APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EARL J.
NEAL, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
After a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of the theft of a fan having the value of less than $150 and sentenced to 60 days in the House of Correction.
On appeal, he contends (1) the complaint was void, because the Chicago Public Library, alleged to be the owner of the fan, was not an entity legally capable of owning property; and (2) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Carl Willis, the only witness for the State, testified that he was a security agent for the Chatham branch of the Chicago Public Library. He had seen defendant and his accomplice in the library earlier that evening. Later, he saw defendant outside the library, carrying a fan which he recognized as belonging to the library. He pursued defendant and an accomplice into the alley behind the library, where he found the fan on the ground. Defendant had disappeared and, after Willis returned the fan to the library, he went back to the alley, where he saw and arrested defendant as he was entering a cab. Willis estimated that 3-5 minutes elapsed between the time he first observed defendant carrying the fan and the time of the arrest. The theft occurred at about 8:15 P.M., while it was still daylight.
Defendant testified that for the prior 5 1/2 years he had worked part-time in a store next door to the library. On the day of the theft, he went into the alley behind the library, intending to borrow his employer's car and, when he found it was not there, he decided to take a cab to his employer's house to get the car. He denied being in the library on that day and denied carrying the fan. He further stated that he did not see a fan in the alley and that he was not with anyone else that evening.
A police report, made out after the arrest from information provided by Willis to the reporting officer, did not mention an accomplice.
Defendant first contends the complaint was void because the Chicago Public Library was not an entity capable of owning property. He argues that because the library is a mere department of the City of Chicago, without its own property or funds, the City of Chicago should have been alleged as the owner of the fan.
It is true that in a prosecution for theft, the State must allege and prove that the theft was from an entity owning property (People v. Hill, 68 Ill. App.2d 369, 216 N.E.2d 212), and defendant refers us to Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library v. Arnold, 60 Ill. App. 328, in support of his contention that the Chicago Public Library could not own property.
In Arnold, the Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library entered into a contract to pay for work by warrants drawn upon the Treasurer of the City of Chicago. A contractor sued the Board of Directors for a claimed unpaid balance. At that time, section 5 of chapter 81 (Hurd's Rev. Stat. 1895, ch. 81, par. 5) gave to the Board of Directors "[E]xclusive control of the expenditure of all moneys collected to the credit of the library fund, * * * Provided, that all moneys received for such library shall be deposited in the treasury of said city to the credit of the library fund, and shall be kept separate and apart from other moneys of such city, and drawn upon by the proper officers of said city, upon the properly authenticated vouchers of the library board." In holding that the Board of Directors could not be sued, the court stated at pages 330 and 331:
"Now the board has no property or funds; it is only a department of the city by construction a quasi corporation having, among its powers, the power to draw vouchers upon a special fund in the city treasury. As it never can have anything with which to pay a judgment, assumpsit will not lie against it."
We do not believe Arnold is controlling here. The existing statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 81, par. 4-7(2)) gives the Board exclusive control over expenditures of moneys collected for the library and deposited to the credit of the library fund, but contrary to the statute in existence at the time of the contract in Arnold, the present statute has no limitation that the moneys received should be deposited into or drawn upon a special fund of the City.
In addition, we note that the Chicago Municipal Code 1973, chapter 23, paragraph 23-5, and the Public Library District Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 81, par. 1001-9) use the phrases "belonging to the Chicago Public Library, or any of its branches" and "belonging to the library" respectively, in setting forth violations and penalties for injury to the property of the library. In People v. Crouch, 77 ...