Alabama Gym Theft Case – Property Crime Charges Depend Upon Value

Tags: Criminal Defense

A 52-year-old Madison man is accused of committing numerous theft crimes at gyms in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

The defendant was charged with two counts of theft and breaking and entering a vehicle, according to media reports. He is being held in the Madison County Jail on $14,000 bond. Police say citizens caught him breaking into vehicles.

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Police then obtained a warrant and said they found numerous stolen items, including a police badge, cell phones and a championship football ring. Authorities believe the defendant was driving around to gyms and fitness clubs throughout the Southeast, where he would enter locker rooms and steal wallets, watches and other personal belongings.

Birmingham criminal defense attorney will first look at the eyewitness testimony and the search warrant affidavit.

-There just is not much that is less reliable than an eye witness. You wouldn’t think it so, but it’s true. In fact, that’s part of the problem as juries tend to place out-sized credibility on the testimony of those persons who were at the scene.

-The search warrant affidavit will have what evidence law enforcement used to justify obtaining the warrant, and the permissible scope of the search. The media does not report whether the alleged stolen property was recovered from a search of the defendant’s car or of his home. Just because evidence exists to justify the search of a person’s vehicle, does not necessarily mean authorities are justified in tossing the house on a hunt for possible illegal activity.

The Madison County Record reports the man was caught going through a victim’s car in the parking lot of the YMCA.Police accuse him of stealing the keys from a locker in the locker room and then rifling through the vehicle. It’s the second time he has been accused of stealing from the locker room.

Some of the property recovered from the defendant had reportedly been stolen from the YMCA in Birmingham.

Theft charges are outlined in Code of Alabama – Title 13A: Criminal Code – Chapter 8. The value of the items stolen often determines the seriousness of the charge.

-First-degree theft: Theft of property over $2,500 or the aggregate value of items stolen over a 30-day period is at least $1,000. This is a Class B felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.

-Second-degree theft: Value between $500 and $2,500, theft of debit or credit cards, theft of firearms or the theft of a controlled substance. Class C felony with a penalty of 1-10 years.

-Third-degree theft: Value up to $500. Is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail.

So we see, regardless of value, if the defendant is accused of stealing wallets containing credit or debit cards, he may be convicted of a more serious theft crime. In some cases, authorities will combine theft charges to reach a higher dollar value, will inflate the reasonable value of the alleged stolen merchandise or will attempt to treat each stolen item as a separate crime. Hiring an experienced defense attorney can frequently make quick work of such charges.


Additional Resources: 

Madison police arrest man for string of thefts committed since 2010, By Sarah Cure, The Huntsville Times, July 18, 2012.

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