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Plastic bag not a tool of trade for thief

Paper or plastic?

It was a plastic bag that Kenney Williams pulled out of his pocket at a shopping-mall shoe store on July 3, 2005. Into that bag he stuffed a boxed pair of shoes. Without paying for the shoes, he left the store, only to be apprehended in the mall parking lot.

Concealing the shoes in the bag, which had shoe store printing, appeared to be a critical part of his ploy. A Chesterfield County prosecutor charged Williams with petit larceny and “possession of burglarious tools” under Va. Code § 18.2-94. Williams pleaded guilty to the larceny charge, but argued that the plastic bag was not an “implement” of larceny under the statute.

Yesterday, a panel of the Virginia Court of Appeals agreed in Williams v. Commonwealth. The panel reversed the possession charge, saying the plastic bag was not an “implement” under the statute because “it serves no particular purpose in furtherance of a trade, occupation, profession or work.”

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