What happens if you give the police a false address?

I was recently caught shoplifting. The people at the shop took down all my details and took a photo of me. They told me I was banned from their stores but I was allowed to leave once I paid for what I took. Will they contact the police? I gave false details – if they track me down will I be in serious trouble?

There’s no specific offence of shoplifting in England and Wales – offenders are usually charged with theft. Since no further action was mentioned in your case it seems probable that none will be taken. Even if the shop wanted to go to the police it would be difficult to contact you because you gave false details.

However, if the police were to get involved and it was found that you had given a false address you could find yourself facing a charge of perverting the course of justice and this carries a possible prison sentence.

Having been banned from this company’s stores, you could find yourself in more serious trouble should you be caught stealing from their premises again. Simply being in the stores would amount to trespassing and, if you shoplifted, the police could charge you with the more serious crime of burglary. Even though you’ve given false details, the company has your photo on record which they could use as a match should you get into trouble with them again.

You should also be aware that, increasingly, retail companies are using the civil courts as a means of recovering compensation. This can mean a company is able to claim several hundred pounds of damages for the theft of a few pounds worth of goods.


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