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Over 100 cell phones were stolen during the famed Coachella music festival this past weekend. As fans cheered on their favorite bands and enjoyed the festival, 36-Year-Old Reinaldo De Jesus Henao was deceptively stealing cell phones out of people’s pockets. Once people noticed their cell phones were missing, the victims of this scheme turned on their “Find my IPhone” Apps and everyone’s phone radar pointed to one man’s backpack.

Unfortunately for the suspect, he was unfamiliar with modern technology and had never heard of the “Find My IPhone” App. The 36-year old is facing some serious charges if found guilty; he would most likely be facing charges of Grand Theft under a criminal theory and Larceny in a civil context. The District Attorney would be responsible for bringing forth criminal charges against the 36-year old, and the victims of the theft would bring their own civil actions for their losses.

Over 100 cell phones were recovered from the bandit’s backpack!

Grand Theft is outlined in §487 of the California Penal Code and consists of various elements: “Money, Labor or Property with a value of over $950.00” and “property taken from the person of another.”  The value of more than 100 smart phones by one individual will more than meet the requirements for a Grand Theft claim. Generally, the criminal case will be brought first, while the victims will subsequently file their own civil actions.

Larceny would most likely be the cause of action to bring forth in a civil context. Larceny is the  “taking and carrying away of the tangible personal property of another with the intent to deprive him or her of its possession permanently.” The Coachella Bandit is obviously well aware that he has obtained stolen property and chose to withhold that information from his victims. Over 100 cell phones were recovered from the bandit’s backpack and there are no signs he had just found the phones to return them, rather, he clearly intended to keep the phones.

The Coachella Bandit could be found guilty of Grand Theft and face some serious prison time!

Although the phones were from various carriers, unfortunately for the bandit, he did not know that they could all be traced back to him. Felonies can result in one to three years in prison solely on the charge of grand theft; the 36-year old could face a longer than normal sentence if he has any prior offenses. Any civil action brought against the 36-year old for Larceny can result in some sort of monetary compensation for the victims. Let’s hope Coachella weekend #2 is more about the music and love, and less about the greed and deceit.

-Hasan Barakat and Kevin Lipton, ESQ

Lipton Legal Group, A PC – Beverly Hills, CA