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The current Irish law on “shoplifting” is to be found in Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. The side note for the Section descriptively reads “Making off without payingâ€?.

The Section provides:

8. —(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person who, knowing that payment on the spot for any goods obtained or any service done is required or expected, dishonestly makes off without having paid as required or expected and with the intention of avoiding payment on the spot is guilty of an offence.

Shoplifting is a form of theft and could also be charged as theft under Section 4 of the Act, which provides:

4. —(1) Subject to section 5 , a person is guilty of theft if he or she dishonestly appropriates property without the consent of its owner and with the intention of depriving its owner of it.

The relevant differences between Section 8 and Section 4 are that the penalty under Section 4 is considerable; a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.

The penalty under Section 8 is smaller: a fine not exceeding £3,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both.

In addition, Section 8 makes specific provision for the circumstances in which a suspected shoplifter may be arrested in a “citizen’s arrestâ€?. It provides:

An arrest other than by a member of the Garda Síochána may be effected by a person under subsection (3) only where the person, with reasonable cause, suspects that the person to be arrested by him or her would otherwise attempt to avoid, or is avoiding, arrest by a member of the Garda Síochána.