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06/06/89 the People of the State of v. Corine J. Block

June 6, 1989





540 N.E.2d 512, 184 Ill. App. 3d 135, 132 Ill. Dec. 772 1989.IL.846

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Thomas E. Callum, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE REINHARD delivered the opinion of the court. INGLIS and NASH, JJ., concur.


Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Du Page County, defendant, Corine J. Block was found guilty of theft (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 16-1(d)(1)) of property not exceeding $300 and was sentenced to a one-year term of probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of public service employment. Defendant contends on appeal that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) that the property in question was stolen; (2) that defendant knew or reasonably should have known the property was stolen; and (3) that defendant had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the benefit of the property at the time she took possession of the property.

The following evidence was adduced at trial. The complaining witness, Sharon Stevens-Springer, testified that between 2 and 2:30 p.m. on January 19, 1987, while working at C.N.A. Insurance Company in Downer's Grove, she noticed that her purse was missing from where she had placed it on the floor next to her desk. She had stepped away from her desk and saw it was missing upon her return. Stevens-Springer's desk was located in an open office area on the fifth floor. After checking the entire fifth floor, Stevens-Springer reported to the police that her purse was stolen.

On January 25, 1987, at noon, Stevens-Springer received a telephone call at home. The caller was a woman whose voice Stevens-Springer didn't recognize. The caller, who refused to identify herself during the entire conversation, said she had Stevens-Springer's purse. According to Stevens-Springer, the caller agreed to meet her in Bellwood after she offered the caller some money. First, $10 was offered, but the caller said that was not enough. Eventually, $30 was agreed upon, and the caller agreed to meet Stevens-Springer at a Dominick's parking lot in Downer's Grove.

On cross-examination, Stevens-Springer stated that during their telephone conversation, she told the caller she could not drive to Bellwood because she had recently had surgery and could not drive that far. The caller said she had no transportation to Downer's Grove and would need someone to drive her there.

Following the telephone conversation, Stevens-Springer contacted the Downer's Grove police and proceeded to the Dominick's store. A car occupied by defendant, her daughter, and eight children drove up. Stevens-Springer had seen defendant's daughter at her office just prior to discovering her purse missing on January 19. Defendant approached Stevens-Springer and told her that a friend had the purse, that she knew what it was like to have her purse stolen, and that she talked the friend into letting her have the purse. Stevens-Springer recognized defendant's voice as the voice of the woman who had telephoned her earlier. Stevens-Springer and defendant then proceeded to the car that defendant arrived in, and, when Stevens-Springer was about to give money to defendant, the police interceded.

Officers Groce and Solava, Downer's Grove police officers, having been advised of the telephone call received by Stevens-Springer, waited in an unmarked car in the Dominick's parking lot. When they approached defendant, she produced the purse which Stevens-Springer identified as her missing purse. Defendant tried to explain that she had found the purse and was trying to return it to its rightful owner.

Defendant testified that the purse was brought to her house by a person named Joseph and that she did not know it was stolen. On cross-examination she stated that the individual who brought the purse was named Kevin and she did not believe the purse was his. Defendant found Stevens-Springer's name and telephone number in the purse and telephoned her. Defendant asked Stevens-Springer to pick the purse up at her home and did not ask for any money. Stevens-Springer asked defendant to bring the purse to her. Defendant offered to meet her at Bellwood, but Stevens-Springer apparently declined. Defendant told Stevens-Springer that she did not drive and would have to pay someone to drive her to Downer's Grove. Stevens-Springer agreed to pay defendant $30. Defendant stated that she identified herself and her address over the telephone and that she never threatened to withhold the purse unless money was paid. Defendant stated that after meeting Stevens-Springer in the parking lot an hour or so after the conversation, she returned the purse immediately.

Defendant was charged with theft in that she on January 25, 1987, "knowingly obtained control over certain stolen property . . . under such circumstances as would reasonably induce said defendant to believe the property was stolen and with intent to deprive . . . permanently of the benefit of said property." ...

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