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No Crimeof FrustratedTheft - SC

By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado

Under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of theft does not have a frustrated stage. Theft can only be attempted or consummated. In a landmark decision penned by Justice Dante O. Tinga, the Supreme Court upheld a conviction for consummated theft, stating that theft can never be frustrated as its element of unlawful taking, or apoderamiento, is deemed complete from the moment the offender gains possession of the thing, even if he has no opportunity to dispose of the same. Explaining that the difference between a frustrated and consummated crime lies in whether the felony itself was actually produced by the acts of execution completed by the offender, the Court concluded that the statutory definition of theft under Article 308 cannot admit of a frustrated stage as theft is produced upon the completion of the element of unlawful taking. This ruling lays to rest the controversy surrounding the existence of frustrated theft as created by the 1948 and 1964 Court of Appeals rulings of People v. Dio (No. 924-R, 18 February 1948, 45 O.G. 3446.) and People v. Flores (6 C.A. Rep. 2d 835 (1964)), which deemed the crimes involved as frustrated theft. While the Dio/Flores dictum is considerate to the mindset of the offender, the statutory definition of theft considers only the perspective of intent to gain on the part of the offender, compounded by the deprivation of property on the part of the victim, the Court said. Valenzuela and his cohort, Jovy Calderon, were convicted of consummated theft by Branch 90 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in February 2000 for filching Php12,090-worth of detergent from the Super Sale Club, a supermarket within the ShoeMart (SM) complex along North EDSA. They had finished loading the stolen merchandise onto a taxi cab when they were apprehended by SM security forces before they could leave the complex premises. (GR No. 160188, Valenzuela v. People, June 21, 2007)