APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. KENNETH
R. WENDT, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Following a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of unlawful possession of an automobile in violation of section 4-103(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 4-103(a)) and sentenced to a term of one to three years. On appeal, he contends he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
McGruder Johnson was tried and convicted along with defendant; however, he did not appeal.
At trial the following pertinent facts were adduced.
On the evening of February 20, 1974, he discovered his 1970 Buick Riviera missing from the company parking lot, where he had parked it that morning. The next time he saw the car was in March 1974 in the police pound. It was "almost completely stripped." The fenders, doors, trunk, and hood had been removed.
He is a Chicago police officer. On February 22, 1974, while on patrol he came across a 1970 Chevelle, missing its engine and transmission. Noticing skid marks, he followed them down a dirt alley to a single-car garage behind a dwelling at 7419 South Parnell.
Pursuant to this observation, he and his partner, Officer Michael Cummings, drove past the garage at about 2 p.m. on March 9, 1974. The garage door was open. Standing just inside the garage, on either side of a 1970 Buick Riviera, were defendant and McGruder Johnson. They were removing the "front clip" from the car. The hood, trunk lid, and doors had been removed and were off to the side. The officers, who were in uniform, got out of their marked squad car and approached the men who dropped the "front clip" and ran toward the side door of the garage. They apprehended the suspects before they reached the door.
After a radio check revealed that the vehicle had been reported missing, he arrested both suspects and advised them of their rights. Thereafter, defendant stated, "We can't take a bust; is there something we can do?" He threatened to charge him with bribery and defendant said nothing further. Later, he ascertained the garage was owned by Johnson's parents.
On cross-examination he acknowledged that although he drove by the garage once a day between February 22 and March 9 he never looked into the garage windows nor checked the ownership of the garage nor attempted to obtain a search warrant. On the date in question, the garage doors were "open" but not "wide open." He denied kicking down the doors. He also stated that when the suspects ran, he drew his weapon and told them to stop.
When he first saw the two suspects, defendant's hands were on the right side of the front fender and Johnson's hands on the left side of the front fender. They were removing the "front clip" which consists of the fender, bumper, and grill.
He denied saying during a preliminary hearing on May 14, 1974, that he saw defendant removing the front hood. He suggested that this was a typographical error in the transcripts, insisting ...