MORGANTOWN — The act of shoplifting may seem like a simple crime, but for area police trying to catch those with sticky fingers stealing from local shops, the issue is more complex than most realize.

Westover Police Chief Richard Panico said there are three types of shoplifting in West Virginia.

“One is obviously concealment with intent to defraud or take,” he said. “The next is consumption. If you use something in a store without paying for it, you could be considered a shoplifter. The third is altering anything that would change the price of this item.

“What constitutes those three things? They are sort of similar. If I eat something, it’s in me. So, if I walk out of the store with an apple in me, I’ve defrauded the store of the apple. If I put something in my jacket and walk out of the store, it’s on me, and my intent was not to pay.”

Panico said the definition of shoplifting can vary between store policies.