Florida Man Attempts To Steal Cell-Phone From Store; “Pole” Shows Crime Doesn’t Pay

Patrick James Gelardi of Delray Beach, Florida was arrested after Boynton Beach police say he tried to steal a Nokia Lumia phone from an AT&T store. The store manager told police she followed Gelardi out of the store after he cut the phone off a wall display with wire cutters. Gelardi, realizing he was being followed, took off, apparently colliding with a post, loosing several teeth in the collision. Gelardi took off but police caught up with him after a check of area hospitals led them to Bethesda Memorial where he was identified and arrested.

Many times, people will think that they have not stolen anything because they did not make it out of the store or pass a register; sometimes, some people change their mind and attempt to put what was originally to be stolen, back. Unfortunately for those people, they will still be arrested for theft. One will not be charged with “attempted theft.” The Florida appellate courts have held that the legislature was attempting to define “theft” as including “endeavors to obtain or use,” the mere attempt to commit theft, within the charge of theft itself. Therefore, the State must prove an attempted theft, along with the requisite intent, in order to properly convict one of a Florida theft crime.

For a charge like retail theft, the State attorney will use an assortment of tools to attempt to prove the case against one. Loss prevention officers at department stores are commonly used for testimony purposes; however, loss prevention officers are not police officers and do not care about whether one accidently forgot to pay for something; proper investigation in the manner a police officer is required to do is not in the loss prevention officer’s job description. Normally the store will call the police who will arrest one unless one admits to stealing the items.

Police will often question the loss prevention officer, who works for the store and has bias to tell a story of one’s guilt. The police then question and possibly arrest or issue a notice to appear in court to the now flustered and scared parent. By the time the police officer arrives to do a proper investigation, the loss prevention officer has already painted a tale of thievery that police will most likely believe.

First-degree petit theft is defined as the taking of property valued at more than $100 and less than $300. It is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying the possibility of up to one year in jail.

One may also have be charged with first-degree petit theft if one has a prior theft conviction, regardless of the value of property. A third offense is a third-degree felony with a possible prison term of one to five years. Any petit theft conviction can also result in driver’s license suspension of up to six months on a first offense and up to one year on subsequent offenses.
Under Florida law, the crime of petit theft requires proof of a taking with the intent to steal. Many times, some people take other’s trash, thinking “one man’s trash is another’s treasure.” However, some neighbors do not like strangers picking up the old couch or Christmas tree at the end of the driveway, or realize that the item they threw out they wanted and attempt to being criminal charges against the one who took it.

Remember, Florida law only criminalizes the stealing of “property.” Property is defined as “anything of value”, value being well-defined as “the market value of property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense.” Thus if someone places something by the road, it has become trash that presumably has no value.
Fortunately, if one obtains an experienced Jacksonville theft crimes defense attorney, one’s attorney will be able to challenge the evidence against one, including questioning witness testimony, questioning the conduct and manner of the arrest or search, or how evidence was processed by law enforcement.

The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: Delray man accused of theft smashes face into post during escape, Adam Sacasa, Sun-Sentinel

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