UC-Irvine Bike Thefts Lead to Five Arrests

August 17, 2011
By The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. on August 17, 2011 10:54 AM |

Five people have been charged with allegedly stealing bicycles on the University of California-Irvine campus, The Orange County Register reports.

Bicycles are essential for many college students, especially with tuition costs and gas costs skyrocketing recently, so having them stolen can be a major burden. Those caught for what some may consider a prank may face surprisingly tough penalties. Many forms of theft in Los Angeles, from shoplifting to grand theft, can carry life-altering penalties for those convicted. But mistaken identities or lack of proof can cause many innocent people to suffer. That's why hiring a Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney, who has years of experience defending clients must be mandatory.
In this case, five people -- ranging in age from a juvenile to a 36-year-old man, were arrested by UCI police officers recently. None of those who were arrested attend the university, however. They are charged with suspicion of bicycle thefts.

Police say that about 135 bicycles have been reported stolen from campus since the beginning of the calendar year and investigators believe repeat offenders may be responsible.

The 36-year-old suspect, the article states, has has previous run-ins with campus police. The man was arrested for stealing a bike in September and was convicted of grand theft and sentenced to 90 days in jail. In April, he was arrested again and was convicted of petty theft with a prior.

The most recent arrest happened on August 9, when he allegedly was caught removing a $950 bike from a rack outside a building. He has pleaded not guilty to felony grand theft and misdemeanor possession of burglary tools and contempt of court.

If the article is correct about the suspect's criminal history record, he may face a tough time in court. While a person's criminal history can't be held against them at trial for an unrelated charge, it can be used against them at sentencing. In fact, it is factored into the types of charges they may face in the future and how much time they could possibly serve in prison for the current charge.

And as charges pile up for defendants, the current charge must be aggressively defended. In cases of theft, which range in penalties typically based on the value of the alleged stolen goods, mistaken identity is common as an eye witness picks a person out of a photo display or police lineup, when they had nothing to do with the crime.

Many people charged with theft crimes in Orange County are arrested riding in a vehicle that has stolen goods or are otherwise accused of receiving stolen property. But proving the person stole the goods if no one saw them take the property can be an obstacle for the state and an advantage for the defense.

These charges, like all criminal cases, must be met with skepticism. Because, like everyone else, police officers make mistakes. This can be particularly true of university police departments. They get pressured from the top to make arrests, especially if a crime spree is happening in a neighborhood that's getting news media attention. While they sometimes act with good intentions, they also sometimes go over-the-top in their pursuit of criminals and can arrest the wrong person. Make sure experience is on your side if this happens to you.

If you are facing criminal charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. Through three decades of experienced, Attorney LaBarbera has argued over 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Being Convicted of a Crime in Santa Ana can have Long-Term Consequences: May 6, 2011

Additional Resources:

Police: 5 arrested in UCI campus bike thefts, by Sean Emery, The Orange County Register