It would seem the city of Jacksonville is plagued with car burglaries. According to a report from News4Jax in just the first three months of 2012, over 900 Jacksonville car burglaries have been reported. The zip codes with the highest reported incidences were 32210 with 79, 32244 with 77, 32246 with 67, and 32218 with 62. While surely many involved “breaking and entering” the vehicle, whether by smashing the window or by jimmying the door locks, the majority of auto burglaries are crimes of opportunity. By leaving doors unlocked and valuables in plain sight, car owners are inviting the opportunistic thief to peruse the goodies therein. The best way to avoid theft of items from your vehicle is without a doubt locking your doors. It is a common practice for thieves to go around parking lots trying car doors until they find one that is unlocked. As the proverb goes, “opportunity makes the thief.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has even gone so far as to utilize “bait cars”. These are specially designed vehicles used to tempt people into stealing them. The police leave the car door open with the car running. The car has a video camera and automatic locks that can be controlled by remote control. Once the unsuspecting perpetrator drives off, the doors lock and the car turns off. Every time this happens, JSO can make a grand theft auto arrest. The officers are not stopping would-be auto thieves, but are arresting opportunists.
What many fail to realize, however, is that simply opening an unlocked car door and removing something of so little value as a pen or some spare change, much less a cell phone or GPS, is a felony, specifically burglary to a conveyance. This Jacksonville, Florida felony carries the same weight as if one were to bust in the door of an unoccupied home and carry out televisions, jewelry, or anything else. In the state of Florida, burglary is defined as entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein. So as long as any part of your body enters within the vehicle you have committed the necessary act. Removal of property from within the vehicle is not required, only the intent to do so. Proving the lack of such intent usually is the key factor in gaining an acquittal. So car owners would be prudent to prevent such a serious offense by locking their cars and storing valuables out of site. And to anyone presented with such an “opportunity,” be advised of the dire consequences that could follow.
If you or a loved one are accused of a theft crime in Jacksonville, Clay County or Nassau County, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Criminal Theft Lawyer is experienced in defending those accused of burglary and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.