Stop Thief! A Cautionary Tale…

1 11 2012


(photo courtesy of Serialnumberregistry.ca – in case I’m accused of stealing it!)

I nearly got a new record tonight – however, not a musical record this time – apparently a criminal record! 😮 How did this happen to an honest mountain coward? Read on to find out…

This afternoon I went out on a 6 mile walk to the train station as I needed to get a railcard and am still trying to get walking again after my (now hopefully healed?) broken big toe which I’ve had for the last 16 weeks. I started out in fine but dull weather but, by the time I’d reached the railway station, it started to p*** it down (like it does).

The rain continued to pour as I walked the 3 miles home and eventually started to get through the rudimentary waterproofs I’d donned. In addition to this, it was also pouring down my neck as I’d decided to walk on an old path I used to use up the banking above the town bypass – walking on such rough ground (the path has become overgrown since I haven’t been using it), I needed my hood down to negotiate it.

So, there I was, stomping along falling down rabbit holes, getting snared by brambles, having my hair torn out by overhead rose bushes and getting exceedingly wet legs and feet in the long grass, when I suddenly came across a more obvious version of the normal litter you see beside roads in untidy Britain. This time, in amongst all the never-rotting plastic bottles and the long-lasting cans, there was a huge and neatly-tied carrier bag full of rubbish!

I was outraged – both at the aesthetic insult to my eyes in the countryside and at the risk these things pose to wildlife (not that we have much left). I was also getting pretty grumpy at how my walk was turning out. So, churlishly (I can be very petty), I decided to throw the offending package back down onto the roadside for the motorists as it would have been a motorist who dumped it there.

However, just as I reached for it, I noticed a keypad showing through the bag and realised there was an old mobile phone in there. I fished it out to look at it – it was exceedingly cheap and nasty – a Binatone of all things – I knew they made exceedingly cheap electronic items like radios but had no idea they’d branched out into mobile phones – I’d never heard of one before. It was an extremely simple text or phone call only type of device which I would possibly have bought my elderly parents but you wouldn’t dream of inflicting it on anyone else!

“This should have been recycled in aid of a charity instead of dumped by the roadside”, I angrily thought. I subscribe to very many animal charities and they’re always asking for old phones so I decided I’d take it home and send it off in one of their envelopes. I checked whether it was still working – it wasn’t, so I dumped it into a pocket, lobbed the offending bag down to the roadside and stomped off grumpily.

I’d also noticed, just as I lobbed the bag, there looked to be debit/credit cards also discarded in it. Being so cold, wet and miserable, my brain had no doubt slowed to a crawl (I’m not noted for quick-thinking at the best of times) so I didn’t really think much about that until I got to the end of that stretch of road and a decent path.

“Maybe the bag’s full of stolen items?” I wondered… “Perhaps I should report it when I get back and hand the phone in instead of recycling it?”

I got home an hour or so later with a very sore ankle (not used to being used properly) and a bit of a sore foot. I was soaked to the skin and water was running off me onto my mat as I took my boots off. I got dry clothes on, put my wet clothes on radiators or somewhere to drip (if they were treated items) and got my tea.

Now, apparently my second sin was due to me being a Yorkshirewoman and typically parsimonious (careful with money). I am absolutely famous for never ringing anyone before my phone calls become free at 7 pm, never ringing people back if they’ve only left a mobile number (as they’re not free to call) etc. If I phone someone and it costs me 10 pence, I let them know. Richard finds this hilarious when I read any entries on my phone bill where I’ve had to pay to phone him and I quote exact amounts monthly to him.

So, it not yet being 7pm, I decided to go online and check my e-mails/blog etc. to while away the next hour or so…

At 19:03 precisely (I always add on a couple of minutes in case my clocks are wrong), I dialled 101 for the police non-emergency number and related my tale (in much shorter detail than this, don’t worry) to the police operator. He/she took my details and said someone would be along to collect the phone at some point.

An hour or so later, while I was sat at my computer with headphones on, giggling at a hilarious video clip I’d been sent about boobs, I thought I could hear a pounding on my front door. I stopped the clip, took my headphones off and, sure enough, someone was trying to knock my door in. I looked outside and could see a big police van so trotted cheerfully off downstairs with the phone.

A young policeman was invited in out of the rain. He was talking to me – what was that he was saying? Was it:

“Thankyou for your public spirited act in telling us where you put that bag of rubbish and letting us know you had this phone for collection” ?

Nope – it was along the lines of:

“Now, technically you have stolen this phone and we can prosecute you for this. However, as you have eventually rung us [presumably I was supposed to flag down a passing motorist to call them immediately as I didn’t have my mobile on me when I found the loot] we’ll turn a blind eye to it this time”.

I was ‘gobsmacked’ for a few moments…

“Are you trying to say that I’m in trouble for not ringing the instant I got back home or something?” I asked…

That turned out to be pretty much the case. I told him that when I’d come in I was soaked to the skin, tired and hungry and found getting changed, dry and fed slightly more important. He was surrounded by soggy items drying on radiators all around.

When they’d gone, I was so shocked, I rang Richard and told him – he thought it was hilarious and now keeps calling me a ‘fief’!

So – now you know… mountain coward’s aren’t just cowardly, they’re criminal too!


When I grow up, I’m going to be a fief! not a cherub like my bruv! 😉

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20 responses

17 11 2012
siskinbob

Reblogged this on WrAnTz and commented:
Sometimes the law, and this time the instrument of the law, is an ass. They can be their own worst enemies.

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18 11 2012
mountaincoward

Couldn’t agree more – I could have kicked his ‘ass’ 😉

But they are their own worst enemies as they make people think about minding their own business next time they find something rather than deal with the hassle about it!
Carol.

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8 11 2012
Tango

It did seem a little harsh…..The Police have a hard job to do, BUT they should know a good guy when they meet 1 & act accordly…Its nice to be nice.. Cheers Terry.

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8 11 2012
mountaincoward

Otherwise they are really likely to end up with no-one helping them out at all!

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6 11 2012
bob

An interesting Tale Carol.I tend to avoid anything to do with the police,not because I,ve done anything wrong but just because it doesn’t pay to be recorded anywhere on police or any other computer systems in the first place.Good or bad side.Everyone knows too much about individuals already anyway.
I will reveal I still have a 15 year old Nokia in my pocket though.That’s probably a crime in itself.

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7 11 2012
mountaincoward

Wow, you’ve beaten me – I’ve got about an 11 year old phone from my last workplace – a Siemens (I somehow never dare say that as I’m sure the pronunciation would make it sound dodgy! 😉 )

But you’re right about not getting involved or recorded in any way by the police – probably a very bad thing!

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1 11 2012
lanceleuven

Sadly, I’m not surprised. Still, on the bright side, you’ve earned a new ‘hard’ nickname. 😉

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2 11 2012
mountaincoward

Yeah, and knowing Richard, for quite a while too! LOL

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1 11 2012
fedupofuserids

I’ve been a victim of crime & received the customary letter with police incident letter to claim off our insurance. One of my fellow villagers is a member of the police force and he had ONE of his wheels stolen off his 20 odd year old car.

I’ve never seen so many police officers in our village, we even had officers conducting door to door – you would have thought there had been a murder !!

I wouldn’t bother putting in a complaint. If he is the sort of officer who is quite happy to threaten a member of the public with arrest (whilst trying to assist the police), then he is also the type of officer who would quite happily park up in your village & wait for you to drive past.

Even if you car tyres & lights are all fine its always at the most inconvenient moment when you get a roadside check.

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1 11 2012
Paul Shorrock

Sorry, but can’t agree with ‘fedupofuserids’.

If the cop is incompetent he needs advice as to what the legislation actually says – the Theft Act 1968 is ‘bread and butter’ stuff that every cop should know inside out.

If he’s a bully, he needs sorting out – police management in county areas like North Yorkshire is quite ‘switched on’ and accountable, and If a complaint resulted in some form of retaliation (e.g. a dubious roadside check) it’s the kind of behaviour that might be regarded as a sacking offence. He certainly wouldn’t get away with it more than once.

I wasn’t a manager myself BTW, just a humble PC for 25 years, but I can’t be doing with the attitude that the police can’t be challenged when they do wrong, for fear of retribution.

Rant over 🙂

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1 11 2012
fedupofuserids

No need to rant 🙂

It must be the differences of police forces and the attitudes of a very few of it officers.
I’m not anti police, some of my friends are actually in the police just I have heard (first hand) / or seen instances that would probably be classed as an abuse of power.

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1 11 2012
Paul Shorrock

I was a cop for 25 years, and agree totally with the two comments above.

You could still make a complaint, as the coppers number will show on the incident log. This isn’t being vindictive – this guy is either abusing his authority or doesn’t know the law. Either way, a supervisor or manager should be having a word with him.

As for point 2, not only is there clearly no ‘intention permanently to deprive’, but I would also argue that there was no ‘dishonest appropriation’ which is another element of the offence of theft.

And just for the record, you would have been quite within your rights to ask him to leave your house!

Don’t let this unfortunate episode put you off helping the police in future – the job is difficult enough even when the police have the full support of the public.

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1 11 2012
mountaincoward

I have to admit that my main thoughts today are, if I see such a bag in future, just to lob it down onto the roadside (where it will be cleared up quite quickly – usually within the day) and forget about it. It has put me off quite a bit. I might go and have a word with the police and get them to explain properly what they think I did wrong and how they think I should deal with it next time. But I would have gone to court about it for sure as I don’t think they would have got very far!

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2 11 2012
Paul Shorrock

The file would never have got as far as CPS!

As for asking the police what you did wrong, the answer is NOTHING! You behaved in a public spirited way, and I hope it won’t put you off.

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1 11 2012
jester1970

Very simple thing to do: put a complaint in to his bosses. If you ever have problems with the attitude of the police, make sure you note their number.

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1 11 2012
mountaincoward

Thanks Jester – I’ve been toying with the idea of complaining – perhaps I should send them a link to this post and tell them it’s my ‘statement’ 😉

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1 11 2012
stravaigerjohn

This cop is wrong in law. The Theft Act 1968 as amended makes it perfectly clear that you are only guilty of theft if you intend to deprive the owner of the property PERMANENTLY – note the last word.

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1 11 2012
mountaincoward

Well I suppose my first reaction, when I thought it was fly-tipping, was just to send the phone to it’s proper place in my eyes, i.e. a charity recycling bag. So that would have deprived the owner permanently. So, possibly I would technically have been guilty – but my intent wasn’t that of theft as I honestly thought the owner had dumped it there.

It’s definitely a tricky one. I partly put out my humorous take on the incident because I genuinely didn’t understand what I’d done wrong to be accused of theft or how to deal with it properly if it happens again. I also put it out to cheer myself up – I was full of righteous anger all evening until I wrote the post and put funny pictures in it – then I was giggling by the time I went to bed – so it was certainly therapeutic!

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4 11 2012
jester1970

Two quick points:
1. Charity recycling bags- usually only a fraction of what is raised goes to charity, sometimes pennies in the pound. I’ve read the small print on some of these which say that for example £40 per tonne goes to charity. There are 1000 kilos in a tonne. My local “Cash For Clothes” shop pays 40p per kilo (some pay more, up to 50p per kilo). That’s £400 to £500 per tonne! Of which the charity hets a couple of quid. All legal and above board. If you want to give old clothes etc to charity, take them to somewhere such as Cash For Clothes, get the money and send it direct to the charity.
2. If you see rubbish that has been fly-tipped, take a photo and report it at http://www.fixmystreet.com. It’s far less stressful…

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5 05 2014
mountaincoward

Thanks for the ink to the fly-tipping reporting – great stuff 🙂

As to the charity recycling of phones etc. – I was just not wanting to see it go (eventually) to landfill and thought it better that they receive a few pence for it than no-one. They must think it’s worthwhile themselves or they wouldn’t keep sending me envelopes…

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