A recent News4Jax story is attempting to help catch to car burglars who were captured on home security surveillance system.  The report states that the car burglaries took place on Jacksonville’s Northside.  As is often common in car burglary cases, the car doors were unlocked.  The two men were recorded pulling on car handles, and if unlocked, the two would enter the cars and start rummaging throughout the cars looking for anything of value.  The story stresses to homeowners the importance of removing valuables from your motor vehicles as well as to make sure your car door are locked.

Car burglaries are becoming an all too popular crime.  They can certainly be labeled as a crime of opportunity in that the individuals committing the crimes almost always try and seek cars that have unlocked doors.  The crime is often referred to as “Car Hopping.”  The suspects often times pick areas with lots of cars such as an apartment complex or hotel parking lot.  It only takes one car left unlocked that contains a laptop, I-Pad, or law enforcement’s biggest concern, a firearm. Thefts and Car Burglaries also tend to rise in the summer time.  Law Enforcement typically blames the correlation on the amount of juveniles out of school for the summer.  It is typically a crime committed by juveniles and it is almost always committed with several juveniles working together.

The News4Jax story posted still shots captured on the security cameras of the individuals in the recent car burglary story.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will likely receive tips as to the two individuals based on the still shots.  Once identified, the Sheriff’s Office will likely seek a warrant from the State Attorney’s Office for their arrest.  The Sheriff’s Office will also have spoken to the owner of the cars to determine what personal property was stolen.  A pawn search can be conducted once the specific items are determined missing to see if any of the stolen property was in fact pawned.  A serial number is normally the easiest way to prove an item belonging to the victim was pawned.

The charges the two individuals face in the event they are properly identified is Burglary to a Structure or Conveyance, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine.  To prove the crime of Burglary to a Conveyance the State of Florida is required to prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  First the State must prove that the suspect entered a conveyance owned by or in the possession of the victim.  Second, the State must prove at the time of entering the conveyance, the suspect had the intent to commit a crime within that conveyance.What is important to point out regarding the elements of the crime is that for someone to be found guilty of a burglary the State must prove an individual had the intent to commit a crime within the car.  The State will rely on the security camera showing the individuals rummaging through the vehicles as well as the victim’s testimony regarding what items are now missing from the car. 


What young individuals who go car hopping fail to realize is how serious the offense is.  A third degree felony arrest or conviction can follow you the rest of your life.  What the individuals certainly never consider is the consequences they will face if they take a firearm out of the car.  The stakes are raised much higher as now the individual is facing and Armed Burglary charge, which is punishable by up to life in prison.  In the event an individual is found guilty of a burglary the State of Florida is then required to prove that in the course of committing the burglary, the suspect was armed, or armed himself or herself within the conveyance with a dangerous weapon.   It has been this writer’s experience that a firearm represents, to even the least experienced burglar, an item that can be easily converted to cash or drugs.

To arm oneself during the course of a burglary includes possessing a firearm, whether loaded with ammunition or not, at any time during the course of committing the burglary.  What also occurs in the event the State of Florida proves an individual possessed a firearm (even by simply removing it from the vehicle) is the application of Florida’s tough on crime 10-20-Life law.  In this scenario a 10 year minimum mandatory would apply.  The Judge’s hands would be tied in that no sentence under ten years in prison would be legal.  No young kid out car hopping is aware of how serious of a mistake they are making when they go out to have fun with friends and go “car hopping.”

In the event the individuals pawned any of the items the State of Florida typically has a wrapped up second degree felony charge referred to as Dealing in Stolen Property, a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.  To prove this crime the State of Florida is required to prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  First that the Suspect trafficked in or endeavored to traffic in stolen property.  Second that the Suspect knew or should have known that the property was stolen.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has access to a pawn shop data base.  Any item pawned or sold at a pawn shop must be entered into the data base by the pawnshop employee.  Pawnshop transaction forms contain tons of condemning evidence including a suspect’s thumb print, signature, name, date of birth, address.  It is also required for an individual pawning items to show a valid Florida Driver’s License or Identification card.  Almost every pawn shop has video surveillance cameras capturing the suspect holding the stolen items they are pawning. All that is required after a car burglary is for the Detective to enter the stolen item’s serial number into the pawnshop data base, and if in fact pawned, the Detective has likely found a quick and simple way to solve the case.  The more experienced burglars know the dangers of pawning the fruits of a burglary and will frequently dupe an unassuming person or a hopeless addict into making the pawns.  If the items are pawned “close in time” to the burglary, the Detective will absolutely try to hang the burglaries on the person who entered the pawn shop.  It has been this writer’s experience that the Detectives working auto burglary cases hardly ever go examine the vehicles that were burglarized.


Should you, a friend or a family member have the above type of scenario at hand, consult with a Jacksonville (Duval), Nassau, Baker, Bradford, St. Johns and Clay County criminal defense attorney.  The Jacksonville based Forbess Law Firm, has handled countless numbers of burglary and theft cases involving Armed Burglary, Burglary to a Structure or Conveyance (Car Burglary), Burglary to a Dwelling (Home), Burglary with an Assault or Battery, Grand Theft, Petit Theft, Employee Theft, Schemes to Defraud, Utterings, Worthless Checks, Dealing in Stolen Property, False Verification to a Pawn Broker all the way from that simple pack of gum, soft drink or women’s blouse up to extremely complex White Collar Fraud cases.  Further, if you learn you have an active warrant out for your arrest, regardless of the charges, remember it shows accountability on your part if you surrender.  A criminal defense attorney is normally able to help the surrendering process to ensure your rights are protected.  Often at the time of arrest, detectives or patrol officers will attempt to get a statement from you.  If your lawyer is present at the time you surrender, you will have protection to make sure your rights are not violated.  The Forbess Law Firm has handled several hundred voluntary surrenders on warrants from serious felonies to simple failures to appear on traffic related offenses.  We are also always available to appear in first appearance court commonly referred to as bond hearings to help facilitate a reasonable bond and to determine whether probable cause actually exists on your case.  We always offer a free consultation and/or jail visit and can be reached at 904-634-0900.


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