The Iowa Judicial Building.

The Iowa Supreme Court rules on the definition of a theft detection in the case of a law mower stolen in Mason City.

Charles Ross was found guilty of second-degree theft and the unlawful removal of a theft detection device after he and a helper cut the padlock off a steel cable and took a lawnmower from outside of the Mason City Mills Fleet Farm around 4:00 a.m. on September 24, 2018.

An employee arriving at the store saw the two men loading the lawnmower into a rented truck.  Ross argued his attorney was ineffective for allowing him to plead guilty to the theft detection device charge. He says the padlock and cable is a “theft prevention” device and is not a “detection” device.

The Iowa Supreme Court agreed, saying the cut padlock did not alert anyone to the theft,  and it would have gone unnoticed if an employee hadn’t seen Ross loading the lawnmower into a truck.

The court threw out one year of Ross’ seven-year sentence that was part of the theft detection device charge.

Here’s the ruling: Supreme Court Theft Detection Ruling PDF