Buying Stolen Stuff…Is That So Wrong?

flea_market.jpgEverything is for sale these days, just check craigslist. And here in Orlando, we have one of the more active “used goods” communities. As you might expect, stolen items make their way into for sale listings. So, what happens if you buy such an item?

Lucky for you, I have an example case ready to go. It’s Canady v. State, 2011 WL 3903095 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). The case began with the Fort Lauderdale Police department going undercover to make arrests for dealing in stolen property. The court notes that the detective “was dressed in disheveled clothing to pass as a drug addict. He carried around with him a brand new Xbox 360 videogame system and a car radio in a tattered garbage bag.” As you might expect, Canady was sucked into buying both items for only $60, plus another $40 in crack cocaine (the detective looked like he could use some crack, Canady was just trying to help a brother out, but no good deed goes unpunished….).

Canady was convicted of delivery of cocaine and dealing in stolen property, receiving a two year prison sentence. At trial, evidence was brought out that Canady was in a hurry to complete the transaction because his boss had warned him previously not to purchase items from the local drug dealers. But the appeals court overturned the conviction, because the state never proved that Canady intented to sell the items, holding that “[s]imply proving that an individual purchased stolen property is insufficient to support a conviction for dealing in stolen property, which requires proof of a subsequent actual sale or the intent to sell later.” Id.

So, buyer beware. But if there’s a problem, you know who to call.