Burglars recently carried off $35,000 worth of lawn equipment and trailers Saturday from a Benton Parish hardware store, according to news reports. The theft occurred at the Tubbs Hardware & Rental store according to the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office. Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying two men who were captured on store video cutting a lock on a gate at the store. In the video, the burglar’s heads and faces are covered and they appear to be wearing gloves. Lost in the burglary were three Exmark, and two Toro mowers, and one or possibly two trailers, local authorities said.

In Louisiana, theft charges can run from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony, based on the value of what was allegedly taken, whether force was used and whether you entered someone’s home. You could face the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket or a charge that can land you in prison for the rest of your life.

The Louisiana theft statute itself is very broad. The theft statute covers many types of criminal conduct involving the misuse of another’s property. All of these crimes, however, have one thing in common – that is, the taking of the property without the owner’s consent. Examples of crimes that are covered by the Louisiana theft statute include shoplifting, writing bad checks or hot checks, receiving stolen property, possessing stolen property and auto theft.

Theft cases can become more serious crimes with the danger of harsher sentences depending on the facts and circumstances under which the alleged theft occurred. If you are accused of entering someone’s home with the intention of committing theft, you can be charged with burglary, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Theft can also become a felony if it is alleged that you used force to take an item or money. Theft committed with a weapon is aggravated robbery, a felony that can result in a lifetime prison sentence.

If an employee steals from a business, the crime is called Employee Theft. Prosecutors tend to look at cases of employee theft more stringently because the employee was in a position of “trust” with the employer. Also, if you have been convicted of prior misdemeanor petit thefts and are arrested for another theft, the misdemeanor can be filed as a Felony Petit Theft.

Dealing in Stolen Property is when you bought or sold an item you knew or should have known was stolen. Oftentimes, the selling of stolen items is at a pawn shop. If you knew or should have known the item was stolen and you pawned it, the police can arrest you for this second-degree felony. In addition to being charged with dealing in stolen property, you can also be charged with presenting False Information to a Pawnbroker which is a third-degree felony. By signing your name and having your thumbprint taken swearing that the item belongs to you, you can be charged with both crimes.

Consult With A Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even a minor theft conviction can have a devastating impact on your future. Do not make the mistake of believing that a misdemeanor theft charge is not a serious situation. Shoplifting and the other theft charges, because they are crimes of moral imperfection, can have lifelong and far-reaching consequences. Any misdemeanor or felony conviction for a theft charge will result in a permanent criminal record, even if you receive probation. Since employers routinely conduct background checks, a theft conviction will make it much harder for you to find a good job.

If you have been charged with theft or shoplifting in the Shreveport – Bossier City, LA area, it’s important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.The Greenwald Law Firm, L.L.C., handles all criminal law matters, in all courts (state and federal) throughout Northwest Louisiana. We have successfully represented many clients in theft cases, including property crimes like burglary, theft, fraud, forgery, illegal possession of stolen things, issuing worthless checks, and damage to property. Contact Greenwald Law Firm today for a free consultation.