Theft is a common crime in California and is often straightforward. Shoplifting and identity theft are committed frequently, with closed circuit surveillance cameras and electronic records providing convenient evidence against crimes alleged. But not all allegations of criminal activity are obvious and easy.
Fueling an arrest and investigation
The Fresno County Sherriff’s Department recently arrested a 38-year-old man for what they say was a string of thefts. The accused reportedly siphoned diesel fuel from the vehicles of local farmers and subsequently sold it to truck drivers. According to the Department, the man stole about 800 gallons of fuel per week, over several weeks, and that the fuel was worth $60,000.
It’s important to note that being arrested and accused of committing a crime are not the same thing as being convicted of a crime. The man in this report, for instance, was never caught siphoning fuel and the report did not indicate that he possessed any when he was arrested.
Furthermore, the man was identified because he was driving a truck that law enforcement believed was involved in the thefts, but no witnesses were identified as linking the man to the crime. In fact, the Sherriff’s Department stated that any truck driver who purchased the fuel would also be committing a crime, so they are unlikely to receive assistance on that end.
Every person accused of committing a crime has a right to a defense against the accusation. Prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, using actual evidence – the fact of the arrest itself is not evidence. Law enforcement can make mistakes or simply be wrong when they take action, drawing conclusions that will not hold up in a court of law.