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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Fathers house broken into by soon-to-be ex step children.

Customer Question

Fathers house broken into by soon-to-be ex step children. Several of his items stolen. But Myself, Brother and Sisters social security card, birth certificates and titles have been stolen. What recourse do we have? Is this identity theft?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

If they broke into your house and took property that did not belong to them, that is a burglary. In Michigan this is a felony that would carry a penalty of up to ten years of prison. It's identity theft to use your personal documents to hold themselves out as yourself to get some kind of benefit (credit, for example) under your name that they would otherwise not be entitled too.

Burglary is a serious charge. You need to report the break in and let the police know exactly what is missing from the house and that you want (at least I assume you want) to have criminal charges filed against your ex step children for this offense. They will turn the case over to the prosecutor who can file the charges.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
What if a report was done and the sheriff isn't doing anything about it.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

I'm very sorry for the delay. I was finishing a question for another customer.

Sometimes the police will look at something like this and think is more of a family feud than a crime and just do nothing. In that case, what I have always advised others in this circumstance is to go over the heads of the police and report the crime directly to the prosecutor. Do this in person rather than by phone. Make it clear they had no permission to break into yur home and that you want a protective order so that they leave your home and you alone, etc, and that you'd like them prosecuted.

As a defense attorney, I have seen many cases over the years that come through the system where the defendant was the daughter or the brother or sister, or the granchild of the complainant who broke into their home and then took property. So I know that burglaries similar to this do get filed in court and the cases get prosecuted. However, I also know that the state doesn't take on every offense that gets reported to them. If they tell you that they think the case belongs in family court as part of whatever litigation may be going on there, they will tell you. If they decline to prosecute, there is nothing that you can say or do to change their mind, as it is their right to call their cases as they see them, and they cannot be ordered to take a case they don't want to. But if they feel that this is a burglary that should be prosecuted, the fact that the police haven't done a thing won't matter. The prosecutor can order the police to make an arrest.

Good luck!

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Zoey_ JD
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Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.