Is it breaking and entry to a vehicle if you worked on a car, left a tool in it and then went to the owner’s home and retrieve the tool from a locked car?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011Fact Checked

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Is it breaking and entry to a vehicle if you worked on a car, left a tool in it and then went to the owner’s home and retrieve the tool from a locked car?

My husband owns an auto repair shop.He worked on a customer’s car and left a expensive flashlight in the car. He called the owner several times and knocked on their door several times to reach the owner. The owner never responded. My husband again went to the customers house to retrieve the flashlight, the owner was not there, but the car’s window was rolled down several inches. So he took a coathanger, stuck it through the open window, poped the lock and opened the door to get the flashlight. He then locked the car back up. The owner is highly upset and feels like he wronged her. Did he commit a felony?

Asked on August 24, 2011 Texas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Breaking and entering into a person's car, outbuilding or home is a crime if the entering is done with a wrongful purpose and with an intent to harm the person who owns the car, outbuilding or home is a could be a misdemeanor or a felony given the specifics of the conduct, the item taken and resulting damage.

Your husband's intent was to retrieve an item that belonged to your husband haphazardly left in this customer's car and nothing more. He entered the vehicle after several attempts to make contact with the car's owner to get his own flashlight and used self-help without permission to gain access to the vehicle albeit where there was no damage.

Your husband did not create any crime be it a misdemeanor or a felony. However, as a business man he used poor judgment with respect to a customer which makes him look bad and which possibly cost him this customer.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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