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Man charged in cigarette crime spree

A Hollywood, Florida man is facing multiple theft charges arising out of a string of burglaries from Broward County convenience stores. The 35-year-old man allegedly broke into at least eight stores earlier this year and stole cartons of cigarettes. When police arrested the man he was already in custody on other charges.

Police claim the man left his fingerprints at one of the burglary scenes. They later matched the man's vehicle to one seen on a surveillance video. When questioned by investigators, he allegedly admitted to involvement in only one of the break-ins, and said he committed the thefts in order to support his drug habit. Police say they are still seeking an accomplice who was allegedly involved in the burglaries along with the accused man.

According to police, the first burglary occurred at about 3 a.m. when a supermarket in North Lauderdale was hit. The two burglars allegedly hit seven more stores in several South Florida cities over the next few days. A surveillance video allegedly shows two men breaking a window with a brick and then leaving with cartons of cigarettes.

Although in this case law enforcement authorities claim to have a lot of evidence implicating the man, he is still entitled to a defense. It is significant that his alleged confession related to only one of the burglaries. Surveillance videos are often grainy and out of focus; they are not always reliable as a means of identification.

In a case like this a defense lawyer will also evaluate the circumstances of the alleged confession. Under the U.S. Supreme Court's Miranda ruling, before the police subject a suspect to questioning they must inform him of his right to an attorney. If the police continue questioning after an accused person asks for an attorney, all statements made after the request for counsel will be inadmissible in court.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Investigators smoke out accused cigarette thief," Ihosvani Rodriguez, Nov. 14, 2012

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