Craigslist Leads to Grand Larceny and Burglary Charges for Queens Man

Craigslist Leads to Grand Larceny and Burglary Charges for Queens Man

Craigslist is one of the largest and most heavily-browsed web forums in America, and perhaps even the world.  The international site attracts more than 60 million visitors from the United States each month — and a few of those visitors are charged with serious crimes.  In this instance, 31-year-old Terrell L. Hill of Jamaica has been charged with multiple felonies, including burglary and grand larceny, after allegedly posing as a landlord and charging renters thousands of dollars.

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of New House.

Detectives Say Jamaica Man Pretended to Be Landlord to Scam Renters

On August 13, 31-year-old Terrell L. Hill of Jamaica, Queens was arrested on multiple charges of felony burglary and grand larceny.  The charges are connected to an alleged renting scam that began with a series of property rental ads Hill posted on Craigslist earlier in the month.  One ad, posted on the first, offered prospective tenants an apartment located at 63 Cerenzia Blvd. in Elmont for the asking price of $3,800.  A second ad featured a property at 134 Elm St. in Valley Stream, which asked for a down payment of $1,600.

Interested renters were quick to respond to both postings — but there was a problem. Detectives say that despite acting as a landlord, Hill didn’t actually own the buildings.

Detectives became involved when the real owner of the Elm St. property came by to give the home a routine check-up on August 13.  The owner was shocked when he found two women living in his “unoccupied” building, and quickly called the police.

Later in the day, Hill also came to visit the apartment on Elm St. with the intention of collecting more money.  But, like the property owner before him, he was in for a surprise of his own.  Instead of making a financial transaction with the renters, Hill was placed under arrest.  His arraignment is scheduled to take place today, August 14, at First District Court in Hempstead, New York.

Marble courthouse building facade in black and white.

What Can Happen if You’re Charged with Burglary or Grand Larceny in New York?

Hill is facing a long list of criminal charges: one count of grand larceny in the third degree, two counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and two counts of burglary in the third degree.  What could happen to Hill if he is convicted?

Grand larceny in the fourth degree represents the least severe charge on the list — but it’s still graded as a felony.  More specifically, it is an E felony under S 155.30 of the New York Penal Code, which means that a conviction can result in up to four years of prison time.  However, Hill has also been charged with the same crime in the third degree, a D felony which can be penalized with up to seven years in prison.  Why both charges?

While other factors can separate degrees of larceny (i.e. theft), one of the main variables that goes into grading is the monetary value of what was stolen.  A person can be charged in the fourth degree if the value “exceeds $1,000,” but can be charged in the third degree if the value escalates to more than $3,000.  Between the two properties Hill allegedly represented, he would have collected a total of $5,400 from his renters.

Had the dollar value of the properties been under $1,000, Hill may have been charged with petit larceny, which is an A misdemeanor.

Hill has also been charged with third degree burglary, which brings up a very good question: how is burglary different than theft?  The terms are, after all, interchangeable in casual conversation — but from a legal perspective, they are actually quite different.

This is because burglary specifically involves the element of unlawfully entering a property, whether residential or commercial, with the intent to commit a crime.  By comparison, larceny only involves “a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another’s property” — there is no element of trespassing.

In the third degree, this offense is also classified as a D felony, meaning there could be a seven-year maximum sentence if he is convicted.

(It is probably worth pointing out that robbery, which is always a felony, is yet another distinct offense associated with theft.  It is defined by “forcible stealing” and the use or threat of physical force.  Mugging would be an example of robbery.)

If you or someone you love has been charged with theft or burglary in New York, you could be facing felony-grade penalties.  It is extremely important that you contact an experienced Queens criminal defense lawyer as soon as you possibly can.  To schedule a private case evaluation, call attorney Victor Knapp, Esq., at (718) 263-9000 right away.  You can also contact our law offices online.