Were You Charged with Theft in an Atlantic City Casino Parking Lot?

Casino parking lots and parking garages can have thousands of cars in them, even off seasons or on slow days.  This creates a large target for many people seeking to steal from unattended vehicles or people seeking to recoup their casino losses by breaking into cars.  Casino security and police officers understand that these cars are often vulnerable targets, and the security in these areas is higher than one might expect, leading to frequent arrests for theft or attempted theft in Atlantic City casino parking lots.

If you or a loved one was charged with stealing from cars in an Atlantic City parking garage, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today.  Our Atlantic City theft from a casino parking lot attorneys represent defendants charged with serious crimes and fight to get their charges dropped and dismissed.  To schedule a free legal consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.

Charges for Stealing from Cars in a Parking Lot in Atlantic City

If you were arrested for stealing from cars in a parking lot outside an Atlantic City casino, there are actually a few crimes you could face charges for.  Theft is the most obvious offense you could face, but you may also face charges for burglary or trespassing depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense.


Theft, particularly theft by unlawful taking or disposition under N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-3, covers the unlawful taking of someone else’s property.  If you go into someone else’s car and take cash, cell phones, other devices, or other items left in the car, you can face charges for theft.

Criminal Mischief

In addition to theft, you could face charges for “criminal mischief.”  It is difficult to get into someone else’s car without the keys, and stealing from a car in a parking lot often requires the actor to jimmy the door open or break a window.  Any destruction of someone else’s property – i.e., their car – can lead to charges for criminal mischief under N.J.S.A. § 2C:17-3.


There is typically some sort of security team or police presence at the parking garages attached to Atlantic City hotels and casinos.  These teams frequently tell people to leave the area if they appear to be casing the parking lot or lying in wait to commit a crime.  If you are asked to leave and do not, you could be arrested for trespassing under N.J.S.A. § 2C:18-3.  If you initially entered without permission or stayed after you were asked to leave, you could be charged with a crime.


Similarly, burglary is the crime of trespassing with the intent to commit another crime once inside.  This means that if you are caught prowling or casing the parking lot, and you are there without permission, you could be charged with burglary under N.J.S.A. § 2C:18-2.  Even if you do not actually take anything, you could still be charged for having the intent to steal while trespassing.  You can also face additional charges for possessing burglar’s tools.

Penalties for Theft from an Atlantic City Casino Parking Lot

Theft crimes in New Jersey are graded depending on the value of what was stolen.  The same is true for criminal mischief and destruction of property crimes.  Other offenses related to stealing from a parking lot have other penalties, which you could face in addition to the theft penalties if you are charged with more than one crime.

Theft can be graded as a “disorderly persons offense” or an “indictable crime” graded as a fourth, third, or second degree crime.  These offenses carry different base penalties:

  • Disorderly persons offense: up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000
  • Fourth degree crime: up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Third degree crime: 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000
  • Second degree crime: 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000

The primary factor that changes the level of grading is the value of what was stolen:

  • Theft of under $200 is a disorderly persons
  • Theft of $200 or more but under $500 is a fourth degree
  • Theft of over $500 but under $75,000 is a third degree
  • Theft of $75,000 or more is a second degree

Theft of a credit card is automatically a third degree crime, and the theft of other particular items might also affect the grading.

Burglary is typically a third degree crime unless you use a deadly weapon or threaten or injure someone during the offense, in which case it is a second degree crime.  Trespassing is a disorderly persons offense or “petty disorderly persons offense” (fine up to $500, up to 30 days in jail) in most cases.

Criminal mischief also changes penalties based on the amount of property damage:

  • Damage of $500 or less is a disorderly persons
  • Damage of more than $500 but less than $2,000 is a fourth degree
  • Damage of $2,000 or more is a third degree

Other factors or particular types of damage may also alter the penalties.

Call Our Atlantic City Theft from a Casino Parking Lot Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation

The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City theft from a casino parking lot lawyers offer free legal consultations to help you understand the charges, potential penalties, and defenses available in your case.  To schedule a free legal consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorneys, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.

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