Consecutive Sentences on Car Theft of Different Owners

In People v. Bauer (1969) 1 Cal. 3d 368 [82 Cal. Rptr. 357, 461 P.2d 637, 37 A.L.R.3d 1398], the defendant was convicted of burglary, robbery, grand theft, and automobile theft. Defendant entered the home of several women, tied them up, stole various items, and then took a car from the garage. The court held that since the robbery and the automobile theft arose out of the same transaction, Penal Code section 654 prohibited the imposition of a concurrent sentence for each offense. In arriving at that conclusion, the court cited People v. Smith, 26 Cal. 2d 854 and People v. Lyons, supra, 50 Cal. 2d 245 for the proposition that the theft of several articles at the same time constitutes but one offense although such articles belong to several different owners. The court noted that this was a majority view in jurisdictions that had addressed it. It then noted the pernicious consequences of a failure to follow the single larceny doctrine: "If the rule were otherwise a burglar who entered an empty house and took numerous articles belonging to one person could be punished for only one offense, but if some of the articles belonged to each of the other members of the family, the burglar could be given consecutive sentences for as many offenses as there are members of the family." (1 Cal. 3d at p. 378.)