By: Rob Harris
California has a statute that distinguishes between the theft of property valued at less than $950 dollars. If taken from a commercial establishment, the act constitutes shoplifting (a misdemeanor); if taken from a private facility or home, the thief can be charged with second degree burglary (a felony).
This statute was of interest to Jon Holm, who found himself sentenced for felonious burglary, until the California Court of Appeals determined that shoplifting was the crime-du-jour.
And why is this of relevance to golf?
Well, Mr. Holm’s misdeeds occurred at the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club, a private country club where he was formerly a member. Ouch.
From the club, he absconded with “a television, valued at $662.23, and three boxes of golf balls, valued at $50 each.”
The Court of Appeals noted that “the club is open to members and their guests, but not to the general public. The club’s facilities include a pro shop, two restaurants, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a golf course and banquet facilities. The club also displays art work by local artists, which members and their guests may purchase. Members of the general public, however, can rent the banquet facilities.
According to the trial court, Mr. Holm was a burglar, plain and simple. As the judge note, “this is not a commercial establishment, in my opinion, within the meaning of Prop 47. This is a private club that you have to be a member. Mr. Holm, according to the presentence report, was not a member of the club at the time that he was actually expelled in 2011, so he’s not a member…”
Good thing for Mr. Holm that there are appellate courts, because the California appellate tribunal saw things differently than the trial judge:
“[W]e conclude the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club is an establishment ‘primarily engaged in the sale of goods and services.’ The fact most of these are sold to a subset of the general public—namely individual club members and their guests—does not change the commercial nature of the establishment. Furthermore, the club sells some of its goods and services, namely its banquet space and services, to the general public.”
So, good news for Mr. Holm, as he went from being a convicted burglar to a convicted shoplifter. Either way, however, it’s doubtful that Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club will be readmitting him any time soon.