Theft in Texas ranges from shoplifting to armed robbery. Few people know about the theft of tampering with serial numbers, which is a crime in that state. It’s a crime involving the removal or alteration of a product serial number to prevent the tracking of a stolen item.
The purpose of serial numbers
Serial numbers are long numbers that are assigned next to barcodes. The numbers are used to identify specific products for purchase or rental. The numbers are recorded in a system and used to track down products that have been stolen or counterfeited. Nearly every item that is sold contains a serial number.
Barcode technology and software are used to track products to any location. Most retailers use barcodes and numbers to track their inventory and prevent monetary losses. Tracking theft is similar to recording and tracking fingerprints to identify criminals.
The types of offenses
The crime of tampering with these numbers includes removing or altering the labels that contain the numbers from the products. Additional crimes include possessing, selling or buying products, knowing that the numbers have been removed, altered or obliterated. The courts define an alternation as making the number unreadable instead of just defaced. The law does not apply to a number that remains legible.
A serial number is a unique identifier for every product that is sold or purchased. Tampering with serial numbers is a misdemeanor in Texas. Any person who intentionally removes, alters or obliterates this number is guilty. This includes anyone who possesses, sells or buys a product with a number that he or she knows has been tampered with.