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I know that stealing a bike is crime. My question is: can someone who steals a bike get additional charges if they have to break a lock as compared to picking up an unlocked bike?

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    Maybe. There are hundreds of legal systems and jurisdictions in the world, which one do you want to know about? – Nate Eldredge Jan 22 at 6:36
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    i am asking about united states in general and particularly in Florida – Yigal Irani Jan 22 at 6:43
  • It seems that the destruction of the lock is in and of itself a separate crime - whether they get charges for the destruction is a separate question. – emory Jan 22 at 23:40
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We are talking about larceny and larceny & destruction of property in the two cases. So at the minimum, there are more laws that apply. But what are the laws?

Florida names its Larceny statute... Theft:

812.014 Theft.—

(1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.

Destroying someone's else property in Florida is in the statute on Criminal Mischief:

806.13 Criminal mischief; penalties; penalty for minor.—

(1)(a) A person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto.

So, yes, you would additionally get the criminal mischief charge, but... that only grants monetary damages of 250 USD plus the damages done to the items for first timers, but it can become upgraded to a felony in the third degree - which has a maximum limit of 5 years. Note that damaging items in the course of theft is specifically an aggravating factor for the theft charge, if grand theft is combined with property damage of 1000 USD and more.

A bicycle costing between 750 and 5000 USD is grand theft, felony in the third degree according to 812.014.(2)(c)1. This is also the 5 years limit. One could get both sentences... but still only sit 5 years, because often sentences are served concurrently, only rarely consecutively. So, no, you do not necessarily commit a higher offense just for breaking the lock - you'd need to have a 1000 USD damage for that - but you most certainly commit additional offenses that can result in a higher verdict in the end.

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    Breaking the lock might be evidence of intent, but other evidence of intent would often be available. – David Siegel Jan 22 at 16:27
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    @DavidSiegel Do you really need to argue about intent, with bicycle theft, outside of very specific circumstances, like maybe if the 'thief' actually owns a very similar looking bicycle and parked it near the 'stolen' bicycle, both not locked? – Nobody Jan 22 at 17:57
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    @Nobody no. Theft is knowingly obtains or uses [...] with intent temporarily or permanently Deprive the other person of a benefit - having a bicycle at a spot has the benefit of using it when you want to. To knowingly take the bike you don't own to get somewhere deprives the owner of that benefit, even if you put it back. Your intent is proven by the fact that you DID use it. Only if you had the same bike one over and neither is locked you could claim you had no intent, you mixed up the bikes. – Trish Jan 22 at 18:01
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    @Nobody: If a thief claims to own a similar bicycle and to have parked it in about the same place as the one he took, it may be hard to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the thief is lying. One of the purposes of locks is to force thieves to prove their intent to steal, something that even easily-defeated locks can accomplish, and the only thing they're really good for. The popularity of easily-defeated locks would suggest that many people regard that function as useful. – supercat Jan 22 at 18:06
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    @Trish: If a lock which has a 1/8" shackle that doesn't even have the word "hardened" stamped onto it, one wouldn't have to watch LPL to know that it's not going to offer any meaningful resistance to a brute force attack. But as noted, even such a lock could be adequate to force thieves to prove their intent to steal, and people do buy them. I can't think what other purpose people would expect the locks to serve. – supercat Jan 22 at 18:29

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