Articles Posted in Theft

In the State of Florida, criminal code Section 812.014 governs the laws pertaining to the crime of theft.  Theft is classified as either petit theft or grand theft, depending on the value of the property that was allegedly stolen.  It is then broken down in specific degrees of petit theft or grand theft based on the value of the property.

Broward Defense Lawyer For example, if you are accused of stealing any property that is valued at more than $300, it will be considered grand theft according to the law. However, this does not mean you will actually be charged with grand theft, as the prosecutors typically have discretion to charge even a grand theft a lesser included offense of petit theft. Continue reading

It wasn’t a good couple of days for Francis Keller. The 56-year-old was arrested for allegedly breaking into the U.S. Post Office where he worked for 30 years, and rifling through packages with plans to sell valuables he discovered in exchange for crack cocaine. A Boynton Beach police report indicated Keller had used an old security code to gain access to the building, on Seacrest Boulevard. He was reportedly intoxicated at the time. postoffice

He was booked into jail around 2:30 a.m. and was released about 12 hours later. By then, local news outlets had heard of the alleged offense and were working on stories detailing the work of the “Postal Grinch” for trying to steal packages containing gifts.

But Keller allegedly wasn’t finished. By the looks of a consecutive mug shot, he did have an opportunity to change clothes again. When he headed back out that night, he allegedly approached an employee at a drive-in to ask about a job. However, instead of continuing the conversation in that vein, he is accused of pulling a firearm from his waistband and demanding money. He then allegedly ran into the car parking lot, pointed a gun at the head of the driver and ordered him out of the vehicle.  Continue reading

Last year, a Pompano Beach man was convicted of a slew of burglary and robbery charges. He faced up to 60 years in prison. The judge deferred his sentence in lieu of probation. But then, he was stopped for driving without a license. He was hauled back into court and sentenced to the full 60 years in prison. Following widespread backlash, the Broward Circuit judge had a change of heart. Community leaders at a hearing promised to work with the 24-year-old defendant, Herbert Smith. They were going to help him find a job and keep him out of trouble. The judge agreed once again to suspend the 60-year prison term. The caveat was that any violation of that probation – no matter how minor – could result in that 60-year sentence being reinstated. police

Then just before Thanksgiving of this year, Smith was arrested, accused of a burglary that took place in September. He was identified as one of two men who broke into a home in Parkland and heisted $30,000 worth of jewelry. It didn’t look good for the defendant, especially because probation violations don’t have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, Smith got another break when prosecutors recently decided not to pursue the burglary charge or the probation violation. They dismissed both, finding there was not enough evidence to move forward.  Continue reading

There have been a number of recent high-profile cases of theft of motor vehicles in South Florida in recent weeks, with defendants in each case facing serious penalties.

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Still, it’s important to note that grand theft auto and carjacking, while both major crimes, are inherently different, which means the approach of prosecutors and defense attorneys will be different as well.

Grand theft auto, as codified in F.S. 812.014, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum five of $5,000. It’s on par with theft of a firearm or commercially-farmed animal or a controlled substance. The offense may be bumped up to a second-degree felony if the vehicle involved costs more than $20,000 (but less than $100,000), in which case the penalty is increased to a possible 15 years maximum in prison. Carjacking, meanwhile, is codified in F.S. 812.133is a life felony if a firearm is used; Otherwise, it’s considered a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Carjacking is the act of taking a motor vehicle either by force, violence, assault or putting in fear.  Continue reading

It’s touted as a smart way to identify alleged thieves, drive down property crimes and return stolen possessions. It’s a spray called SmartWater CSI, and it’s a liquid that glows under ultraviolet light. The liquid is intended for spray on property or intruders, and it leaves a residue that is detectable on people for several weeks and on property for years. keyhole

Since more than two dozen law enforcement agencies in South Florida signed up to use the liquid, 11 say property crimes have taken a nosedive. However, it’s only resulted in half a dozen arrests and in no case has stolen property been recovered and returned to its owner. In fact, a number of law enforcement agencies say it doesn’t seem as if the product actually works.

As criminal defense lawyers, we would have a number of questions as to how a certain piece of property could be traced back to that particular owner or how spray identified on a certain individual could be traced back to the crime scene. Continue reading

A 27-year-old Broward County woman is accused of two robberies at two separate banks – one at a SunTrust Bank in Fort Lauderdale and another at a Space Coast Credit Union in Miramar weeks earlier. fingerprint

Federal authorities with the FBI intervened and linked the two crimes with fingerprints, making an arrest just hours after the alleged second robbery. Investigators say the suspect, Ashley Cambridge, heisted a total of $4,220 collectively in both incidents. In both cases, she reportedly handed tellers a note that began with the phrase, “Don’t try anything stupid.”

After matching the fingerprints, authorities with the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force initiated an arrest against her at her apartment in Hollywood, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Cambridge, a mother of two small children, reportedly confessed her involvement in both robberies to authorities. She even went so far as to sign two photographs of the crime scene, circling the alleged robber in both pictures and writing the word, “Me.” She told investigators some of the money had been spent on her family and rent.  Continue reading

Finders keepers, losers weepers. That’s how the saying goes, anyway. Unfortunately for a man in Palm Beach County, the Florida criminal justice system doesn’t quite work that way. diamondring

According to The Sun Sentinel, a woman shopping at Neiman Marcus in Palm Beach stepped into a unisex bathroom when duty called. As she washed her hands, she slipped off a $30,000 diamond ring and placed it on the counter. And then, the Vero Beach made a colossal mistake: She forgot it.

She walked out of the bathroom and soon therefore, police reported, Joseph Tursi walked in. The 58-year-old New York native reportedly pocketed the ring and made no attempt to turn it into store personnel. The 31-year-old alleged victim reportedly didn’t realize her error until she got into her car about 10 minutes later. She put her hands on the steering wheel and then started to panic. She went back to the bathroom to search for the 3-carat diamond ring, but it was nowhere to be seen. Continue reading

Authorities in Weston are tracking down leads trying to find a suspected light-fingered woman with a penchant for long skirts. securitycamera

According to the Sun Sentinel, the woman first appeared on law enforcement radar last year, when she reportedly heisted some $1,000 up or into her flowing, floral skirt. Now, almost exactly a year later, the same woman – accompanied by the same man – reportedly returned to the same store. This time, she had on a different skirt, but the technique was the same. The value of the goods taken this time, police say, was $400.

The dollar amounts are important in these situations because when it comes to Florida theft cases, the severity of the charge will depend on the amount stolen.  Continue reading

The man said he was roped into an international fraud after striking up a conversation with a group in a Romanian night club. That was back in 2007. The plan didn’t involve physically hurting anyone, simply separating them from their money. computermouse1

The following year, he was on a flight to Los Angeles, where he was taught how to open phony bank accounts. He was able to return to Romania. From there, federal prosecutors say, he would trick unsuspecting buyers on websites like AutoTrader.com and Craigslist into putting a down payment on a vehicle. Problem was, he didn’t own any vehicles and he never delivered once the cash was transferred. Authorities say there was never any intention on Mihai Postelnicu’s part to engage in a legitimate vehicle purchase transaction.

He returned to the U.S. in 2010 and began working out of Broward County, where he set up two bank accounts into which victims sent electronic transfers of cash. Posing as a Czech or Swedish citizen, he used fake identification cards and aliases to withdraw the money. The emailed transactions made it appear as if they were from legitimate services, like Google Wallet.

Now, The Sun Sentinel reports, the 37-year-old Postelnicu has been sentenced to 2 years, 9 months in a U.S. federal prison. Once he serves his sentence, he’ll be deported back to Romania.  Continue reading

Three men in South Florida are facing federal fraud charges after authorities allege the men took over control of about 80 houses in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, swapped the locks and then rented these units to tenants who had no idea the “landlords” weren’t the rightful owners.housekeys

The four men, all from Palm Beach County, are facing charges that include mail fraud conspiracy and mail fraud. Bond is being withheld until a judge determines whether they should stay locked up while the case is pending.

Authorities say this brazen scheme specifically targeted homes that were owned by a Georgia-based company in the business of buying and renovating homes and then renting them out. Continue reading