When people commit a burglary, a lot of times the police are unable to catch these individuals because they're either sneaking into a house when nobody is home, taking all of the stuff and leaving, and a lot of times they will leave evidence as to who they were that went into the home.
Other times they will sneak in in the middle of the night when the people are asleep, take something and they're able to get away before the people wake up and can contact the police.
A lot of these burglary crews are very difficult to catch by the police. But I get cases all the time as a criminal defense attorney where people are being charged with burglary cases and there's no eyewitnesses identifying them inside of a home and they're not caught with any of the property related to the burglary. California Penal Code 459 defines the crime of burglary.
Powerful Investigative Tools Used By Police
So, the question becomes, how is it possible that they're being prosecuted for a burglary. I have family members calling saying they illegally arrested my significant other. I don't understand. They didn't catch him inside the house and they're charging him with burglary. What they don't realize is there's other ways to catch people for burglary now. The police now have a lot of very powerful investigative tools.
One big tool that has come on the scene is this so-called ping evidence. And really what it has to do with is a person's cellphone pinging off towers off to burglary scenes.
So, they can pinpoint people within a mile or two of a burglary scene and that evidence combined with other evidence is sometimes good enough to be able to catch them.
Also, if they believe it's a crew of burglars and they can pinpoint the other crew member's phones pinging off cell phone towers close to the burglary scene and also close to their fellow burglars, and they can also get phone records showing them talking to each other while burglaries are occurring, this starts to get a foothold on being able to prove that people are involved with a particular burglary.
Possession of Stolen Property
Other evidence that can also be found that surrounds that ping evidence is obviously, if they're caught with any of the stolen property. A lot of times people are stupid enough to pawn merchandise that has been stolen in a burglary.
That's another way they can be caught and prosecuted for the crime of burglary. There's other evidence available. They can also get video evidence of the person near the burglary scene if they go back and check that out. Also, sometimes witnesses will get license plates.
So, a lot of these burglaries that are being cracked where they don't have eye witnesses or video evidence of the person actually in the home stealing the merchandise, are being cracked by what we call circumstantial evidence, and that's basically the police building a chain of evidence through circumstances that make it clear that the person was involved in the particular burglary that they've been arrested for.
The perfect example is one I give a lot when I try to explain circumstantial evidence is when a mother bakes a pie and a little boy is left alone with the pie in the kitchen and the mother comes back five minutes later and a big bite is taken out of the pie, and asks the little boy, did you bite that pie and the little boy says no.
Now, there was no video of the boy biting the pie. There's no witnesses seeing the boy bite the pie, but meanwhile, circumstantially, the boy was the only one in the kitchen. The boy has pie crumbs all over his shirt. The boy has cherry pie juice all around his face. That's circumstantial evidence that the boy bit the pie.
Similarly, in a circumstance where there's a bunch of circumstances that show someone was involved in a burglary, the police will make a run at trying to get that person. They'll give it to the prosecutors who are lawyers that work for the People of the State of California and a lot of times these prosecutors are sophisticated enough to be able to show a jury circumstantially that a particular person or persons was involved in a burglary.
Another way that they're linking these burglaries together is through gang activity. A lot of these gang members are stupid enough to put the stolen merchandise on Facebook, for example. They put a picture of themselves with the watch or some other merchandise from a burglary.
So, once you start to tie all of these things together, now it makes sense why the police have arrested a particular person, and all the people can do in this scenario is point to the fact, well just because I had a picture of a watch on Facebook, that's not enough to get me for burglary.
That doesn't mean that I went into the house. But, what they don't realize is they've got about twenty other things that make if plausible that you were the one that went into the house and burglarized it.