Thank you for your question.
Yes they can, though if you weren't stopped in the store, arrested or given a citation, then it's very unlikely that you would be charged later on.
The reason you can be still charged, however, is because of how "theft
" is legally defined.
In West Virginia statutes on criminal
law, theft is referred to as “larceny
,” a term used interchangeably with “theft” in many states. In general, larceny is committed when an offender unlawfully takes property that belongs to someone else, and the act is done with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of his or her property.
When the item is placed into a purse, the intent is to conceal it without paying for it. To put it another way, the act is done with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of their property. Putting the item back doesn't undo this, because the intent existed at the time the act was committed.