Home Owners Beware
Last updated 7/18/2023 at 11:48am
Bushes, cactus, a large decorative bell and a 6 foot swath of pool tiles were found missing from a house on De Anza Drive. The house is a block away from the golf course at De Anza Desert Club, currently being re-landscaped. While all that work is on-going at the course, an unidentified woman was seen by a gardener at a nearby house, taking a large cactus from the property.
When asked what she was doing, the woman reportedly stated that she was taking the plants and things that she wanted because stealing is not illegal in California. The gardener learned that she is not from Borrego Springs and hails from somewhere in Central or South America. He said that she drove a pickup truck and left with the cactus soon after he confronted her.
Several bushes are missing from the property and Sally Walsh provided a photograph of the missing section of pool tiles. Walsh was the first to notice that the guest house appeared to have been entered and saw that a bell was missing, pried from the side of the house.
We contacted a San Diego County Watch Commander, Lieutenant Gavin Lanning, who is a frequent visitor to Borrego Springs. LT Lanning provided information about theft and burglary – misdemeanor and felony. First, theft is illegal everywhere in the United States. The relevant sections of the California Penal Codes are 487 and 459.
As LT Lanning explained, theft under Penal Code 487 involves stealing property valued at less than $950 and is a misdemeanor crime. However, it is illegal to steal, no matter what the value. Stealing one plant likely would not meet the $950 threshold, but going back and stealing more plants can quickly add up and exceed that number – making the theft a felony. Theft of more than $950 is a felony.
Burglary under Penal Code 459 involves entering a property with the intent to commit a crime. It is a felony, no matter what the value of the property.
Potential consequences for theft may involve: paying restitution (having to pay for what was taken), return of the items, repayment if the items cannot be found, and arraignment before a judge. If the person committing the theft has a history of crimes, there is a strong potential for jail time. Theft of more than $950 dollars of property or burglary involve all of the above including the potential for incarceration in prison.
If anyone witnesses a theft taking place, they are asked to contact the Sheriff's office in Borrego Springs. The number to the dispatcher is: 760-767-5656.
LT Lanning stated that while theft of less than $950 may not involve a trip to the County Jail in San Diego immediately, it does mean that the thief will be charged with a misdemeanor and will have to go before a judge. Theft is illegal, no matter how small the value of the property.
In closing, there was a burglary committed several months ago at the De Anza Desert Club Golf Shop and the crime was solved. Criminals from Pine Valley were found and many of the stolen items were returned. Because the break in was with intent to commit a crime, the thieves were charged with felony burglary.