El Camino College Area, Stealing Traffic Signal, Diversion

Our client, age 20, and his friend, age 19, had been drinking in their apartment.  They were college students and enjoying a beer or two.  They then decided to steal a traffic light to put it in their apartment because they thought it would look cool, kind of a trophy of their audacity to climb up on a public pole and steal something quite big in public.  They imagined how anyone who came into their apartment would ask, “How did you do that?” with awe and admiration.

Synopsis:  Client caught stealing traffic light fixture, charged with attempted petty theft, possession of burglary tools (P.C. § 466) and  VC § 21464(a); case resolved for diversion and dismissal.

The two gathered up some tools, a ladder and carried their beer with them to a North Torrance intersection.  It was about 1:00 a.m.  The 19-year old proceeded to climb the light pole with some tools.  Our client, with his beer in hand, stood below.

As luck would have it, just as the 19-year old scaled the traffic light, an El Camino Police Officer drove by.  He kept driving, proceeding perhaps a half-mile further.  Our client thought the cop may not have observed the two.

Instead, the cop returned to the scene, after the 19-year old had already removed a few screws from the light fixture in preparation for lowering it to our client.

The two young men were promptly arrested and taken to the Torrance Police Station.  They were ultimately released and then charged in Torrance Superior Court with attempted petty theft (Penal Code §§ 664/484(a)), tampering with a traffic control device (Vehicle Code § 21464(a)) and possession of burglary tools (Penal Code § 466).  There was no charge related to the alcohol.

The client and his father, as well as his mother, contacted Greg Hill & Associates.  Greg then met with the client at the Torrance jail within about an hour, explaining what could happen and asking the client about the basic facts.  The client was then bailed out by his father and the two met with Greg.

Greg listened to the story about what had happened and told the father and son what he hoped to do to resolve the case.

Greg then met with the Torrance City Prosecutor, who was quite stern about the client’s intention to render an intersection a dangerous place once the very heavy traffic light were removed.   However, she also took into account our client’s youth and the fact that he did an online shoplifting prevention course, which Greg recommended he do (and he did) and his college plans.  Greg brought in the client’s college class schedule and grades.

The Torrance City Prosecutor relented, offering our client the opportunity to earn a dismissal by paying a court fine of $300, plus penalties and assessments (about $1,400 total), perform ten days of community service, pay a $423 booking fee to the City of Torrance and $234.84 in restitution to the City of Torrance for the damage to the light fixture.  Once our client completed these tasks, his plea to the attempted petty theft was withdrawn and the case was dismissed.

The client was happy that this crazy night would not result in a conviction on his record and that the case was dismissed.

For more information about the issues in this theft offense case summary, click on the following articles:

  1. Conviction Reversed for Possession of Burglary Tools (Penal Code § 466)

  2. What Is Diversion, Delayed Entry of Plea and Deferred Entry of Judgment?

  3. AB 2124 – The New Pilot Program for Diversion of First-Time, Low Level Offenders in Los Angeles County Only

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