Updating Felony Theft Laws Can Help Illinois Save Money Without Harming Public Safety

Steal an iPhone in Texas, and you’ll be punished – that crime comes with a misdemeanor charge and a sentence of up to a year in county jail. Steal the same iPhone in Illinois, however, and you’ll face a Class 3 felony charge, punishable by up to five years in prison. Illinois stands out among most other states for its relatively low felony theft threshold. Theft of over $500 worth of goods in Illinois is a felony. Twenty-nine other states have felony theft thresholds that are twice as high or even greater – such as Texas and Wisconsin, where theft below $2,500 is generally a misdemeanor.

Cost-effective sentencing and helping property-crime victims are not mutually exclusive. States such as Texas have pursued both. Keeping laws up-to-date is critical to saving taxpayer dollars and improving the effectiveness of Illinois’ criminal-justice system. Updating the state’s theft statute is one small step to take to make Illinois smarter on crime.

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