Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts robbery case discussing whether the lower court properly granted the defendant’s motion to suppress. Ultimately, the appellate court concluded that the lower court erred in applying settled legal principles, and it reversed the granting of the defendant’s motion to suppress.Legal News Gavel

The Facts of the Case

Police were investigating a series of robberies that occurred at various Dunkin Donuts restaurants. The first robbery occurred on July 8, 2015. Witnesses reported that the robber was a black man, about 180 to 200 pounds, who wore a stocking cap and drove a small blue car. Video surveillance showed the man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

Later on July 8, another Dunkin Donuts store was robbed. Witnesses gave police a similar although not identical description. The store manager told police that the robber drove up to the drive-thru window, told the employee at the window not to push the panic button, and then reached in through the window to open the cash register. Video of the incident showed the robber was wearing plastic gloves and had on a distinctive sweatshirt.

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Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion in a Fourth Amendment privacy case that will have a major effect on Massachusetts criminal investigations. The court’s holding was that police are required to obtain a warrant before they retrieve cell-phone tracking data from a cellular phone provider.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The case related to a police investigation of a robbery that allegedly involved several people. The police made four arrests, and one of those men told police about several others who were also involved in the robbery. The man gave police the phone numbers of several of the alleged conspirators, including the defendant.

Police took the defendant’s cell phone number, and filed a request under the Stored Communications Act to obtain his cell phone records. That Act allows for cell providers to hand over customer information when the government can show that there is a “reasonable belief” that it is “relevant and material” to an ongoing investigation. Chief among the information sought was historical location data of where the defendant’s cell phone had been over the past 127 days. The information was given to police, and it provided them with 12,898 location points, all of which were around where the alleged robbery occurred.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts robbery case discussing when a police officer can stop someone against their will and search them. The court ultimately determined that the officer who stopped the defendant possessed the requisite reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop-and-frisk, and thus the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

Four students of Northeastern University were allegedly robbed at gunpoint. The students gave police a description of their alleged assailants. Specifically, the description given by one of the victims was that they were robbed by three men. The man with the gun was reported to be a Black man with a black hoodie and blue jeans, the second man was a heavyset Hispanic man wearing a black hoodie and a Colorado Rockies hat, and the third man was either Black or Hispanic, but the victim could not recall the man’s clothing.

Police responded to the scene, and, within a minute or so, police noticed three men walking out of a nearby home matching the description given by the victim. As the police officer approached the men, they hurriedly went back into the house. The police officer walked up to the house and knocked on the door. The mother of one of the men answered and let the officer inside.

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Legal News GavelA recent Massachusetts robbery case arose when the defendant was convicted of armed burglary, masked armed robbery, and armed assault in a dwelling. The events giving rise to the case occurred one night when the victims, a couple, woke up to find that there were three masked men standing by their bed, screaming and pointing a gun toward them. A man with a crowbar asked where the money and drugs were. The victims showed the three men their valuables, which included $2,000 in cash, a guitar, and a gaming system. The female victim told the men where her debit card was and gave the man with the crowbar her PIN.

At trial, the defendants argued the evidence was not enough to prove their identity beyond a reasonable doubt. The Commonwealth didn’t have direct eyewitness identification testimony, but it submitted evidence about what the robber with the crowbar was wearing, including a sweatshirt with a Champion logo, and that the skin of his that did show was dark. The surveillance video showed a man with dark skin and a sweatshirt with a Champion logo using the victim’s debit card and PIN to withdraw cash from an ATM near the victim’s house after the robbery. The sweatshirt the defendant wanted to bring after his arrest was also a black Champion sweatshirt.

The female victim found a photograph of a dark-skinned masked man on the defendant’s Facebook page and said that the mask and skin color were almost identical to the robber carrying a crowbar. The defendant was related to the male victim and was familiar with the home.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Massachusetts theft case, the defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and armed robbery while masked. The case arose when the victim of the robbery came to his brother’s convenience store where he worked. He was carrying a bag with $35,000 in cash that was needed to pay lottery winners and address other store business. He believed a customer was coming in behind him, but it turned out to be a robber wearing black clothes, a mask, and gloves. The robber demanded the bag.

The victim tried to avoid giving it to the robber by throwing it on the store counter. The robber hit him with a crowbar, grabbed the bag, and ran away. The victim called 911. The police came to the scene and looked at the surveillance video recording. They called the detective unit and canine unit to track the robber. A trooper came with a canine that tracked the scene for a mile. The dog stopped at the door of a building. The trooper believed this meant that there was something behind the building door. He and other police officers arrested the defendant in a basement apartment at the building.

Another detective reported to the scene and was given a description of the suspect as being light-skinned and black-haired and wearing a heavy brown jacket with a hoodie and a woolen cap. The detective rode around searching for the suspect. Another detective told him to go to the street where the building was. The defendant was on the street walking his dog, and he went into the address where the canine had signaled. The police entered and found multiple people, including the defendant. The defendant was the only person who matched the description.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Massachusetts theft decision, the court considered a motion to suppress. The case arose when a sergeant of the police department joined other officers in surveilling a car that was the subject of an investigation related to multiple breaking and entering crimes. The police department of another neighboring town had asked for assistance to see whether the car would lead the cops to evidence related to the breaking and entering crimes.

The police cars were unmarked and changed places to avoid being detected in the relevant communities. One officer saw the car at issue go down a dead-end road and make a U-turn before going in the original direction. He followed, and the car got onto Route 9, going west. There were two men in the car, and the officer believed the driver was the defendant, whom he’d known in high school.

Earlier that day, a sergeant looked up the defendant’s license and found it to be suspended. He called another police department, and the information was confirmed. The sergeant pulled up next to the car and recognized the defendant. He was worried he’d lose the car and told a detective he’d asked to assist that he would stop the defendant. He stopped the defendant’s car and pulled him out. The other police officers arrived 3-5 minutes later.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Massachusetts armed robbery case, a defendant appealed his conviction for armed robbery while masked. The case arose from an armed robbery of a gas station. The defendant, a regular customer, came in at 9 p.m. and bought $10 worth of gas. He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Ten minutes later, a man came into the store in jeans, a sweatshirt, and a facemask. Later, the second man was revealed to be same as the first — the defendant.

The defendant pointed a gun at one of the gas station attendants and told him to get money. He also pointed the gun at the other attendant and told him to get money. He told the first attendant to walk around the counter and stand by the other one. The second attendant opened the register and handed him the cash from inside it. The first attendant recognized the voice of the defendant and identified him to police later.

The robbery was recorded by surveillance cameras. The jury was shown a video recording of what happened, including the part in which the defendant bought gas just before the robbery. The defendant and the robber were wearing the same jeans and shoes, and they had the same height and weight.

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Legal News GavelA recent Massachusetts appellate case arose when a cop stopped to get coffee during his patrol hours. While in line, there was a commotion in which the defendant argued with the cashier. The cop didn’t hear the discussion but saw the defendant hurry away. After talking to the cashier, the cop followed the defendant and asked to talk to her.

The defendant was holding a $20 bill when she turned to answer the cop. Since he thought there was a problem with the bill, he asked if he could look at it and then called for backup. Upon being asked, the defendant said she’d gotten the bill while eating at a pizza parlor the previous night. The cop went back to the donut shop to talk to the cashier and then issued a summons to the defendant.

The defendant was charged for possessing counterfeit currency. An agent testified that the $20 bill was counterfeit, and he could tell because it wasn’t cut correctly so that the color was white at the edges, and there weren’t tiny red and blue fibers, nor a security strip running down the side of the bill, nor a watermark of Andrew Jackson. He testified it was a low quality counterfeit but also noted that the red flags to show a bill is counterfeit can be difficult to see if you aren’t searching for them. About $60-80 million in counterfeit currency is being circulated at any time.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Massachusetts case, the defendant appealed from convictions for receiving stolen property and trafficking in heroin. The case arose when the police received a report that someone had stolen a generator from a construction site. The surveillance video depicted a truck leaving the construction site with the generator. A few days later, the police were told that the replacement generator was also stolen from the site. The video showed that the same truck took the equipment and traveled onto Route 93.

About a week later, a construction company reported to a police department in Dedham that a trailer-mounted generator was stolen from a construction site. The generator had a wireless GPS tracking device that showed it was in Boston. When the police went to where it was located, they saw it was signaling in a parking area and a three-car garage. The officers peered through the fence around the parking area and saw the truck, as well as a generator that had the name of the second construction company on the side. The officers got a search warrant for the property and came back with a Boston police officer.

The Boston police officer also got a warrant to search a truck in Dorchester for construction equipment believed to be stolen. The police officer’s affidavit said he’d first come into the property with police officers under their search warrant for the stolen generator. He got another search warrant to investigate a different theft of a generator from a Boston construction site. On location, he got information from neighbors and also saw a metal stabilizer that would hold up a trailer.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Massachusetts appellate case, the defendant was found guilty of breaking and entering in the daytime, intending to commit a felony in violation of MGL chapter 266, § 18, as well as larceny of property over $250, a violation of MGL chapter 266, § 30 (1). The defendant appealed on the ground that the evidence was not enough to support the convictions.

The case arose from a 2013 break-in and robbery at a market. At trial, a store proprietor testified she’d closed the store at 6:00 p.m. one night and then come back after being told there was a break-in. She saw that somebody had broken the side window to get in and that $400-500 worth of cigarettes were stolen.

At the trial, police officers also testified. One testified he got there with his partner early in the morning, and when they got there, two men who lived next door to the market told them the front window to the store was missing. The officer noticed that a window pane had been taken off and was set against the door. Photographs showed that plexiglass was propped against the front door.

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