Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Entering Laundry Room Through Window to Steal Coins Is Not ‘Shoplifting’—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A man who entered an apartment building laundry room through a window at about 6:12 a.m. and stole $39.25 in quarters cannot have his felony conviction for burglary reduced to shoplifting, a misdemeanor, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held yesterday.
Mark Anthony Lopez sought a reduction under Proposition 47, approved by voters on Nov. 4, 2014.
Justice Betty Bamattre-Manoukian said in her unpublished opinion that under Penal Code §459.5, “shoplifting is defined as entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours.” The emphasis is hers.
Lopez argued that “by the very nature of an apartment laundry facility, its business hours are 24/7.”
Bamattre-Manoukian rejected the contention, declaring:
“According to the documents attached to defendant’s petition for resentencing, defendant told the police that the laundry room door was unlocked, and that upon exiting the room he had locked the door. However, police determined that defendant had entered the laundry room through an unsecured window. Given that defendant entered the room by going through a window in the early morning, the documents attached to defendant’s petition give rise to an inference that the laundry room was not ‘open’ for ‘business.’…Because the documents presented with defendant’s petition reflect that the laundry room was not ‘open during regular business hours’ at the time of his entry through the window, defendant failed to show that he would have been guilty of misdemeanor shoplifting had the statute been in effect at the time of his offense.”
The jurist said there was no need to determine whether the laundry room constitutes a “commercial establishment.”
She also did not respond to the contention of the Office of Attorney General that the shoplifting statute applies only to the theft of “openly displayed merchandise.” That contention runs counter to a Court of Appeal opinion last month from this district which says that a burglary conviction for stealing luggage from the baggage claim area at an airport can be reduced to shoplifting.
Bamattre-Manoukian’s opinion came in People v. Lopez, H043042.
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