While the crime rate overall has decreased in State College over State Patty's Day weekend, it doesn't mean that serious crimes do not occur. The police received reports of items missing from the Meridian II apartment building, so the police contacted the realty company that manages the building and reviewed video footage. The video shows two men walking hallways, checking doors to see if they were open, disappearing into some apartments, and presumably removing items from the vacant apartments. In order to try and identify the men, the police have released the video to local media outlets, including the Centre Daily Times online newspaper. The police released this video with the hope of catching these thieves, and there are several clear frames of these men's faces, so they will be easily identified by any friends or family who might see the video.
Law Enforcement is Watching
Cases of burglary are not the only time that police make use of videos. Most, if not all, of the State College apartment buildings have high tech video surveillance equipment throughout common areas of the common buildings. When something goes wrong in the apartment, such as minor offenses like public urination, property destruction, or fire extinguisher discharges, to more major offenses like assault, burglary, or drug distribution, the property managers of the apartments readily give the police access to the surveillance videos.
I have represented many people over the years that were charged with Public Urination, Criminal Mischief, Assault, and Delivery of Drugs that were caught on apartment videos. By assisting the police with the criminal investigations, the apartment management companies are more likely to catch the people that caused damage within the building, and a criminal conviction normally requires the person to pay restitution, meaning payment for any costs or expenses used to fix damage. Aside from restitution, State College judges routinely permit the apartment buildings to charge a video fee of approximately $300.00 in a case involving video surveillance, so the apartment management companies are able to recoup some of the money that was spent on installing the video equipment.
Burglary Charges in Pennsylvania
In this particular case, the thieves are facing very serious charges of Burlgary. In order for a person to be charged with Burglary in Pennsylvania, the police must have evidence that the person committed a criminal trespass, meaning they went into a place without permission, and that the person had the intent to commit a crime after the entry. A Burglary charge does not require that a person actually breaks into a dwelling or house. Instead, a trespass to support a burglary charge can arise even for unlocked and open doors. Many people may question how a prosecutor can prove what a person's intent. In this type of case, the prosecutor would argue that there was circumstantial evidence that the people entered the apartment with the intent to steal because they left with stolen items. Basically, if they didn't intend to steal, then why did they go into the vacant apartments in the first place? A Burglary charge like this in Pennsylvania is a first-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years of incarceration and a fine of $25,000.00. If these thieves are Penn State students, they would also have to deal with sanctions from the Office of Student Conduct. Given the severity of the charge, the correlating allegations of misconduct with Penn State would be similarly severe, and the proposed sanction would likely be expulsion, and the only issue is whether or not Penn State would ever allow the men to return and graduate. If these men are identified from the video, they had better hire an experienced State College criminal defense attorney.