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  1. #1
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    Default Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: California (but kind of a general question, really)

    So, here's my understanding: Let's say my roommate, upon moving out, took my television worth $1300 (no question that it's mine; have receipts and everything). She then gave/sold it to someone (a friend, pawn shop, whatever). Upon being informed that it was stolen property, they would be required to return it to its lawful owner, right?

    I'm assuming that is correct, from my knowledge of the law.

    Now, here's the thing. My roommate didn't steal my television. She stole $1300 in cash that I had withdrawn earlier that day to pay the upcoming rent and other assorted bills. I have the receipts from the bank and there's no question that it was my money. She then gave it to an acquaintance of hers (it's iffy if she gave it to him for something, or to settle an old debt). However, it wasn't her money. It was mine. The police have a warrant out for her, but for some reason they're not bothering to return the stolen property (ie. my money) from the recipient. How is this right/fair????? I want my money back, and this guy got it straight from the thief who took it. How is that not possession of stolen property?!?!?!?!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Stolen Property, Can Police Force Its Return

    It's not possession of stolen property because it hasn't yet been determined as stolen.

    At the moment it's an allegation. At the moment she's not a thief.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    With a TV your paperwork probably has the serial number so the property can be identified.

    Not the same with money.

    You would have had to have recorded the serial numbers on the bills and the bills with those serial numbers would have had to have been found in the possession of the receiver to be the equivalent of your TV scenario.

    In other words, TV to money is apples to oranges.

    Doesn't work that way.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    Quote Quoting DarkNozomi
    View Post
    My question involves criminal law for the state of: California (but kind of a general question, really)

    So, here's my understanding: Let's say my roommate, upon moving out, took my television worth $1300 (no question that it's mine; have receipts and everything). She then gave/sold it to someone (a friend, pawn shop, whatever). Upon being informed that it was stolen property, they would be required to return it to its lawful owner, right?
    Not necessarily.

    If your friend moved out and took your TV, it might be considered a civil matter. You may have bought it with your credit card, but maybe he says that he agreed to pay the utilities that month. A lot depends on who says what, and it may come down to a matter for civil restitution from the ex-roommate.

    And, even if it were stolen, the police cannot generally simply require the pawnbroker to turn it back over to a victim. There's a process we have to go through to seize the items and it often takes a judge to decide who gets what, and very often someone has to pay the pawn shop. (I'm giving the Reader's Digest version of the law here ... it can be a little more complex at times).

    Now, here's the thing. My roommate didn't steal my television. She stole $1300 in cash that I had withdrawn earlier that day to pay the upcoming rent and other assorted bills. I have the receipts from the bank and there's no question that it was my money. She then gave it to an acquaintance of hers (it's iffy if she gave it to him for something, or to settle an old debt). However, it wasn't her money. It was mine. The police have a warrant out for her, but for some reason they're not bothering to return the stolen property (ie. my money) from the recipient. How is this right/fair????? I want my money back, and this guy got it straight from the thief who took it. How is that not possession of stolen property?!?!?!?!
    Did the person receiving the cash KNOW it was stolen property?

    Can you identify the cash by serial number? Seizing cash is not as easy as you make it out to be. There is a process that must be adhered to in order to avoid violating the rights of someone else. The police cannot deprive this guy of money without due process. Now, if he voluntarily coughs up the cash, great. But, if he spent it, it's going to be an issue for a court to decide if you sue him.

    Yes, it might be possible that the recipient could be required to turn it over, but the police will have no legal right to dive into the guy's pockets to retrieve the money or invade his home searching for cash.

    Now, you are free to sue the ex roommate and the recipient if you want. Ultimately, if convicted, the ex roommate will be required to pay you restitution.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    How can you prove this cash is yours?

    just because it is a roommate doesn't mean anything. You could have lost that money, spent it, gambled it....you could have had other people to the apartment/house......

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    I would know if I had spent or gambled it, duh.

    There's no doubt that she took the money and gave it to this guy, because the guy freely says she did, and his position is that it's not his problem, the money is his now. There's also several people who she admitted this to; I'm not worried about proving factually that the money was taken from me, by her.

    I suppose in the end it's my fault for not assuming that every other human being on the planet is about to rob me blind the second my back is turned. I'm guessing that once she is found and convicted of this, I'll have a stronger bargaining chip to use the courts/police to get my money back?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    DarkNozomi;703742]I would know if I had spent or gambled it, duh.
    duh? Seriously? How would you know if he had spent the money? Are you with him 24/7, never out of each others sight so you would actually know he did or didn't spend it?

    There's no doubt that she took the money and gave it to this guy, because the guy freely says she did, and his position is that it's not his problem, the money is his now.
    Unless he was there when she took the money, his statement proves nothing.

    what actual proof do you have she took the money? Before you answer, read that again: ACTUAL PROOF


    There's also several people who she admitted this to; I'm not worried about proving factually that the money was taken from me, by her.
    Now that might get you somewhere. Of course they are going to have to testify to that in court, under penalty of perjury.

    I suppose in the end it's my fault for not assuming that every other human being on the planet is about to rob me blind the second my back is turned. I'm guessing that once she is found and convicted of this, I'll have a stronger bargaining chip to use the courts/police to get my money back?
    actually, at that point, you have no bargaining chips. She would have nothing more to lose so what could you offer her to entice her to pay you?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    Quote Quoting jk
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    duh? Seriously? How would you know if he had spent the money? Are you with him 24/7, never out of each others sight so you would actually know he did or didn't spend it?

    Unless he was there when she took the money, his statement proves nothing.

    what actual proof do you have she took the money? Before you answer, read that again: ACTUAL PROOF


    Now that might get you somewhere. Of course they are going to have to testify to that in court, under penalty of perjury.

    actually, at that point, you have no bargaining chips. She would have nothing more to lose so what could you offer her to entice her to pay you?
    (I have no idea how to break a quote up like you did, sorry)

    I'm assuming a confession is actual proof, is it not? My former roommate has told (in addition to this guy she gave the money to), three other people, including her stepfather.

    Again, I'm not worried about this being proven wrong in criminal court; I'm just asking who I should be going after to get my money back? The girl who stole it doesn't have possession of it anymore, so obviously I can't go after her... how do I get the police/courts to get the guy to give my money back (even if it means waiting for the court case to end)?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    Quote Quoting DarkNozomi
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    I would know if I had spent or gambled it, duh.

    There's no doubt that she took the money and gave it to this guy, because the guy freely says she did, and his position is that it's not his problem, the money is his now. There's also several people who she admitted this to; I'm not worried about proving factually that the money was taken from me, by her.
    That might certainly help in a criminal prosecution or a civil suit against her.

    I'm guessing that once she is found and convicted of this, I'll have a stronger bargaining chip to use the courts/police to get my money back?
    If she is convicted, she should be required to make restitution ... if she can. If she has no job, though, it may take her years to come up with your money.

    You MIGHT have a small claims action against the guy she gave it to, but that's iffy.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting DarkNozomi
    View Post
    (I have no idea how to break a quote up like you did, sorry)

    I'm assuming a confession is actual proof, is it not? My former roommate has told (in addition to this guy she gave the money to), three other people, including her stepfather.
    If all of those people are willing to take the stand and testify as to her unequivocal confession to stealing the money, great. If they waffle, or if the language was an admission that she took it but claims that it was hers to do with as she wished, things could get dicey. But, I suppose that if the DA sought an arrest warrant, he feels he has the proof he needs to prove the theft.

    Again, I'm not worried about this being proven wrong in criminal court; I'm just asking who I should be going after to get my money back?
    The person who stole the money is the person responsible for it.

    The girl who stole it doesn't have possession of it anymore, so obviously I can't go after her...
    It's not like it's a ring with sentimental value. Unless those particular bills had some sort of significance to you, she is still going to be held responsible if convicted or or ordered to pay in a civil court.

    how do I get the police/courts to get the guy to give my money back (even if it means waiting for the court case to end)?
    It is unlikely that the courts will order the other guy to give any money back unless you sue him and win a judgment. And the police, well, they don't go after money and cannot determine who owns what. If he wants to hand them the money and says it was from her, great. But, as I said, they aren't going to force him to give up the money absent a court order.

    Understand that you will not see any money for a very long time no matter which path is taken.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can Police Force the Return of Stolen Property

    DarkNozomi;703759](I have no idea how to break a quote up like you did, sorry)

    I'm assuming a confession is actual proof, is it not? My former roommate has told (in addition to this guy she gave the money to), three other people, including her stepfather.
    it could help but how do you prove the theft if she says: oh, I was just BS'ing. I didn't take his money.

    the only person to go after is the person you claimed took it. It does not matter who has possession of the specific bills (and I doubt you could identify the actual bills taken). In situations such as this, you hold the thief responsible for making you whole which means, you go after them for the money.

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