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Stealing from other people’s vehicles is a crime

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2023 | Criminal Law | 0 comments

There has been a spike in theft from automobiles in recent years thanks to viral videos showing how dangerously easy it is to open locked vehicle doors. If you’re thinking of following these videos to pilfer from parked cars, remember that theft is a crime in Pennsylvania.

The most common items stolen from vehicles

Thieves often target high-value items, and the same is true when it comes to stealing items from vehicles. The following are some of the more common things sought after by thieves:

  • Catalytic converters: Perhaps one of the most popular auto parts to steal among thieves. Catalytic converters are made from expensive metals such as gold and platinum so that they can be resold for high prices. The auto part is such a highly targeted item that America has seen over 64,000 catalytic converter thefts in 2022.
  • Car radios and speakers: The next most valuable items in automobiles. While newer onboard audio systems have become much harder to take apart and steal, thieves are likelier to take customized speaker setups instead.
  • GPS: Whether it’s the onboard GPS or the portable, dash-mounted variety, thieves might try to take these expensive electronics to resell.
  • Valuables left behind: Thieves wouldn’t miss a chance to steal any valuables left behind inside an automobile. These include smartphones, laptops, tablets, cash and so on.

You might face severe penalties if caught stealing any of the above items from a car, especially if the items carry much value.

The penalties

If an officer charges you with theft from a motor vehicle, the penalties awaiting you depend on how much you stole:

  • Theft value less than $50: A third-degree misdemeanor on conviction, which carries a maximum $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail.
  • Theft value between $50 and $200: A second-degree misdemeanor that leads to a maximum $5,000 fine and up to two years in prison.
  • Theft value greater than $200: A first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction will lead to a maximum $10,000 fine and up to five years of jail time.

If you commit your third offense within five years, you’ll face a third-degree felony conviction regardless of the value of the stolen items. A third-degree felony carries a maximum $15,000 fine and up to seven years in prison.

Stealing from a vehicle is a crime, and you could face harsh consequences for trying to pull a stunt you’ve seen on social media. If you face charges, consider studying your legal options.



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