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Police: Virginia man created home golf course with stolen goods

Several words describe stealing -- taking something of value that doesn't belong to you without permission and with the intention of keeping it. Depending on state laws, theft and larceny may be interchangeable terms. Burglary involves unlawful entry and robbery is theft using threat or force.

Newport News crimes like shoplifting frequently are considered petty thefts -- involving stolen items without great value. Criminal charges and punishments increase proportionately depending upon the value of the property. The severity of a theft crime also depends upon the way an item or items are stolen.

A Clintwood, Virginia, man faces criminal charges in two states for stealing items from a golf course just over the state line. The defendant worked as a volunteer at the facility. According to investigators, the man spent two years stealing golf balls, clothing and golf clubs.

Authorities learned the golf enthusiast used the stolen property to supply a private pro shop. The items were not for sale but were intended for personal enjoyment. The man's backyard was a downsized version of a golf course, complete with a driving range.

The majority of the recovered stolen property was used golf balls - two bathtubs full. Used golf balls were sold at the golf course for 50 cents each. The defendant now faces a charge of theft over $10,000 in Kentucky and a possession of stolen goods charge in Virginia.

In some theft cases, there may be no doubt property was taken. However, a criminal defense attorney may find room to dispute the market value of the items. A charge reduction is possible when stolen property can be devalued in the eyes of a court.

A provision of theft laws includes the intent to keep stolen goods permanently. It's up to prosecutors to show the defendant meant to keep the property forever. This is also difficult for a defense attorney to disprove.

Source: Lexington Herald-Leader, "Man accused of stealing from Letcher golf course allegedly set up own pro shop" Bill Estep, Jul. 14, 2014

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