Recently, CBS News published an article on their website about a California man who had a $10,000 watch stolen from him. For a year afterwards, he regularly looked through eBay and other sites in the hopes of spotting it. On the day he found it, he notified police, who wound up making an arrest after setting up a meeting with the seller as prospective buyers.
Sites like eBay and Craigslist regularly play a role in various crimes, including both grand theft and petty theft. Perpetrators try to make a profit off of stolen goods, and a stolen item might appear online even hours after a theft.
When it comes to criminal defense, what are some of the issues raised by these sites and their potentially illegal use?
- Crime victims don't have to wait for law enforcement officials to act on their behalf and perform all the detective work. They can use the Internet to track down their own stolen goods. This can increase the chances of a perpetrator getting caught after a crime.
- Perpetrators potentially set themselves up for additional criminal charges beyond grand theft and petty theft. For example, if they wind up selling a stolen item across state lines or overseas, they can leave themselves open to additional charges.
- There's also the potential for mistakes. For example, someone suspected of theft might have tried selling an item they thought legitimately belongs to them; in the CBS News story, the victim had apparently produced paperwork that proves he owns the watch, but other times ownership is much less clear. Another danger concerns people who buy stolen goods on these sites. Generally, they won't get into legal trouble if they make the purchase without knowing the item is stolen; but what if law enforcement officials suspect that they did know?
Online transactions open up a whole new realm of evidence and potential criminal charges. It's important to secure powerful legal representation if you're facing any of these serious charges. If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Wildomar, Perris, Hemet, Corona and Riverside areas, don't hesitate to contact us. We can help!