Unlocked Cars and Armed Burglaries

Aiken O’Halloran and Banyai
Ft. Myers Criminal Defense Lawyers
Punta Gorda 941-639-6009
Sarasota 941-366-3506

April 4 2017

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Stolen guns from either a car or a home can increase the penalties and land a person in State prison.

In Florida, over two million people have concealed weapons licenses. The odds of a loaded firearm being found in a car are great. Teen burglars know this, and many times an unlocked car results in a gun being stolen. Teenagers often walk through neighborhoods late at night “pulling handles”. It is incredible how many people leave their car unlocked, and even more incredible how many people leave their pistol in the console or the glove compartment. Guns are worth money and a great find for the teenage or adult car burglar. In a recent Ft. Myers case, a teen burglar found a gun in the first car he entered and took it. That elevated the crime to “armed burglary” because he exited the car with a gun.

When he entered the next car, now with the gun, it made the next entry also an armed burglary and jacked the penalties through the roof. Even if the burglar is not an adult, this charge can have terrible consequences. Worse yet, if the gun is ever used in a crime of violence like armed robbery or aggravated assault with a firearm, the initial theft can have a ripple effect.

People think that you have to enter a vehicle or a house with a gun to make it an armed burglary.

Actually, if the gun is picked up while in the house, or if the gun is removed from the house, the increased penalties apply.

Guns have serial numbers and erasing a serial number on a gun is also a crime. Selling the gun or pawning it may result in yet another crime called “dealing in stolen property” or “defrauding a pawn broker”, both second degree felonies. An unlocked car can set in motion an entire series of crimes, sometimes first and second degree felonies. If the burglar has a prior felony, it can also result in the additional charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

As a criminal defense lawyer, over the years, I have seen a young life ruined by the temptation of a gun being left in a car. The bottom line is that everyone should remove the gun from the car at night. At a minimum the car should be locked at night. Make a point of actually checking your car each night before you go to bed. Actually pull the handle yourself. Some vehicles are accidentally left unlocked by sitting on your remote or hitting it in your purse. Go pull your handles…each night.


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