Larceny occurs when someone takes something from someone else with the intention of keeping (or selling) the goods.  However, the law generally requires a person to commit some kind of trespass in order to commit a larceny.  This requirement is often not met, and the person faces less severe penalties.  Because of this rule, sometimes the property owner will try to trap the person.

What Happens When The Person Who Owns The Property Traps The Thief?

If you suspected someone kept stealing from you, you would try to catch them in the act right?  Well, if the person who owns the property (whether it’s a tv or even an antique bottle) learns that the thief is planning on stealing the property and waits for the person, the court may rule there is no trespass.  In fact, some property owners will almost try to entice the thief to steal an item by leaving a door unlocked or a window open.

For example, Tom arranges with Yolanda, an employee at the Weasel Packing Co., for Yolanda to put three boxes of Weasel Juice on the loading platforms. The plan is for Tom to load the boxes into his truck and drive away like any customer.  Tom informs his boss of the plan and is told to “go along with the plan” in order to catch Yolanda.  The boxes are put on the platform, Tom drives away with them and is arrested.  He’s shortly pulled over by the police and charged with larceny.  However, because the boss at Weasel Packing Co., told Tom to take the boxes, he had the consent of the company and didn’t actually trespass on the property.

For many courts this trespassing requirement can be quite frustrating.  It’s tough to see why the owner telling Tom to go along with the plan counts as “consent.”

What do you think?  Should an employee that goes along with an illegal plan still be charged with a crime?  Does it make sense that someone has to go onto someone else’s land to commit larceny?

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