Legal Question in Criminal Law in Missouri


If someone moved leaving two cars that were locked with stuff inside both cars. Then decided to come back 8-9 months later to find both cars and the contents gone would this be considered stealing. They are saying they have a note from the landlord stating he has given permission to park the cars in his yard until they decide to return. If he told a different story to another party just to get the property out of his yard. The other person made a call to try and locate the people but failed. Then giving the property away without permission to get it out of his yard. Is this concerned stealing? Or abandonment?

Asked on 11/20/03, 9:57 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony Smith LawSmith

Re: Stealing

The biggest determinates are whether the landlord gave the person permission to leave the cars on his property, if the landlord had the authority to do this, and who it is that the owner of the vehicles is going after.

If there was no permission from the landlord or renter, then the property probably could be considered abandoned. But, this would be factual question for a judge or jury to decide, not a clear question of law, as to the number of months left, or anything like that.

If the landlord has rented the land to someone, the landlord may not have authority to allow sopemone else to store vehicles on the land, during the term of the lease. The writen lease agreement could probably determine this.

If the person who owns the vehicles is claiming that the lessee or landlord wrongfully took possession and control of their vehicles and the contents, then the first two criteria, described above, would determine whether theft or conversion has occurred. If the vehicle owner(s) are claiming that someone other than the landlord or lessee took the vehicles or contents therein, then it is a general question of theft or conversion. The amount of time that someone leaves personal property on the realty of another has little or no bearing on the ability of a third party to take possession and control of that poperty. Except for innocent third parties who purchase the property, without knowing of its belonging to someone other than the seller.

These are general answers because the situation was described generally. How these things play out in the view of the police and civil courts is dependent upon the mass of factual details unique to the situation. Therefore, a specific theft or no theft answer is not possible. If you are being accused, (or the one who left the vehicles behind) I suggest you consult an attorney in your area to look at all of the facts of your matter, so that you can determine your best course of action.

Good Luck,

Tony Smith

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Answered on 11/21/03, 8:12 am

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