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Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts or Accessories in Illinois

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

As outlined by Illinois Statute 625-5/4-102, it is illegal in Illinois to steal car parts or damage a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you. The offense is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. However, many people may not realize this statute outlaws additional behaviors that have to do with reporting a motor vehicle’s status to authorities. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the theft of motor vehicle parts or accessories in Illinois – and to find out why you should hire a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a crime like this.

Parts theft vs. vehicle theft
First, it’s important to understand the difference between stealing car parts and stealing an entire vehicle. Illinois Statute 625-5/4-102 deals specifically with theft of car parts, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.

Stealing a car in Illinois is considered a felony. This crime is lumped in with Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/16-1, which outlines penalties for theft in general. There is no specific statute dedicated to car theft, but there are specific statutes dedicated to other offenses involving motor vehicles. For instance, vehicular hijacking (720 ILCS 5/18-3) occurs when someone uses force against a person to steal a car. This is considered a Class 1 Felony.

Defining Statute 625-5/4-102
As mentioned, the theft of motor vehicle parts statute makes it against the law to steal a single (or several) car parts. It also forbids damage to a motor vehicle or its parts by anyone who doesn’t have the authority to do so. Basically, if you own the car, you can remove or alter all the parts you want! If it’s not yours and you haven’t been given permission, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.

Working on a car without authority is also a violation. Even trying to do work on a vehicle without explicit consent is forbidden. It’s also illegal to get into a car, try to set it in motion, or succeed in setting it in motion, without authority. If the car doesn’t belong to you and its owner hasn’t asked you to get into it, get it moving, or remove its door, any of these actions are against the law.

Finally, a person who fails to “report a vehicle as unclaimed” also faces a Class A Misdemeanor charge. According to 625 ILCS 5/4-107, anyone who operates public parking lots, auto shops, car storage facilities, or other garaging businesses must report unclaimed vehicles to the authorities. Let’s break that down:

  • Unclaimed vehicles are cars that have been left abandoned for 15 or more days.
  • A report must be filed within five days of the 15 day abandonment period. So, unclaimed cars must be reported by day 20, or responsible parties could face charges.
  • Authorities include “municipal police [or the County Sheriff] when the vehicle is within the corporate limits of any City, Village or incorporated Town.” If the vehicle is outside corporate limits, the State Police must be notified.

Additional possible charges
If a person gets into a car intending to steal parts, they could also be charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle (720 ILCS 5/21-2). Hopping into someone’s car when you’re not allowed to do so is a Class A Misdemeanor. So, if someone gets inside a car to steal a stereo or speakers, they could face a charge of criminal trespass to a vehicle on top of the theft of motor vehicle parts charge.

Class A Misdemeanor penalties
Class A Misdemeanors are more serious than Class B and C Misdemeanors. Conviction of a Class A Misdemeanor could result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. These convictions stay on records, which is why defendants are strongly urged to obtain a criminal defense attorney.

If you or someone you know has been charged with stealing car parts or a failure to report an unclaimed vehicle to authorities in the state of Illinois, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates for a free consultation.