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State v. Reeves

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

October 21, 2014

The State of Washington, Appellant
v.
Tom Allen Reeves, Respondent

Appeal from Lewis County Superior Court. Docket No: 13-1-00112-2. Judge signing: Honorable James W Lawler. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 03/27/2013.

Jonathan L. Meyer, Prosecuting Attorney, and Sara I. Beigh, Deputy, for appellant.

Jodi R. Backlund (of Backlund & Mistry ), for respondent.

Authored by Bradley A. Maxa. Concurring: Linda Cj Lee, Lisa Worswick.

OPINION

Page 106

Bradley A. Maxa, J.

[184 Wn.App. 156] [¶1] The State appeals the trial court's dismissal pursuant to a Knapstad [1] motion of the charge against Tom Allen Reeves for third degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances. Under former RCW 9A.56.360(1)(b) (2006),[2] an extenuating circumstance for retail theft includes being in possession of " an item, article, implement, or device designed to overcome security systems including, but not limited to, lined bags or tag removers." The evidence showed that Reeves used pliers to remove a security device before shoplifting a security camera from Walmart. The trial court ruled that the pliers were not a device designed to overcome security systems. We agree with the trial court and affirm the dismissal of the charge against Reeves for third degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances.

FACTS

[¶2] On February 15, 2013, a Walmart asset protection associate saw Reeves use pliers to cut the cables of a spider [184 Wn.App. 157] wrap security device that encased a surveillance camera set. The associate then watched as Reeves placed the surveillance camera set into a backpack and left the store. A Chehalis police officer subsequently arrested Reeves and recovered the backpack with the surveillance camera set inside.

[¶3] The State charged Reeves with third degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances based on the theory that Reeves's use of pliers to remove the spider wrap was an extenuating circumstance. Reeves filed a pretrial Knapstad motion, arguing that the pliers were not a device designed to overcome retail security systems and therefore the use of pliers was insufficient to support the theft with extenuating circumstances charge. The trial court granted Reeves's motion, ruling that the pliers were not a device designed to overcome security systems. The trial court

Page 107

reasoned that including common tools into the definition of devices designed to overcome security systems would render every act of removing a security device an extenuating circumstance.

[¶4] The State appeals.


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