On Thursday, July 25th, a Castaic woman returned to her home to find it had been burglarized. Deputies were sent to investigate after the victim called, arriving at the scene at about 2:30pm. Per their preliminary investigation, it was determined that the burglary must have occurred at some point between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. that same day. The victim told deputies that her home had been ransacked and several items were missing– two of which being semi-automatic rifles with accompanying ammunition.
California Penal Code 487(d)(2) PC is a type of grand theft that is usually charged when the item stolen was a firearm. A few years back, before prop 47 was passed which reduced the severity of several crimes in an effort to help control California’s crisis of overcrowded prisons, any theft of a firearm was considered grand theft. Now, however, the theft of a firearm is only considered grand theft if it falls under one of the two following criteria:
The stolen firearms were worth more than $950
The defendant has a prior conviction of either a California sex crime that requires them to register as a sex offender, or one or more crimes on a short list of violent felonies.
The most common type of grand theft firearm encountered by law enforcement is that of grand theft firearm by larceny. It’s defined as taking possession of a firearm owned by someone else without the owner’s consent or that of one of their agents; by taking it, you intended to deprive the owner of its use either permanently or for long enough that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the firearm’s value; you moved the firearm a small distance and kept it for a period of time no matter how brief.
Larceny is more or less the most straightforward and to-the-point way that anyone steals anything. If you pick something up that’s owned by someone else and take it from them without their permission, with the intention of keeping it, you’re committing larceny.
There are other possible ways to steal a firearm and subsequently be charged with grand theft firearm, too, including theft by false pretenses. This occurs when the defendant knowingly and willingly deceives a gun owner or their agent by lying to them with the goal of getting them to allow the defendant to take possession of the firearm, and they do so because they relied on your false pretenses.
Whatever the case, grand theft firearm is a felony in California and the potential penalties include felony probation, 16 months to 3 years in California state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s considered a “serious felony” under California’s Three Strikes Law, and will therefore also result in a “strike” on the defendant’s record.
If a firearm is stolen but it does not fit the criteria to count as grand theft firearm, the crime will be charged as petty theft per the 2014 passage of prop 47. Petty theft is a misdemeanor that carries the possible penalties of up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.