Virginia

Virginia is for felonies? Petty theft law from 1980s sticks

  • Store owner Lori Janke works in her store in Newport News, Va., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Janke opposes the proposed raising of the felony theft threshold that passed the Senate but was killed by the House this last legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    Store owner Lori Janke works in her store in Newport News, Va., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Janke opposes the proposed raising of the felony theft threshold that passed the Senate but was killed by the House this last legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)  (The Associated Press)

  • Store owner Lori Janke works in her store in Newport News, Va., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Janke opposes the proposed raising of the felony theft threshold that passed the Senate but was killed by the House this last legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    Store owner Lori Janke works in her store in Newport News, Va., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Janke opposes the proposed raising of the felony theft threshold that passed the Senate but was killed by the House this last legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)  (The Associated Press)

  • Store owner Lori Janke works in her store in Newport News, Va., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Janke opposes the proposed raising of the felony theft threshold that passed the Senate but was killed by the House this last legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    Store owner Lori Janke works in her store in Newport News, Va., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Janke opposes the proposed raising of the felony theft threshold that passed the Senate but was killed by the House this last legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)  (The Associated Press)

Stealing a $230 pair of eyeglasses would land you a misdemeanor conviction in most states. Shoplifting the same item in Virginia could make you a felon for life.

At least 30 states have raised the dollar minimum for felony charges in the last two decades in order to keep pace with inflation. Not Virginia, which hasn't raised its felony bar from $200 since 1980.

A bill to make anything less than $500 a misdemeanor sailed through the Republican-controlled Senate this year, but was stymied in a GOP-led House committee.

Critics say Virginia's policy is overly harsh without doing anything to prevent crime.

Virginia retailers say shoplifters are often part of organized retail crime rings and are well aware of the state's larceny threshold. They say the policy deters theft.