Misdemeanor Charges for Stealing Road Signs as Souvenirs

Many teens see road signs as souvenirs that can be fun to hang from their bedroom walls, however stealing these signs can result in misdemeanor charges.

Illegal décor

Photo by: thecrazyfilmgirl

It isn’t uncommon to see the rooms of teenagers and even college students embellished with signs taken from Utah roads. While some signs are more popular than others, it seems any road sign in a room can be considered a “cool” thing to have.

Road signs

According to the Utah Driver Handbook, there are hundreds of different signs on the roads. These can include:

• Stop signs;
• Yield signs;
• Railroad warnings;
• Warning signs;
• Regulatory signs; and
• Signs informing drivers they are in a school zone.

These signs are posted for driver safety and instruction and without them, the risk of accident due to driver error increases. These signs frequently go missing however, and often appear in the rooms of local teens. Other signs that may find themselves missing on Utah roadways include street signs that happen to match a person’s name or a mile marker bearing a favorite number or signifying another number of importance to the thief.

Section 420

Photo by: Andrew

One of the most popular signs along Utah highways to go missing is mile marker 420. This number is celebrated among marijuana enthusiasts and is therefore common to wind up stolen repeatedly. Other states including Idaho, Colorado, and Washington have stopped replacing the stolen 420 signs and instead installed mile markers with the number 419.9 to discourage theft. Ironically enough, section 420 of Utah Code Chapter 8 part 4 warns Utah residents that stealing or damaging any road signs, including the 420 mile markers is illegal and punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

Common doesn’t mean legal

While possessing street signs is common, it doesn’t make it legal. Not only could removing or damaging road signs be seen as theft, the missing road signs could cause accidents with injuries that the sign thief could be held responsible for. Teens who wish to decorate with road signs are encouraged to purchase them from vendors and leave those installed on Utah roads alone.

Third Degree Felony for Theft of Watercraft

A 19 year old in Utah is facing a third degree felony for the theft or possession of stolen watercraft or outboard motor.

Shopping in the off season

Theft
Photo by: Robbie Sproule

19 year old Dillon Anthony Smith of Hurricane, Utah was booked into the Weber County Jail on multiple charges including two each of: criminal mischief; fail(ure) to appear on citation; and theft or vessel/motor in possession with reason to believe stolen. His total bail was posted at $14,250. It is not known what the 19 year old was doing so far away from home or why he would have a stolen watercraft or outboard motor on him in the month of February.

Theft

A person can be charged with theft if they physically took property that didn’t belong to them, received stolen property, or found property that was lost and didn’t return it. The theft of any property can result in criminal charges and the penalties are usually based on the value of the item(s). Utah Code 76-6-412 states that:

• Theft of property valued under $500 is punishable as a class B misdemeanor;

• Theft of property valued between $500 and $1,500 is punishable as a class A misdemeanor;

• Theft of property valued between $1,500 and$5,000 is punishable as a third degree felony; and

• Theft of property valued above $5,000 is a second degree felony.

Specialty theft items

Photo by: Mark Moz
Photo by: Mark Moz

The value of the watercraft of outboard motor that was stolen or possessed illegally was not noted; however whether it was worth $5,000 or $50, it wouldn’t have mattered. There are some items that may have a determined value, but have a set penalty depending on the type of property stolen.

• If the item stolen is a firearm, it is a second degree felony;

• If a horse, cow, sheep, goat, pig, poultry, or “fur-bearing animal raised for commercial purposes” is stolen, it is a third degree felony unless valued above $5,000;

• A stolen vehicle that is operable is punishable as a second degree felony;

• In the case of a stolen watercraft or outboard motor, the penalty is a third degree felony.

Prison term for theft of watercraft

Photo Courtesy of: Weber County Sheriff's Office
Photo Courtesy of: Weber County Sheriff’s Office

Smith is facing at least two third degree felonies which carry a possible prison term of zero to five years in prison each. Since he is over the age of 18, he will face his charges in the adult court system. A defendant who may have the mentality of a teenager with the physical age of an adult would benefit greatly by a criminal defense attorney who handles adult cases, but also is experienced in dealing with teens who may need more guidance in the judicial proceedings. Anyone in this situation is encouraged to seek such counsel.

Theft and Vandalism of Holiday Lawn Decorations

Throughout the last few weeks, there have been reported cases of vandalism as well as an uptick of theft of holiday lawn decorations throughout Utah. Many who are caught end up being juveniles.

No one is laughing…

Vandalism
Photo by: Allessandro Valli

What often starts as a simple prank can end up going too far. Many Utah kids find it humorous to rearrange holiday lawn decorations such as light-up deer into positions that can be seen as sexually-explicit. While the youth may think it is just a joke that can be undone in a matter of seconds, the decorations are often damaged during the prank which can be considered vandalism.

Intentional vandalism

While some instances of vandalism to decorations are non-intentional, other cases are deliberate such as trashing a holiday display or slashing the inflatable Christmas décor. Not only can those responsible face charges for criminal mischief and trespassing, they risk upsetting homeowners who can then become aggressive and dangerous if they catch the vandals in the act.

Theft

Photo by: Eric Kilby
Photo by: Eric Kilby

Beyond the steady amount of vandalism throughout the holidays, the amount of thefts to Christmas décor and lights are growing. A large majority of the items stolen from Utah residents’ yards this year turned out to be the new LED projection lights. These lights are placed a good distance away from homes in order to illuminate as much as the house as possible, yet this puts them in a place that is at the edge of property and easy to steal.

Misdemeanor charges

With so many projection lights being stolen as well as decorations being vandalized, many homeowners are installing cameras to catch the thieves and vandals. Unfortunately, those who are caught frequently end up being juveniles. It is important that Utah youth understand the repercussions that can come from vandalism and theft, and are encouraged to choose other holiday activities that will not result in criminal charges.

Teenagers Sneaking Soda Ends with Assault on an Officer

Three teenagers from southern Utah were arrested after one was caught sneaking soda and the others chose to intervene forcefully, one committing assault on an officer.

Those cups are for water only

Photo by: Bill Selak
Photo by: Bill Selak

An employee of a fast food restaurant in southern Utah contacted police after a 16 year old filled a cup of soda without purchasing it then knocked the employee down when the stolen drink was taken back and dumped. Officers located the teen at home, expecting to speak with the 16 year old and his parents. Instead they ended up calling over a dozen other officers for backup and arrested the 16 year old and two of his friends for an array of charges including assault on an officer.

Interfering and assault on an officer

Interfering and Assault on an Officer
Photo by: Chris Yarzab

When officer arrived at the home to speak with the teen, other people at the residence tried to intervene with the officer’s investigation. As the 16 year old was being led by police to the squad car, 19 year old Marcus Quiddam became agitated and chest bumped the officer. Not stopping there, Quiddam caused the officer to fall backward, resulting in minor injuries to the officer when he attempted to break his fall. The 16 year old and another aggravated minor were arrested for interfering with an arrest. Quiddam was also charged for his interfering as well as assault on an officer, a class A misdemeanor.

Rising tensions

Photo by: Kate Ausburn
Photo by: Kate Ausburn

With tensions rising between police officers and those they are sworn to serve and protect, many forget there are laws in place to protect the officers. Teens especially are at risk for crossing the line and facing charges as they can be emotionally driven as well as uneducated as to the specific laws regarding acting out toward law enforcement. It is important to teach children to continue to stand up for what they believe but to do it in accordance with the law.

Three Juveniles, One Adult Arrested for Vehicle Burglary Spree

Juvenile vehicle burglary spree
Photo: Kafziel/Wikimedia Commons

Four Cedar City residents, one adult and three juveniles, who were involved in a vehicle burglary spree spanning from August to October were taken into custody in December. On Tuesday, Jan. 20, the adult in the group, 19-year-old Reagan Gurbal accepted a plea agreement for four of the 26 original charges.

Vehicle Burglary from Cedar City to Southern California

According to an article in the Cedar City News, Gurbal seemed to be the ringleader of a group of underage accomplices in the vehicle burglary incidents that allegedly occurred between Aug. 15 and Oct. 18. Cedar City Police connected him to at least 19 of 40 burglaries that took place between those dates, and after being arrested, Gurbal admitted to burglarizing approximately 20-25 vehicles in just one night.

Gurbal allegedly provided a meeting spot for the “gang” to meet both before and after each night of vehicle burglary. At the end of the night, the group would split up the goods stolen during the night. Gurbal also allegedly provided a location to store the stolen goods, which included money, electronics, jewelry, and even firearms.

On Oct. 18, Gurbal and another suspect left Utah and met with other juveniles in Las Vegas, where the vehicle burglary spree continued into Southern California. On Oct. 22, Gurbal and three juveniles—a 14-year-old male, 16-year-old female, and 17-year-old male—were arrested in Victorville, CA.

Gurbal was originally charged with 26 different counts, mostly dealing with theft or burglary, however four of the charges dealt with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His plea agreement was for two class A misdemeanors of vehicle burglary, a third degree felony theft of receiving stolen property, and second degree felony theft charge. Details haven’t been released as to punishment for the juveniles involved in the case.

Vehicle Burglary Doesn’t Require Breaking In

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-204, any person who unlawfully enters any vehicle with intent to commit a felony or theft is guilty of vehicle burglary. However, what is important to understand is that it doesn’t require actually breaking into a vehicle; simply reaching through an open car window to take something that doesn’t belong to you falls under this criminal code.

As mentioned in regards to Reagan Gurbal, vehicle burglary is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 if committed by an adult. If your child has been charged with vehicle burglary, be sure to contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney.