Police make first arrest under city's stiffer theft penalties
Upper Arlington police made their first arrest last week under the city's new, more-stringent charges for offenses related to property theft and damages.
On Dec. 1, Bryan Green, 32, of Columbus was charged with theft, receiving stolen property and aggravated trespassing after allegedly entering at least two vehicles on Sherwin Road and stealing an MP3 player, sunglasses and about $10 in European currency.
Although the charges are each misdemeanors, Green is the first person to be charged under tougher local laws enacted Nov. 26 by Upper Arlington City Council.
He was released from police custody after posting $210 bond.
The aggravated trespassing charge already carried maximum penalties of up to 180 days in jail or a fine of $1,000.
Due to the upgrade in penalties for aggravated criminal trespassing, Green will face a mandatory three days in jail, if convicted, in addition to any other fine or jail time imposed by a judge or magistrate.
According to the Upper Arlington Clerk's Office, Green is slated to appear in the city's mayor's court Dec. 13.
Should local prosecutors choose, his case could be sent to Franklin County Municipal Court.
However, Upper Arlington City Attorney Jeanine Hummer said the mandatory three-day jail term would apply regardless of where the case is prosecuted, if Green is convicted.
"They're still held by the law," she said. "Just because it's heard in a different jurisdiction doesn't mean (a judge or magistrate) can deviate from the statute."
In addition to the new aggravated criminal trespassing law, council approved tougher penalties for offenses related to criminal damaging, criminal mischief and theft. The new statutes require offenders to complete 40 hours of community service and pay a $250 fine if the crime was committed with the intent to commit a theft.
Council members implemented mandatory three-day jail terms for anyone with a prior theft or criminal trespassing conviction who is also convicted of criminal damaging.
Related to unauthorized use of property, the city has increased the charge from a fourth-degree misdemeanor -- which carried a maximum of 30 days in prison and a $250 fine -- to a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in prison and a maximum $500 fine.
The upgraded charges were set after a surge in criminal activity that saw more than 100 thefts from vehicles and homes in Upper Arlington between Sept. 20 and Oct. 15.
In many of those cases, police said, the crimes occurred after vehicles, garages and homes were left unlocked.
Green was arrested following similar circumstances, according to police.
UA police Sgt. Jon Wilhelm said officers were alerted to possible criminal activity in the 2500 block of Sherwin Road at about 5:30 a.m. Dec. 1 after a private security company allegedly observed Green entering a resident's unlocked vehicle.
"The vehicle had a security system that enabled a video feed to the company," he said. "We received a call from the company."
Wilhelm said local police found Green walking a dog in a driveway of another Sherwin Road home. The responding officer reported seeing bulges in Green's jacket pocket.
"He didn't have a reason to be in the area," Wilhelm said. "He said he was walking his dog, but he also indicated to officers that he lived in the area of the Ohio State Fairgrounds. At first he denied it, but eventually, he admitted he had entered numerous cars and was taking items from those cars."