Air conditioner thefts may lead to prison time for Granite City men

Recently, local media reported about the grand jury indictment of two Granite City men. The two men were allegedly involved in multiple charges that included the theft of air conditioner units from four area churches, a school and a funeral home.

It is believed that the men then stripped down the units and sold the metal to area scrap yards in order to support their drug addictions.

If the men are convicted they could each face as many as seven years in prison for each of the six counts -- one for each establishment that was stolen from. Each air conditioning unit that was taken was valued at more than $500.

It is unclear if either of the men charged for these alleged thefts have a criminal history or if they are first time offenders. There are many variables involved in determining the penalties for property related charges.

For example, it is important for an attorney evaluating the case to know what the value of the items stolen is. Additionally, as in this case, even factors involving a substance abuse problem can come into play. Another factor that courts look at is who else was involved in the crime and if any of those individuals were minors or vulnerable adults, such as the elderly or persons with developmental disabilities.

For individuals that do not have a criminal history, they may qualify for a pretrial diversion program, a type of plea bargain. The goal of this sort of program is to allow defendants time to rehabilitate themselves and demonstrate that they are capable of behaving responsibly going forward.

Sources: KSDK.com, "Shane Wiser, George Stevenson indicted for illegal scrapping," Kevin Held, March 22, 2012

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