Since You Asked: Burglary arrests are shoplifters
Q: In the Appeal-Democrat police blotter, I've noticed numerous burglary arrests in the 1100 block of Harter Parkway in Yuba City. Are people breaking into vehicles or are they breaking into businesses? What's going on?
A: They're almost always shoplifters.
Sure, some times burglars break into cars and businesses in the area, but it's rare compared to the number of people that are caught with allergy pills and DVDs stuffed in their coats.
Section 459 of the California Penal Code defines burglary as, entering a building with "intent" to steal.
Intent is the key factor when determining whether the crime is burglary or shoplifting, Yuba City police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey explained.
It breaks down like this:
If you're standing outside Walmart and you decide to steal the Garth Brooks box set before walking in, that's burglary.
If you're already inside the store, walking down an aisle and suddenly decide to put the Garth Brooks box set under your shirt, that's shoplifting.
(Either way, you're going to jail as the guy who failed to steal the Garth Brooks box set. That's not a story you're going to want to tell your cellmate.)
There are many ways police can prove intent, mostly involving circumstantial evidence like having no money or credit cards when you entered the store or bringing in an empty bag and then filling it with 11 copies of "Mad Men" season two.
Many times thieves simply admit they were trying to steal something because that's easier than coming up with a decent fictional explanation for needing diet pills, energy drinks and an electric toothbrush inside your pants.
Thefts occur several times every week at both the Yuba City and Linda Walmarts.
Last year, Yuba City police made 48 burglary arrests at Walmart and another 68 shoplifting arrests, Pavey said.
Exact numbers for the Linda Walmart were not available, but Yuba County sheriff's Sgt. Wencel Kemp said there are times when deputies take multiple reports in a single day.
Kemp said Walmart has unusually effective security guards that most people never notice. These mostly invisible Walmart ninjas are called "Loss Prevention Officers," which sounds more scientific. They're quite good at their jobs, too. They wear plain clothes and utilize vast networks of security cameras, which makes swiping stuff from the store much more difficult.