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People v. Ruiz

OPINION FILED JUNE 14, 1985.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

DIEGO RUIZ, A/K/A DIEGO RUIZ CORTEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Joseph M. McCarthy, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE NASH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After trial by jury, defendant, Diego Ruiz, was convicted of burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 19-1) and felony theft (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 16-1(a)). He was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of six years for burglary of a trailer and five years for theft of a Honda Prelude automobile.

The single issue presented by this appeal is whether a semi-tractor-trailer is a structure which can be the subject of the offense of burglary. We conclude that it may and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

At about 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 13, 1983, defendant was apprehended, together with Lee Ann Blann, his girlfriend, in the trailer in question. It was a common variety of semitrailer, made of metal, with three sides, a roof and floor and an overhead sliding door in the rear. The trailer sat on eight rear wheels and was supported at the front end by rolled-down jack-stands. It could become mobile by backing a truck tractor under the front end, raising the jack-stands and connecting the trailer to the truck. At the time in question there was no tractor-truck present.

The trailer was parked with its door against the loading dock of the Horizon Products factory in St. Charles; the business was closed that weekend. That company manufactured wire from aluminum rod and used the trailer to store aluminum scrap. The trailer was supplied and owned by a salvage company and parked by it on the factory premises. When loaded with boxes of aluminum scrap from the factory, averaging a three-month period, the salvage company would remove the trailer and replace it with an empty one. In order to do so a truck tractor would bring in the empty trailer and hook onto the full one to haul it away. The trailers are not moved at the site by the Horizon Products company, but always remain at the loading dock. The door of the trailer was kept either locked or fastened closed with wire.

After his arrest defendant stated to officers he and Bland wanted to steal some scrap and, also, that he had purchased the Honda automobile parked next to the trailer for $1,000 knowing it was stolen.

Defendant contends that the trailer which he entered to steal aluminum scrap is not a building, motor vehicle or otherwise designated in the burglary statute as subject to that offense. The State asserts the trailer is a structure which may be considered either a motor vehicle, housetrailer or building under the statute.

The legislature has defined the offense of burglary as follows:

"A person commits burglary when without authority he knowingly enters or without authority remains within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle as defined in The Illinois Vehicle Code, railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit therein a felony or theft. This offense shall not include the offenses set out in Section 4-102 of The Illinois Vehicle Code, nor the offense of residential burglary as defined in Section 19-3 hereof." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 19-1(a).

We consider first whether the semi-tractor trailer entered by defendant is a motor vehicle within the scope of section 19-1 so as to be the subject of burglary, and find it is not.

A motor vehicle as defined by the Illinois Vehicle Code, as the burglary statute requires, is as follows:

"Motor Vehicle. Every vehicle which is self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails. For this Act, motor vehicles are divided into two divisions:

First Division: Those motor vehicles which are designed for the carrying of not more than 10 persons.

Second Division: Those motor vehicles which are designed for carrying more than 10 persons, those designed or used for living quarters and those motor vehicles which are designed for pulling or carrying freight or cargo, and those motor vehicles of the First Division remodelled for use and used as motor ...


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