Division I: At Odds With Division II Over Whether a Device was Designed for Shoplifting, Adopts Any Possible Purpose Test
This is an interesting case, but not for the reasons you think. You see, in an earlier case, Division II said that pliers used to remove a security tag weren’t a device designed to overcome security systems. This is because pliers are designed to do other things, and just happen to also be able to overcome security systems. The statute was reserved for specifically made tag removers and foil lined bags…things that indicate professional repeat shoplifters. Though not mentioned, this could presumably include things like under-skirt hook and harness systems that gypsies would use to cart off televisions or microwaves under their dresses. If you’re caught with one of those, its an aggravating factor in your sentencing:
Principles of statutory construction and an analysis of the legislative history and statutory scheme do not resolve the ambiguity in former RCW 9A.56.360( 1)( b) in the State' s favor. If anything, these interpretive aids tend to 'support interpretation of the statute in Reeves' s favor. They definitely do not " clearly establish" that the legislature intended the phrase " item, article, implement, or device designed to overcome security systems" to include any device — including ordinary pliers — a person uses to overcome security systems to commit retail theft.
Well, we have pretty much the same thing here, only with wire cutters, and not pliers. The result was a little different out of Division I:
In recognition ofthe fact that wire cutters are designed to cutwire, which is a common feature ofsecurity systems, we hold that, within the meaning of former RCW 9A.56.360(1 )(b), wire cutters constitute a "device designed to overcome security systems."
. . .
We are aware that the foregoing analysis is at odds with a recent Division Two decision. See State v. Reeves, ___ Wn. App. ___, 336 P.3d 105 (2014) (holding that "ordinary pliers" do not constitute a device designed to overcome security systems). We are not persuaded by that decision's reasoning.
Judge Tricky rightfully dissents and would follow State v. Reeves.
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