Larceny is just a fancy legal word for theft, not to mention it is fun to say. It is the unlawful taking; carrying away; of personal property of another; with the specific intent to deprive the person of the property permanently. This crime is becoming more and more rampant in Massachusetts and the rest of the Nation due to the hard economic times we are facing and the fact that it is the holiday season. It may seem like a straight forward crime but there are a few things worth mentioning about it. (picture of larceny taken by Katedubya)
There are 2 main subsets to the crime of Larceny; lost or mislaid property, and false pretenses. First I will explain lost or mislaid property. One can be found guilty of larceny if they come upon lost or mislaid property of another. However, they will only be found guilty of larceny of the lost property of another if at the time they took the item, they had the intent of keeping the item for themselves and they knew or had a reasonable mean of ascertaining who the owner of said property is. For example; Lets say you are on the T and you see someone leave a book, umbrella or even a cellphone, ipod, or ipad (personally don’t know how someone could forget that considering how much they paid for it, but it does happen). If you go over and pick up the item, it is in your possession and control, and if you purposefully don’t try to return it to the person who just got off the train, you will be found guilty of larceny of said item. However lets say that you wanted to return that item to the person, but the T doors closed before you could give it back to the person who stepped off and now you are on your way to another station.
Well now it is almost impossible to find that person to give it back to them so you eventually just hold on to the item, meaning to give it over to MBTA officials for their lost and found. However you forget to hand it over and take it home with you. According to the state, you would not be found guilty of larceny of said item because at the time you took it, you intended to give it back to the owner; you didn’t intend to steal it, and unfortunately, or fortunately, you took the item home with you and made it yours. With that being said most ipods and ipads have the tracking device in them so the lost user can find them, not to mention pass codes on the devices. So in the end you might not have gotten a free ipod or ipad.
False pretenses is exactly how it sounds. It is where someone fraudulently and purposefully coaxes another to give them their property. The person committing the crime must have given a false statement of fact (legal oxymoron; there are a lot of those) to the person deceived and the deceived believed it and parted with the property because of it. For example, Bob tells Frank that he can convert Frank’s TV into a 3D TV and save him the trouble and money of buying one. Bob purposefully deceives Frank into believing that his TV is capable of 3D, it just needs to be worked on by Bob outside of Franks home. In fact Franks TV is not capable of 3D, it is impossible to make it so. Frank doesn’t know this of course, and allows Bob to take the TV with him, never to be seen or heard from again by Frank. Bob is guilty of larceny by false pretenses.
The crime of larceny is one of the oldest crimes around and is one to watch out for this holiday season, so please don’t trick or let anyone trick you into believing your TV can be turned into a 3D TV.