Two men who have been living in Mexico…and are suspected of frequently crossing into San Diego to commit crimes…were arrested last week on a variety of charges all having to do with auto theft and car burglaries, including possession of burglary tools. The men are being held without bail, as they were recently released from jail on similar charges and have an extensive criminal history relating to this type of conduct.
Auto burglary and auto theft are commonly understood crimes – one involves breaking into cars and the other involves stealing them. However, possession of burglary tools isn’t a crime that receives too much public attention. This offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. And, as you can imagine, possession of burglary tools is typically charged in connection with burglary or attempted burglary.
The types of tools or “other instruments” that qualify as burglary tools include items such as a crow bar, a “slim jim” or a picklock. Basically any device that helps you unlawfully enter a building, home or car will suffice. But possession of burglary tools isn’t a crime in and of itself, since most if not all burglary tools also have legitimate legal uses. It only becomes a crime when you possess these tools with the intent to commit a burglary.
If you are arrested during the commission of a burglary and possess burglary tools, that intent is pretty much established. If, however, you hadn’t yet entered the building, car or other structure, that intent would be more difficult for the prosecutor to prove. And without that criminal intent, a possession of burglary tools charge must be dismissed.