Down in the Florida Keys, police officers are looking for the individuals believed to be responsible for 21 car burglaries.
In Florida, breaking into a car constitutes the crime of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance. Each count is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
A burglary of a conveyance, just like the burglary of a dwelling, requires proof of intent to commit a crime inside of the conveyance. Merely breaking a car window is only a criminal mischief and simply entering a car is a trespass. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit a crime inside of the car. More often than not, that crime is theft.
An actual theft need not occur in order to be charged with a burglary. Proof that the defendant rummaged through the car is enough to prove intent to steal.
Remember - intent is proven through the circumstances, unless the defendant confesses to stealing or attempting to steal. Without a confession, the state will look to the circumstances to prove the defendant’s intent. This may come from testimony as to the condition of the car after it was broken into. It may come from a witness who saw the defendant break into the car and rummage through it. It may also come from fingerprints or DNA evidence on the glove box door, proving that the defendant entered the glove box, presumably to steal items inside.
In the Florida Keys case, sheriff’s deputies are looking at surveillance video from parking lots where the burglaries occurred to see if a suspect or suspects can be identified.
Eric Matheny is a Miami burglary attorney and Broward burglary attorney, representing clients charged with both burglary of a conveyance and burglary of a dwelling.