Only in Florida: Man, Woman, Dog Accused of Computer Theft

leifertlaw November 18, 2011 Theft

The Sun-Sentinel recently reported that a man, woman and dog were spotted on video breaking into city hall in Pembroke Pines to steal computers.

It’s unlikely the dog gets charged criminally, but charges of grand theft in Fort Lauderdale can lead to severe penalties for defendants.

Like any charge, theft charges can range in severity from something minor like shoplifting to something more severe, such as burglary or robbery. In Florida, the charge is also based on what was stolen.

Prosecutors will attempt to prove the value of what was taken while they try to show that the defendant was the one who stole. This is an important element of the crime of theft in Florida. If the value of the goods is very high, the charge can be considered grand theft and can range from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony.

That’s a difference of five years in prison up to 30 years in prison or life. So, this is a critical element in theft cases that an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer must challenge.

In this case, city officials said two computers were stolen at the city building. Video surveillance showed a man wearing black pants and a plaid shirt one recent weekend afternoon when the building was open for a function. He took the elevator to the sixth floor, where commissioners and the mayor share office space, the newspaper reports.

The video also allegedly shows the man taking two desktop computers from that area and down a stairwell, where a woman and a toy breed dog held a back door open. They allegedly drove of in a gold sedan.

At this point, the two haven’t been found and it’s unclear what charges they would face, if convicted. The value of the two computers hasn’t been released. Officials said that the computers were connected to a server with potentially secure information, but once the computers were disconnected from the network, that information wouldn’t be accessible.

They don’t believe the thieves were looking for anything specific, but only the newest computer models in the office. They were recently upgraded.

What could be a key element of the case is whether or not the video surveillance is clear or does a good job showing the faces of the participants. It’s also unclear whether there is outside surveillance that may have caught the car or a license plate number.

Many times in burglary cases, police rely on grainy or unclear video surveillance to seek a search warrant on someone they may recognize or whom they may identify as a suspect. But without a clear shot from the tape, sometimes the identity of the person isn’t clear and can lead to a false arrest.

There are many elements to a theft or burglary case that must be taken into consideration to ensure the defendant gets a fair trial. Investigating the facts and scrutinizing witnesses are only the beginning.

If you are arrested in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

More Blog Entries:

Former Palm Beach County Employee Faces Grand Theft Charge: August 30, 2011
Additional Resources:

Officials: Man, woman and dog behind computer theft at Pines City Hall, by Ihosvani Rodriguez, Sun-Sentinel

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