5 Million Reasons: California Theft Law


5 Million Reasons: California Theft Laws

A man's San Diego home was broken into last week and over 5 million dollars in money, jewelry and paintings. This amount is so exorbitant that the laws cannot even begin to punish the thieves.

In California, a theft becomes a felony if the property stolen exceeds $400.00. Under California Penal Code Section 484(a) states, "[e]very person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead or drive away the personal property of another… is guilty of theft." "In determining the value of the property obtained, for the purposes of this section, the reasonable and fair market value shall be the test."

The objects stolen from this house include original artwork by Monet, Pissarro and jewel encrusted necklaces and bracelets. It definitely sounds like more than $400.00 worth of property.

The thief can also be charged with California Penal Code Section 487, which is grand larceny, as the property stolen exceeds $950.00.

Also, since the thief or thieves had to get into the house and that means that they are guilty of burglary as well. Under California Penal Code Section 459, "[e]very person who enters any house, …with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary." As the property they had their eyes on was valued at more than $950.00 that means that they had to intent to commit grand larceny.

As impressive as the amount of this haul is, that means that the property is extremely high profile, easily identifiable and hard to resell, even on the black market.

Even if the thief or thieves found someone to buy, that buyer runs the risk of facing up to a year in prison just for accepting the stolen goods.

Section 496 of the California Penal Code states that "[e]very person who buys or receives stolen property that has been stolen…shall be punished by imprisonment in an state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one (1) year.

California also has what are known as "enhancements" which means that if the property stolen is over a certain dollar value then extra time is added onto the sentence of the perpetrator.

For $65,000, one (1) extra year is tacked on. When the property is worth more than $200,000.00 then an additional two (2) years are added. Once $1,300,000.00 is crossed then an extra three (3) years is added to the prison sentence. When the property is valued at over $3,200,000.00 then an additional four (4) years are added.

These enhancements are additional and consecutive prison sentences.

If the perpetrator(s) is/are ever caught, he/she/they could be facing some serious time, as all these charges + enhancements will add up.

So they have 5 million reasons not to get caught, but if he/she/they ever do, they should be able to hire a good attorney.


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