Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 21, 2016


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Stealing Piece of Luggage at LAX Is ‘Shoplifting,’ Court of Appeal Holds


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Stealing a piece of luggage from a baggage claim area of the Los Angeles International Airport constitutes “shoplifting,” the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.

The opinion, by Presiding Justice Lee Edmon of Div. Three, paves the way for a new hearing for Michael Anthony Camera—convicted, on a guilty plea, of second degree burglary—on his petition for resentencing, pursuant to Proposition 47. Enacted by voters in 2014, as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” the measure reduces certain felonies to misdemeanors, including those second degree burglaries which meet the definition of “shoplifting.”

Penal Code §459.5 defines “shoplifting” as “entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950).”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryn A. Solorzano found that Camera’s act did not meet that definition. The appeals court disagreed.

“We conclude that LAX is a commercial establishment because it is a place of business engaged in the selling of services,” Edmon said in an unpublished opinion. “We further conclude that Camera’s criminal conduct fits within section 459.5 and, therefore, he is eligible for resentencing under Proposition 47.”

The Office of Attorney General argued on appeal that voters that voters intended “shoplifting” to be understood in its customary sense: stealing “openly displayed merchandise” from an establishment that “operates primarily by selling goods to the public.”

Edmon countered:

“The plain language of section 459.5 defines ‘shoplifting’ to mean entry into a commercial establishment during regular business hours with the intent to commit larceny, and we may not revise that definition to accept respondent’s view that ‘shoplifting’ includes only the theft of ‘openly displayed merchandise’ from a retail store.”

Rejecting the argument that §459.5 is inapplicable because a baggage claim area is not a “commercial establishment,” Edmon said:

“[S]ection 459.5 does not state that only certain areas of a commercial establishment qualify under the statute, and we therefore decline to subdivide businesses into areas that qualify or do not qualify under section 459.5.”

The case is People v. Camera, B264367.


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