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Unauthorised Dealing With Shop Goods

The offence of unauthorised dealing with shop goods is the lesser offence to stealing. It can only be charged in certain circumstances and is punishable by fine only. Police have the option of proceeding with an infringement notice, rather than requiring a court appearance. In most cases, a criminal conviction is not recorded with strong legal representation.

The Offence of Unauthorised Dealing with Shop Goods:

Section 5 of the Regulated Offences Act 1985 provides:

Any person who, with respect to goods in a shop of a value of $150 or less—

  • consumes them without the consent, express or implied, of the person in lawful possession of them; or
  • deliberately alters, removes, defaces or otherwise renders indistinguishable a price shown on them, without the consent, express or implied, of the person in lawful possession of them; or
  • whether or not the property in the goods has passed to the person, takes them away without discharging, or attempting honestly, or making proper arrangements, to discharge his or her lawful indebtedness therefor;

is guilty of a regulatory offence and, subject to section 9, is liable to a fine of 6 penalty units.

Section 9 gives the court a power to order the offender to pay a further fine to cover the cost of bringing the charge to the court as well as the cost of compensating any person injured as a result of the offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Unauthorised Dealing with Shop Goods?

  • Making yourself a coffee in a 7 Eleven store and leaving without making payment.
  • Altering the price tag on a child’s toy in the Reject Shop to display a lower price and only paying the lower price at the checkout.
  • Taking a can of Coke out of the fridge in a petrol station and drinking the contents of the can before leaving without making payment.

What the Police Must Prove:

The police must prove four things in order for you to be convicted:

  • That you were the person that dealt with the shop goods;
  • The value of the shop goods were $150 or less;
  • You dealt with the shop goods dishonestly;
  • You were not the owner of the shop goods.

Possible Defences for Unauthorised Dealing With Shop Goods:

  • Identity – it wasn’t you who dealt with the shop goods;
  • You were not acting dishonestly;
  • Duress – you were forced to steal the property.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

As this is a fine only offence, if you receive a notice to appear, the matter is heard and determined in the Magistrates Court.

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