Stealing Sports Stuff—Don’t!

by: Mickey Ingles (Photo credit: Complex Sports)

Since we three editors of Batas Sportiva are New England Patriots fans (don’t @ us), we were pretty stoked that Tom Brady’s jerseys have been found and returned to the Patriots. And after reading Professor McCann’s brilliant article on the legal implications of the jersey theft, it got us thinking: what if it happens in the Philippines? What if someone were to sneak into Ginebra’s locker room and run away with L.A. Tenorio’s jersey, what then?

A number of crimes can pop up if a jersey (or jock strap, if you’re into those things) is stolen from a locker room, depending on the circumstances.

The first is theft under Article 308, Revised Penal Code (RPC). The elements of theft are:

  • There’s a taking of personal property belonging to another,
  • The taking is done with intent to gain (animus lucrandi if you want to be fancy),
  • The taking is done without the consent of the owner, and
  • That the taking is done without the consent of the owner.

How long the thief will be locked up in prison mainly depends on the value of the thing stolen. If the sports memorabilia exceeds P22,000 (like Sonny Jaworski’s Ginebra jersey—check out this glorious video, complete with the Marlboro theme song), the thief can languish in jail for a maximum of twenty years. But if the thing isn’t even worth P5 (like my faded high school futbol jersey) and the offender acted under an impulse of hunger or poverty, the thief can stay up to 30 days in prison (arresto menor)—presumably to regret why he’d steal such a worthless piece of memorabilia.

The second is qualified theft under Article 310, RPC. Qualified theft occurs when the theft is committed by a domestic servant or with grave abuse of confidence (there are more instances, but they don’t seem particularly relevant for this post). Qualified theft is committed with grave abuse of confidence when a special relationship of intimacy and trust exists between the thief and the victim. The penalty for qualified theft is more severe than simple theft, as the penalty is bumped up by two degrees.

Say the memorabilia was stolen from the athlete’s home, what then?

Robbery comes into the picture. There are different kinds of “robbery” in the RPC. You’ve
got robbery with physical injuries, robbery with rape, robbery with homicide—it’s a list that rivals Bubba’s shrimp repertoire—but it’s robbery by the use of force upon things (Article 299 (a) (1)) that’s the most relevant to a home invasion.

I can use some tempura right now.

Robbery by the use of force upon things happens when:

  • The offender enters an inhabited house (in this case, the athlete’s)
  • And the entrance was made through any of the following means:
    • Thru an opening not intended for entrance or egress (like sneaking in through chimney ala Santa),
    • By breaking any wall, roof, floor, window, or door,
    • By using fake keys or picklocks, or
    • By using a fictitious name or by pretending the exercise of public authority
  • And that once inside the house, the offender took the personal property with an intent to gain.

If the robber is unarmed and the value of the thing stolen exceeds P250, the robber (if caught and convicted) can spend up to twelve years in jail. If armed, he or she can spend up to 20 years in prison.

Notice that theft and robbery have a common element: taking. Taking is completed once the offender has acquired complete control over the property, even for just an instant. So if a sports junkie looking to make a quick buck so much as picks up that stinky game-used jersey with an intent to gain, the crime is complete (what crime will depend on the circumstances).

Say, you’re friend steals shoes signed by Michael Jordan (the one in the featured pic sold for $21,000!) and asks you to sell it on e-Bay… and you did. Are you guilty of theft?

No. But you are liable for fencing under P.D. 1612 or as an accessory to theft or robbery… and having terrible judgment. The GOAT has a message for you:


Mickey Ingles is editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva. He was really tempted to make the title “Stealing Sports Stuffs” just to irk people off.


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