Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Montgomery County, Nos. 3796/3802, 3995, 3996 July Term 1975.
Mead S. Spurio, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Robert A. Selig, Assistant District Attorney, with him William T. Nicholas, District Attorney, Norristown, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Watkins, President Judge, and Price and Van der Voort, JJ., dissent.
[ 248 Pa. Super. Page 466]
Appellant was convicted on nine charges, including receiving stolen property, possession of forged automobile title certificates, theft by receiving stolen property, unlawful use of a credit card, and possession of a controlled substance. These convictions rested in part on evidence seized from appellant's apartment. Appellant argues that the affidavit of probable cause in the warrant authorizing the search of his apartment did not contain sufficient information to support a finding of probable cause.
The relevant portion of the warrant read:
[ 248 Pa. Super. Page 467]
Probable cause belief is based on the following facts and circumstances: On July 23, 1975, the affiant, while investigating a possible abandoned vehicle at the Blair Mill Village East, found that the vehicle identification number on the said '74 Ford LTD had been reported stolen (VIN plate on dashboard), and that this vehicle was subsequently recovered without the dashboard; therefore indicating that the dashboard in the vehicle in question had been installed illegally.
The affiant also found that a second vehicle, (Ford LTD '75) had a VIN plate on the dashboard which likewise did not match the vehicle itself. This was learned through ownership tracing with Ford Marketing Corporation.
The first vehicle is known by complex residents to belong to Norman Heyward, and the second vehicle is known to be operated by Norman Heyward.
By authority of Motor Vehicle Code section # 303, the two vehicles were seized for further investigation. Search of the second vehicle ('75 Ford) revealed blank motor vehicle registration cards and applications, forged and/or stolen operator's licenses, and two title certificates (Control # s 9897103 and 9897135) which were stolen from Harrisburg on June 1, 1973 (PSP case # X-202).
Such certificates, blank registration cards and forged/stolen operators licenses indicate the operation of an Auto Theft and/or Fraud operation. The affiant has found that two vehicles operated by or in the possession of Norman Heyward, have altered or defaced VIN plates on the dashboards, and has found two stolen title certificates which were part of three ...