Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

Valenzuela v. People

Aristotle Valenzuela v. People of the Philippines

G. R. No. 160188, June 21, 2007
Tinga, J.

FACTS:

Petitioner and Jovy Calderon were sighted outside the Super Sale Club, a supermarket within the ShoeMart (SM) complex along North EDSA, by Lorenzo Lago (Lago), a security guard who was then manning his post at the open parking area of the supermarket.  Lago saw petitioner, who was wearing an identification card with the mark Receiving Dispatching Unit (RDU), hauling a pushcart with cases of detergent of the well-known Tide brand. Petitioner unloaded these cases in an open parking space, where Calderon was waiting. Petitioner then returned inside the supermarket, and after five (5) minutes, emerged with more cartons of Tide Ultramatic and again unloaded these boxes to the same area in the open parking space. When Lago asked petitioner for a receipt of the merchandise, petitioner and Calderon reacted by fleeing on foot, but Lago fired a warning shot to alert his fellow security guards of the incident. Petitioner and Calderon were apprehended at the scene, and the stolen merchandise recovered. Before the Court of Appeals, petitioner argued that he should only be convicted of frustrated theft since at the time he was apprehended, he was never placed in a position to freely dispose of the articles stolen.

ISSUE:

Is the crime committed frustrated or consummated theft?

HELD:

The crime is consummated. The following elements of theft as provided for in Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, namely: (1) that there be taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things. There was no need of an intent to permanently deprive the owner of his property to constitute an unlawful taking.

So long as the descriptive circumstances that qualify the taking are present, including animo lucrandi and apoderamiento, the completion of the operative act that is the taking of personal property of another establishes, at least, that the transgression went beyond the attempted stage. Insofar as we consider the present question, unlawful taking is most material in this respect. Unlawful taking, which is the deprivation of one’s personal property, is the element which produces the felony in its consummated stage. At the same time, without unlawful taking as an act of execution, the offense could only be attempted theft, if at all. With these considerations, we can only conclude that under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, theft cannot have a frustrated stage. Theft can only be attempted or consummated.

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