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2 South Florida men facing stolen property charges

Two Florida men were recently arrested in connection with the alleged theft of a number of vehicles in Stuart and Palm Beach counties. The case is especially interesting because one of the defendants appears to have never been told that he was involved in theft, though according to the arrest reports, he did say that he suspected he was dealing in stolen property.

One of the men is a 34-year-old from Sebastian who has apparently cooperated with investigators after his arrest, which took place following a brief car chase. He told police that he would take older-model cars for test drives and then exchange the wrong but similar-looking keys when he returned the vehicles to the dealers. He said he would come back to the car lots at night and use the correct keys to steal the cars, which he would then sell for scrap.

The Sebastian man and his alleged partner from Palm Beach Gardens were arrested on the same day near a scrap yard in Gifford. According to the Sebastian man, his partner came along to the scrap yard only to provide a ride back home. The Sebastian man said he didn't tell his friend the cars were stolen.

The situation brings up an important question: To what extent is a person implicated in theft if he or she is never made aware that the items in question were unlawfully taken?

The 34-year-old from Sebastian has been charged with a number of crimes, including five counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle. The Palm Beach Gardens man is facing a lesser charge of dealing in stolen property, and it will be interesting to see how each man puts forth a criminal defense that seeks a reduction or dismissal of charges.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, "Sebastian man charged in Stuart, Palm Beach County car lot thefts," James Kirley, April 19, 2012

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