LAYTON -- Returning items to a store for a refund without a receipt is not illegal, unless the items were stolen in the first place.
Layton police booked Andrew Loren Skinner, 20, and Chaunel Roberts, 21, in the Davis County Jail on June 5.
Both appeared in 2nd District Court on Wednesday, each charged with one count of pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony, and five counts of theft by deception, class B misdemeanors.
Skinner and Roberts had been on a crime spree for about 10 days in May at several stores in Davis County, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in 2nd District Court.
The two started their string of thefts at Smith's Food & Drug Center in Layton on May 5. They put "unpurchased merchandise" in a plastic Smith's grocery bag, according to the court document.
They then went to the customer service desk and said they had purchased the items and wanted a refund. The clerk gave them a store gift card in the amount of $66.41.
The two then returned to the Smith's two more times that week, doing the same task and receiving gift cards, the document states.
"This is not a new scheme," said Layton Police Lt. Shawn Horton. "If you go to any store without a receipt, most stores now give gift cards as a refund, but if you don't buy the items, it's still retail theft."
The two didn't stop taking items and getting gift cards for them, Horton said. They also didn't just confine their activities to Smith's.
But it was at Smith's that they were caught and arrested June 5 after the pair showed up and an employee recognized them from a video from a previous visit. The video had caught them putting unpaid items into a bag.
The pair admitted to the thefts during a police interview and said they had done the same thing at Walmart, Home Depot, Target and Fresh Market, according to the court document.
They told police they used the gift cards to buy fuel, cigarettes, energy drinks and snack-type foods, according to the documents. They also told detectives they were unemployed.
Horton said the two were charged with a pattern of unlawful activity, a felony, because they had done the same crime "so many times at a number of stores."
They thought that if they got caught, they would only be charged with shoplifting, which is a misdemeanor, Horton said.
Detectives are investigating the thefts at the other stores.