Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation reforming a considerable amount of important laws in the Massachusetts criminal justice system this past April. So, how have those changes been going, on a day-to-day basis in the courts? At only 90 days out from the bill’s signing, it’s a little hard to say, but here’s a quick review of how the principal changes will affect day-to-day prosecutions in Massachusetts courts.

Bail reform

This is one of the more controversial aspects of the bill Gov. Baker signed. Historically, when a prosecutor requested bail, a judge was required to take into consideration over a dozen separate factors in setting bail, partially including:

  • The Nature and Circumstances of the Offense: How serious is it?
  • Family Ties. Does the defendant have any?
  • Employment.
  • Length Of Residence. This is important, as a defendant who’s been living in Massachusetts for many years is much more likely to not ‘jump bail,’ than is someone who has no residence here..
  • Prior Court Defaults. Has the defendant ‘skipped bail’ previously?

One thing that a judge was never required to consider, though, was a defendant’s ability to pay. Now, the new law requires that judges take into consideration the defendant’s ability to pay a given amount of bail – and furthermore, the judge is now required to justify in writing instances where bail is set high enough to prevent a defendant’s release. That provision in the bail reform provision of the criminal justice reform bill, was triggered principally by an August 2017 ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court that ordered lower judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay a given amount of bail. That decision angered more conservative members of the Legislature and the public, and I can understand why. Continue reading

As everyone knows, self-serve checkout stations at supermarkets continues to grow exponentially, even at retail store outlets that aren’t purely supermarkets like Stop & Shop, Star Markets or Shaw’s.  Personally, I don’t like them as I find them too impersonal, and their expansion will continue to cut jobs in that industry.  But the companies that own these store chains can cut a lot of labor costs – and that’s their goal, for good or ill.

On the “ill” side of things, though, this technology has brought about an increase in crime – specifically, shoplifting charges.   More than one study has determined that the increased use of self-service checkouts correlates with an increase in revenue losses.  One such wide-ranging study of retailers in the U.S., Britain and other European countries found that use of this technology produced an average revenue loss rate of 4 percent of gross sales.  Since the profit margin of most supermarket retailers hovers around 3 percent, that almost makes use of self-service checkouts counter-productive from an earning standpoint. Continue reading

As I write this post, Thanksgiving Day is winding down. Another exercise in mad dashes and massive traffic jams, to get together to give thanks for what we have. (Though most people use it as an excuse to gorge themselves, watch football, and avoid arguments with family members.) Regardless, if you got through this day unscathed from any of the above risks, I’m afraid you may not be in the clear just yet.

Not if you plan on joining the mad throngs descending on the retailers who run “Black Friday” sales. Black Friday, of course, is so named for the fact that the sales volumes typically racked up at large retailers on this day, create large profits leaving these stores “in the black” –earning profits – instead of “in the red” – losing profits. But aside from accounting jargon, this day should be called black for another good reason: The dark, disturbed impulses it brings out in so many people – in the name of “getting a good deal” on some ridiculous material purchase (did someone say the latest iPhone? 60” Flat screen TV?) Continue reading

The holidays and the Christmas season are over, and aside from retailers adding up their sales and profits, they’re also noticing something else: A sharp spike in Massachusetts shoplifting charges were filed during this past holiday season.

According to The Global Retail Theft Barometer, a survey of worldwide retailers, and estimated $1.8 billion was shoplifted from retailers across the U.S in the approximately 4 weeks prior to Christmas Day. Unfortunately, an increase in shoplifting is not uncommon over the holidays. Mobbed stores and distracted clerks create an environment that makes it easier to slip something slim like a tablet computer into a jacket or pocketbook, or hide a clothing item underneath a coat. Unemployment and economic stress can contribute to a spike in these crimes, but people steal everything from food to luxuries.

Many experts claim the economy has little to do with shoplifting. They claim that shoplifters steal for a variety of reasons that have little relation to the economy. Some people do it for some kind of rush or thrill. For others, it has more to do with filling a psychological emptiness. “Shoplifting is generally a crime of opportunity and opportunities abound at the holiday,” says Barbara Staib, a spokeswoman for the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, a nonprofit that provides shoplifting prevention education programs.

It’s the holiday season, and it’s gotten here faster than you can say, “Black Friday.”

Shopping malls – and their parking lots – are famous for being places where all types of crimes can occur – everything from auto thefts, to car-jackings, to thefts of shopping bags filled with purchases, to assault and battery. As a Massachusetts larceny crimes lawyer, I’ve seen more than my share of Massachusetts larceny and Massachusetts robbery charges, and I have some tips to help everyone stay safe at the mall when shopping during the Christmas season.

1). Try to park in a well-lit area. Of course, most shoppers compete for parking spaces during the holidays, and feel lucky to find a space anywhere. But try to find a spot near the store entrances, or in a well-traveled area that looks busy with people – and not in a deserted area in the back of the mall, or in the dark. If you think you might forget your location, use your smartphone to take a shot of your car and a landmark that it’s near.

Here’s an interesting scenario that, as a Dedham, Massachusetts shoplifting lawyer, I can assure you plays out at Massachusetts supermarkets every day.

Nowadays, in most of the larger supermarket chains, the stores have self-service checkouts. At Stop&Shop, for example, there are even “Scan It” devices at the entrance, which allow shoppers to not only scan their items in the aisles, but bag them right then and there.

The result? Some say that this attempt at the “honor system” is anything but that, with a lot of people sneaking their merchandise under the radar and shoplifting. How to do it? Some people simply place their groceries into reusable bags without scanning them, right in the aisle, or at the checkout counter. For some, it can be very tempting. In fact the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention reports that this particular shopping method makes it much easier for shoplifters to steal items. According to their research, shoplifters bilk more than $13 billion in stolen goods from retailers annually. That figure amounts to in excess of $35 million per day.

Here’s a true story that might interest anyone who might consider committing the crime of shoplifting in Massachusetts. Perhaps the following story might make someone so inclined to think twice.

A few months ago, a man visited the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, which houses a nice variety of high-end stores. He went into a jewelry store, and asked the sales clerk to show him a $13,000 diamond-studded watch. After the item was placed on the counter, the man grabbed the watch without paying for it and ran outside the store, to his car. As it happened, the Wrentham Outlets had just added new security cameras, and they were able to record the man’s motor vehicle license plate. It led to his arrest. Now, without a doubt, he needs a Wrentham, Mass. shoplifting lawyer.

Recently, according to a story in The Boston Globe, several malls in the Boston area have installed new security cameras in common areas, and in parking lots, in order to crack down on shoplifting and other crimes, including assault and battery. What does this mean? It means that if you attempt to shoplift at any of several Massachusetts malls or shopping centers, the odds are that you will be caught and face Massachusetts shoplifting charges.

There are any number of reasons why people shoplift. However, in my experience, as a Boston Massachusetts shoplifting lawyer, one of the most interesting reasons has to do with people who feel that life has simply let them down. They have experienced sorrow and loss – say, the loss of a job, or a relationship — and want to “take something back” from a world that they feel has somehow done them wrong. In many cases, non-professional shoplifters are experiencing depression at the time that they commit the crime of Massachusetts shoplifting. The facts back this up. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, and I’m paraphrasing here, people who shoplift experience a “high” that typically alleviates their feelings of anger, boredom, depression, deprivation and frustration. When most people shoplift, it’s not because they are broke and don’t have the money to pay for the item – it’s usually because the act of shoplifting, and the “high” it produces, is experienced as a lift, or a reward, that they feel they are entitled to, or need.

The NASP has also found the following statistics:

• Annually, there are in excess of $13 billion worth of goods stolen from retail establishments. That amounts to, per day, more than $35 million in shoplifted goods.

It seems that the desire in some people to scam and to scheme displays itself all to often. The latest illustration of this on a grand scale in Massachusetts started when a conductor on a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter train happened to notice that an MBTA pass appeared to have a different color than usual. The rider admitted that he bought it on Craig’s List. That was enough to fuel suspicions, and proved to be the tip of the iceberg, in which three people have already been charged with a series of crimes that include Massachusetts larceny over $250; Massachusetts conspiracy to commit larceny; making false entries in corporate books; and conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property.

So far, this incident seems to be the biggest fare-evasion scheme in MBTA history. The three defendants who have been charged so far have all pled guilty. They are accused of being part of an elaborate scam in which millions of dollars in illegal monthly passes were sold to riders on Craigslist. Defendants in criminal cases sometimes choose to plead guilty instead of electing a trial, which they are entitled to, when the evidence that the Commonwealth (prosecution) has against them is so strong, that agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, is the legally and strategically preferred option.

The toughest sentence of these three went to Andres Townes, the alleged ringleader who was arrested in May 2011. Mr. Townes was accused of printing in excess of 20,000 MBTA passes at a Beverly, Mass., facility, while he was working as an MBTA sub-contractor. Mr. Townes admitted to printing $4 Million worth of phony passes. He was sentenced to three years in state prison.

The next time you’re in a car, and you are stopped by a police officer, make sure to ask to see the policeman’s badge — through the window. As a Norfolk County criminal defense attorney, I know — You can never be too sure of who you are dealing with. People can fairly easily impersonate a police officer, to your detriment. It is a serious offense, despite what you have seen in movies and on television.

This past week, an Everett man was charged with a wealth of criminal offenses, including allegedly impersonating a Boston police officer. The man, John Perry Carrington, 44, was arrested on Monday around 12:30AM. Here’s what allegedly occurred: A Dorchester couple was reported to be driving in their car, enroute to purchase medicine for an asthmatic child. While driving, they allegedly made a U-turn and cut off Carrington’s car. Carrington then allegedly blocked their vehicle with his car, flashed them some sort of police badge, identified himself as a police officer, and told the couple he thought they were driving drunk.

Things are alleged to get even worse from that point. Carrington is reported to then have seized the couple’s cellphones, and told the couple he would follow them home, where he allegedly wanted to be paid $100 in cash, so that they could supposedly avoid a police citation. Reportedly, he even forced the couple to stay in their car at their home on Callender street in Dorchester, despite their requests to provide the medication to a child suffering an asthma attack.

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