Stealing is a common practice in our society, and although measures have been put in place to prevent it, the efforts have proved futile. Even imprisonment fails to deter thieves. Some people argue that stealing something of less value is a lesser crime, which is not the case because the consequences are still the same.
For the ardent bike owner, you may put the necessary security measures to protect your bike from theft, but there is always room for error, and there are people out there waiting for the ideal moment to get hold of that precious bike without your consent. What happens when they get caught? I will explicitly cover the topic ‘can you go to jail for stealing a bike?’ to help you take the necessary steps when your bicycle gets stolen.
Can You Go To Jail For Stealing A Bike?
You can go to jail for stealing a bike, but it depends on the value of the bike. There exists a minimum amount for stealing to get considered as a felony. In most states, the figure ranges from $500 to $1000. For example, if the felony limit in your state is $500 and your bike is worth $400, the individual who steals your bike only commits a misdemeanor.
Consequently, if someone steals your bike rack or bike, and the bike value is under the state limit, they get imprisoned in jail for three months or less or pay a fine of not more than $400. If the culprit is a first-time offender, they are unlikely to get imprisoned, but they will get fined. However, it is within the sole discretion of the jury.
On the other hand, if you get caught with a stolen bike and fail to prove that you acquired the bicycle legally, you get charged with possession of stolen property (felony). Felony charges are severe because they accrue serious repercussions, both immediate and long-term. You may get huge fines, a permanent criminal record, and imprisonment. Long-term consequences include the inability to secure a job, get federal loans, and find housing.
What Happens If You Steal A Bike And Get Caught?
If you steal a bike and get caught, you either get charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Felony punishments are more severe than misdemeanor penalties. Felonies may attract imprisonment of not less than a year and fines of not less than $1000. However, the punishment varies across various states.
The punishment for misdemeanor varies from imprisonment in the county jail for several months to paying a fine. The various states have different jail terms and charge unique fines. You may also face a probation period where the court assigns a probation officer who ensures you maintain your job and avoid associating with criminals.
Below are some of the consequences if you get charged with a felony;
- Imprisonment. Prison sentences can last several years, but it differs significantly. If it is your first theft, you may go to prison for several months, or the court may choose to give you a fine. However, if you are a repeat offender, your prison sentence may extend up to 20 years.
- Fines. Felony attracts significant fines where one conviction may require you to pay a minimum fine of $1000. The figure may increase depending on the state and circumstances.
- Restitution. In some scenarios, the court may order you to pay a certain amount to compensate the bike owner for the loss (restitution).
Is It Illegal To Steal Your Bike Back?
Stealing your bike back is not illegal if you find it parked in a public place or spot the thief riding it. Only confront the person riding your bike if you are confident it will not result in violence or wait until they park the bike to take it back.
The other alternative would be taking a photo of the suspect and the bike and reporting the issue to relevant authorities for further action. If you steal your bike back without the help of the police, make sure you report the case to prevent the culprit from stealing it back again.
On the other hand, it would be illegal to steal your bike back if you trespass. Avoid trespassing consequences by reporting the stolen bike to the police. Make sure you provide proof that the bike belongs to you. For example, present a picture or a receipt and, if possible, bring a witness to testify that it is your bike.
After you have reported the case, identify the involved suspect and let the police know about their location or place of residence. It will now be the responsibility of the authorities to confiscate your bike and return it to you.
What Crime Would Stealing A Bike Be?
Stealing a bike would be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the monetary threshold set by various states. If you steal a bike whose value exceeds the set limit, you will be committing a felony and a misdemeanor when the bike value is lesser than the threshold.
Therefore, the offense level depends on your place of residence and whether you are a regular thief or not.
You can steal a $1000 bike and commit a felony in one state and a misdemeanor in another. If you are a first-time offender, you are less likely to get imprisoned. However, you pay a fine. You also get a warning that if you commit any other crime in the future, you will accrue long-term consequences. On the other hand, repeat criminal offenders can get charged with a felony regardless of the bike value.
If you steal several bikes within a given period, for example, six months, and the value of each bicycle does not exceed the set limit, you may still get charged with a felony. The authorities will treat each case differently, even when they fall under a misdemeanor. Additionally, the total value of the stolen bikes greatly exceeds the limit and therefore attracts higher charges.
Can you go to jail for stealing a bike? Yes, you can, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. It may even be worse because you may get both a jail term and a fine. Although the various states have differing punishments, be sure to face the wrath of the law when you steal a bike and get caught.
If your bike gets stolen, report the issue to the police, and they will help you locate your bike.