boxes of candy.

… a shoplifting attempt from a North Kitsap Albertson’s in February, Gatchalian stuffed two pounds of bacon down her pants, court documents say.

At a Red Apple grocery store in Poulsbo January 13, she allegedly put a two-pound bag of frozen shrimp in a backpack and attempted to leave the store.

Later that same month, court documents say Gatchalian attempted to steal two packages of T-bone steaks from the Port Orchard Fred Meyer.

So where did this law come from?

Passed as House Bill 2704 in 2006, its aim was to quell chronic shoplifting, so that offenders wouldn’t just rack up misdemeanors. The statute’s penalty is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Not a single person in the legislature voted against it.

One thought on “A New Tool for Prosecuting Shoplifters

  1. Yes…throw the cuffs on this dangerous criminal … a chronic thief – we all know – as far more dangerous to others than the drunk driver!
    I’m comforted to know the person caught stealing three times at stores can go to prison five years! Whew, what a relief!

    The drunk driver, caught three times goes where?
    Back home of course, to take up driving again… a threat to all drivers… a loose bullet.

    So, folks. Based on the sentence…a pinch in the pocketbook is more serious than keeping drunk drivers off the road to avoid highway deaths caused by the drunk driver…
    Sharon O’Hara

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