Residential Burglary charges were filed last week against a Minnesota man. This would hardly be worthy of international attention, but for the way in which the burglar was caught. Twenty-Six year old Nicholas Wig broke into a home and used the victim's computer to log into his own FaceBook account! Not only was Wig kind enough to not steal the computer, he was also foolish enough to leave behind his digital fingerprints. He even failed to log out of his FaceBook account before leaving the scene. New technologies are making it easier to solve crimes, but sometimes the criminals themselves play a greater role in their downfall than any technology.
As a criminal defense lawyer, it is a pet peeve of mine to hear people misuse the terms "burglary and "robbery." It is a common mistake for people to use these terms interchangeably, as if they are synonyms for the same crime. However, as any first year law student or police academy graduate can tell you, these are actually very distinct crimes not only under Pennsylvania law, but in all jurisdictions following English common law traditions.
It was not long into my career as a criminal defense attorney when I realized that the majority of crimes are either rooted in the pursuit of or effects of drugs and alcohol, or in mental illness, or a combination of the two. My educated guess is that the 38 year old woman who accused workers at a South Central Pennsylvania SPCA animal shelter of "kidnapping her niece," was likely suffering from some DSM-V mental health diagnosis, in light of the fact that her "niece," Molly, is actually a dog. The bizarre delusion led to a rather unusual, alleged burglary over last weekend.