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Good news/bad news
February 18, 2006 10:01 PM   Subscribe

When good samaritans go bad, and find lost property they'd rather keep, they make up excuses like "but now he's been using it for a week and he really loves it and we can't bear to take it from him" and "we had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card". Stay tuned for vigilante justice.
posted by pivotal (131 comments total)

 
A small nit: the procedures for recovering lost property to which you linked govern lost property recovered or kept by state agencies, not private individuals.

As for the bad samaritans: Christ, what an asshole.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:05 PM on February 18, 2006


Just saw this on BoingBoing. It seems as though half of the commenters are saying "POST INFO WE WILL 'CONVINCE' THEM" and the rest either are sympathetic or trolling ("were [sic] is the proof?").

I remain incredulous, but if this a true story, this is pretty awful.
posted by jenovus at 10:07 PM on February 18, 2006


This goes to show that all Canadians are untrustworthy.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:13 PM on February 18, 2006


This is a true story. Judith is the one that lost the camera and I talked with her over IM about it earlier today. It really happened and it's really astounding.
posted by mathowie at 10:13 PM on February 18, 2006


Wow... its one thing to steal someone's camera and live with those consequences and guilt... its entirely another to make the good faith steps and then pull out. Just taking the camera seems like the more honest thing to do... all they did was alleviate some guilt by sending the photographs back. Not to mention raise and then crush the victim's hopes of getting the camera back.

Who lets their child get attached to a piece of property they think may have a chance of being returned?

I'm in the "post the info, and let the internet guide their conscience" crowd.
posted by thanatogenous at 10:20 PM on February 18, 2006


It is a totally bizarre story. I can just imagine the gut-sinking feeling one would get as the 'good' samaritan slowly turned bad as the phone call progressed.

As thanatogenous said, why not just freaking take the camera and never call about it? Not sure about posting the info though. There are too many freaks out there on the internets to risk the consequences.
posted by pivotal at 10:25 PM on February 18, 2006


I love the smell of vigilante justice in the morning. Smells like... victory.
posted by keswick at 10:25 PM on February 18, 2006


Wow. Judith is well-connected and well-loved in the blog universe. I suspect they are making a mistake that they will soon regret...

(to be clear: Judith is a nice person but she may have set things in motion beyond her control)
posted by vacapinta at 10:32 PM on February 18, 2006


Jesus christ what a bitch!
posted by delmoi at 10:36 PM on February 18, 2006


delmoi, i assume you are referring to the camera.
posted by jenovus at 10:40 PM on February 18, 2006


Yeah, I mean wow. It's one thing to just take a camera and keep it, its totally another to take it, dangle hope in front of the loser, and then just take it away like that. It's like rubbing salt in someone's wounds!

On top of that they offered to send back the memory card, and then decided that even that was too much work!

Furthermore I can't believe the Canadian police would just sit on their ass like that. Jesus. How is it a "US issue"? The thieves (and that’s what they are, at this point) live in Canada. Its their job to deal with it now.

Maybe some of our Canadian friends can call the police on the losers' behalf? Of course, that would require publishing her address. Maybe he could give the address to a few people up there.

Ugh.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 PM on February 18, 2006


delmoi, i assume you are referring to the camera.

?

I am refering to "the woman who reported the camera missing".
posted by delmoi at 10:44 PM on February 18, 2006


Pivotal, too bad you missed a chance to name the thread 'We have cameras'
posted by Space Kitty at 10:44 PM on February 18, 2006


I was kidding.
posted by jenovus at 10:46 PM on February 18, 2006


Wow, what dicks. Yeah, way to teach your kid to "do the right thing" jerkwads. What nine year old needs an expensive camera to play with? Get him his own cheap point and shoot camera to play with an in a month he'll have forgotten all about the stolen one.

Of course, I say this acting like the kid is the main reason they won't give it back. What a bullshit excuse. More likely Mom got more familiar with using the camera and realized that she didn't want to give it back after all.

I also can't believe how unhelpful the police were. How is someone in your town being in possession of stolen goods a "US issue"? Does it really matter if they stole it while out of the country? I'll admit to not being familiar with where the law would stand in this case.

Although I can't entirely agree will publishing Mr. and Mrs. Jerkwad's contact info, I'm all for publishing the contact info of the police department in question. Maybe if the good people of the internet applied some pressure the police would take some action and intervene.
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:47 PM on February 18, 2006


If it were me, I would fly to canada myself and demand the camera on her doorstop.
posted by delmoi at 10:47 PM on February 18, 2006


The one honest cop in Chicago found $320,000 at Midway Wednesday morning. I was there later that day to see a friend off and ever since I read about in the paper I've been annoyed that she didn't have an earlier flight. And he turned it in to the mint, which lost it en route to the Federal Reserve! What the hell's the point of of giving cash to the fucking United States mint, ferchrissake!?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:48 PM on February 18, 2006


And it looks like delmoi and I are on the same wavelength about this.
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:49 PM on February 18, 2006


Yeah, I lost my phone on Waikiki beach a couple months ago. I left it uncancelled for a week trying to call it back. It was being turned on and off, but wouldn't answer my friend's cell numbers, nor return texts asking for the phone. Checking the bill it had called plenty of local numbers. Was my phone stolen?

That's a fucked up story, talking to the people and all, and they're fucked up people, but that 9 year old wasn't exactly rifling through the guys belongings.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 10:51 PM on February 18, 2006


What a horrible sow! And not only is she a criminal, she's breeding! Ugh. I say publish the contact info for her local police, and inundate them with calls and emails.
posted by onegreeneye at 10:57 PM on February 18, 2006


Someone in the comments in the blog post suggested reporting it to the local paper and reporting what happened. In depends on how big the town is, but I think the strangeness of the story, coupled with the local police force's unwillingness to do anything could be newsworthy.

Seriously, Judith if you're reading, publish the name of the town these people live in (not their names or phone number) and the contact info for the Mayor's office and the police department. A lot of bad publicity can do wonders.
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:57 PM on February 18, 2006


Yeah, I agree that posting contact info for the PD and town would be a good idea. I understand not wanting to publish their actual names and addresses, although personally I don't think I'm that forgiving.
posted by delmoi at 11:00 PM on February 18, 2006


What is supposed to happen if the Mayor's office's contact info gets posted? A bunch of people call up and say that they heard that there is someone in town who has a stolen camera, but that they don't really know who, or where the person lives?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:09 PM on February 18, 2006


I understand not wanting to publish their actual names and addresses

Okay okay, but how about a phone number, at least? I'm pretty sure plenty of people out there would put their best efforts into "convincing" her until she gets sick of the phone ringing off the wall.

Seriously, this whole episode is morally repugnant, and the fact that there are people out there who would act like this makes me see red.

Steal the camera? Fine, that happens all the time. But to say "We have your camera, but we're not giving it back because it's really neat, and we aren't even giving back your memory cards because we need them to make it work" is pathetic.

Which makes me think - was the camera insured? I would hope so if it's expensive. I'm sure the insurance company would love to know the woman's address, too.
posted by Jimbob at 11:15 PM on February 18, 2006


What is supposed to happen if the Mayor's office's contact info gets posted? A bunch of people call up and say that they heard that there is someone in town who has a stolen camera, but that they don't really know who, or where the person lives?

Well, presumably the mayors office will know about it. The police already do.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 PM on February 18, 2006


If the asshat is in the Okanagan, BC, I will be delighted to help her claim her camera. I will act as contact with the RCMP, I will talk to the mayor, I will contact the local newspaper, a lawyer, whatever is needed. Details on my user page.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:44 PM on February 18, 2006


Weird... what is it with the blogosphere and cameras?
posted by gsteff at 12:03 AM on February 19, 2006


I hate 'me-too'-filled one-hit-wonder blog comment threads, but I'm glad I got far enough in to see this:

You should let us know what city or province they're in. . . let me guess, Alberta? It's Alberta, right? This just seems like the kind of thing an Albertan would do.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:04 AM on February 19, 2006


Some other ideas to try:

The Canadian police said it was a U.S. issue? So maybe Judith could contact the police department where the camera was found and they could transfer the case up tp Canada? Maybe they'd have more luck getting the Canadian cops interested.

Judith could find out what school district the family lives in, and write a letter to the principal of the elementary school there. Then write to the family and let them know she's done this. Even if the school doesn't want to get involved, the mother would have to feel ashamed that they know what she's done.

Also, keep checking ebay for this camera. I'm not sure I buy the idea that the woman is going to let the child keep the camera. Why diid she even look up the price if she's not going to try to profit from it?
posted by hazyjane at 12:18 AM on February 19, 2006


Which makes me think - was the camera insured? I would hope so if it's expensive. I'm sure the insurance company would love to know the woman's address, too.

Why would you be so sure it's insured? None of my expensive items are insured, and I would bet that I'm not the only one for whom this is true. It was worth only worth $500, so it's not like it was necessarily something the average person (without homeowner's or renter's insurance) would consider worth covering with insurance.
posted by Jesse H Christ at 12:30 AM on February 19, 2006


Not returning lost or abandoned property is, as far as my research has discovered, not a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. It's not theft up here, and I assume that the folks in this thread and others who are labelling the camera as 'stolen' live in jurisdictions where it would be considered theft. Canada isn't one of them. Based on my search through the Criminal Code, natch, which has merely borne out what I remember being taught in Guidance class in elementary school. The old "if you found a wallet with $100 in it, what would you do?" Someone would always ask if it was against the law to keep it, and the answer was always no, it wasn't illegal.

In Canada, it appears, the finder of property which has been lost or abandoned and who takes that property into his or her care and control has some rights over that property. However, if the owner of the property is known, the rights of the finder are limited. But the original owner may still need to prove mens rea to claim the property, and that may be difficult when there is a child involved who originally recovered the property. And, even more frustratingly, there's different case law for 'lost' versus 'mislaid' property.

But this is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. And, no, you will have very little luck getting a judgment against the family in an American court and having a lien placed on their property in Canada. You'll have to take them to court in Canada. And that'll cost more than the camera is worth.

They're asshats, but there's nothing the police could do (and y'all want to be very careful making repeated complaints to the police), nor is it worth seeking a civil claim.

Name-and-shame is the only remedy I can see working.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:33 AM on February 19, 2006


Always thought Canadians were kinda like Murkens, only nicer. Guess we need to update our Aesop:
Propinquity breeds contempt.
posted by rob511 at 12:33 AM on February 19, 2006


Please God... I am begging you.

Please let this woman's email address become public record!

F*cking C*nt!!!
posted by roguescout at 1:23 AM on February 19, 2006


solid-one-love, the crime happened in Hawaii, so Hawaii's laws would apply, not Canada's.
posted by Malor at 1:43 AM on February 19, 2006


(to be clear: Judith is a nice person but she may have set things in motion beyond her control)

yeah - i certainly wasn't intending for this to be more than me expressing my incredulity, frustration & anger. i won't be posting anyone's name and/or address, since, unlike my new acquaintances in canada, i have a keen sense of ethical behavior. thanks for all your good wishes, though.
posted by judith at 3:30 AM on February 19, 2006


What the blazes does her son having diabetes have to do with anything? If it was an insulin kit they'd found and decided to keep, I could understand it, but it's not, it's a camera. Sheesh.

Here's hoping this woman grows a conscience and returns the thing.
posted by MrMustard at 7:03 AM on February 19, 2006


Whether or not this is real, I suspect we will see a proliferation of copycat sites. A blog with no original content except one story gets on metafilter, boingboing, etc, generating huge traffic. Kind of like the ebay items with some kind of funny story (selling stuff to punish kids, ex-wife's stuff, ...). This is alot like the "price-rite camera" story, except it's a private party so there's an excuse not to publish the contact info.
posted by 445supermag at 8:39 AM on February 19, 2006


Judith, I really feel that you've ran into the wrong cops and there's plenty more you could do within reason to make sure this jerk doesn't continually profit from their crime (and teach their kid that stealing is A-ok).

Contact the media. If the jerks are in BC, and I can give you the contact information for people who relish this type of story. If elsewhere, I have a few media contacts across Canada.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:52 AM on February 19, 2006


canada@canadianembassy.org

There's the email address to the Canadian Embassy in the U.S.. They might be concerned enough with Canada's image to make their own inquiry, that is, if they receive enough polite letters about the subject.

Course, they might not care at all.
posted by Atreides at 9:00 AM on February 19, 2006


"Well," she said, "we have a bit of a situation. You see, my nine year old son found your camera, and we wanted to show him to do the right thing, so we called, but now he's been using it for a week and he really loves it and we can't bear to take it from him."

So do what a responsible parent would do in such a situation: go buy him his own fucking camera.

I'd out the theiving bastards.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:01 AM on February 19, 2006


It was worth only worth $500, so it's not like it was necessarily something the average person (without homeowner's or renter's insurance) would consider worth covering with insurance.

Well, since it costs us $33.00/year for the rider that covers our camera, I'm surprised more people DON'T insure them. It's more money than I'd want to be out on one person's dishonesty or my own stupidity, for sure.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2006


Hello, Judith! Very sorry about losing your camera.


I still think you should post the names and addresses, though. Otherwise, you're simply encouraging them to do the wrong thing.

In an earlier, more relaxed day, I'd have said to leave it alone, but the few good people in the world are seeming to be overrun by assholes who seem to get especial pleasure in using our own moral code against us.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:21 AM on February 19, 2006


Once a woman found a $50 giftcard where I worked. She came up and offered it to us. We lock them up for a month and give them back to the finder if they aren't claimed. As soon as we explained what we did with them, she started having second thoughts and decided the best way to handle it was to take it with her and leave her phone number.
posted by drezdn at 9:26 AM on February 19, 2006


i won't be posting anyone's name and/or address, since, unlike my new acquaintances in canada, i have a keen sense of ethical behavior.

Excuse me, Ms. I have a keen sense of ethical behaviour, and I'll even go so far as to say that it is at least equal to yours.

Perhaps even greater, because I want to help ensure that the right thing is done: that the camera be returned to you.

If the thieves live in the Okanagan valley, I am willing to drive to any of the police HQs and hassle them into action. If a small claims court action is required, I am willing to put a few hours into handling that. If a letter to the editor or contact with a local reporter is required, I will do that as well.

This is all above-board, ethical, honest, and the right thing to do. I'm not going to bring the pain down upon them, but I do wish to see you pursue every legal and ethical means of ensuring that your property is returned to you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2006


Not returning lost or abandoned property is, as far as my research has discovered, not a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Dosn't removing the camera from a public location count as theft? I mean, if I saw a nice camcorder sitting on a table in a resturant, and just took it, I would consider that theft.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2006


fff: I don't know about canada, but in the US the agreved party actualy has to show up in court themselves.
posted by delmoi at 9:52 AM on February 19, 2006


> i won't be posting anyone's name and/or address

Sounds like something a quitter would say. You were robbed, disrespected, and probably lied to because they looked up this camera, found out what it was worth, and told you get lost. And you're making yourself lost. Oh well, if you want to donate a camera to some Canadians then don't complain about it. Why you're hiding their names is beyond me.

I don't understand the "ethics" of getting robbed and then suddenly being okay with it because you don't want to hassle the theives.
posted by skallas at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2006


This goes to show that all Canadians are untrustworthy.

*pickpockets Kwanstar*

Wow, this is a messed up situation, and what a crappy parent this woman is, gah. Judith you should pursue this as far as you can, take up fff's offer if he's in the same region as the thieves. Let me know if my godmother or i can help you, we live and work in Toronto & Hamilton. My email is in my profile. Personally I would publish their name & phone number if all else fails.
posted by zarah at 10:01 AM on February 19, 2006


I understand why you don't want to publish their contact info and I agree with you. That said, I think going to the local news media - TV and newspaper - is a really good idea. Particularly if it's a slow news day, this is the kind of thing they might get behind and it's probably your only chance to get your camera back. Also, these people deserve to be humiliated - their behavior is ridiculous and evil whether they have a kid with diabetes or anything else.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2006


Bet a nickel she doesn't even have a kid, and the camera was sold as soon as she downloaded your photos (looking for porn, no doubt).
You're a big disappointment to her, Judith.
posted by cookie-k at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2006


The best part is where they claim they spent money on a charger and memory cards.....and then refuse to return the memory cards belonging to the original owner because "we need them to make the camera work." I'm with cookie-k: how do we know they even have a kid?
posted by availablelight at 10:41 AM on February 19, 2006


You're lucky we sent you anything at all. Most people wouldn't do that.

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but she's probably right. I once found a cell phone and didn't bother to return it (how would I do so, btw?). I just left it on a street corner.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:45 AM on February 19, 2006


judith- i'm glad you are keeping a cool head about this, and think you are doing the right thing by not posting the info. if you believe half of what responders are saying, this family would be mobbed.

i don't understand the emotion in most of these responses... the way most people are talking it is as if finding it and returning only the photos is worse than stealing it out of your car or bag and never saying anything.

save the mob for more important things...
posted by cgs at 10:48 AM on February 19, 2006


While I agree that posting the name and address of the family would be unethical, letting out the name of the town (or province) wouldn't. Press reports would hopefully be generated by a story like this and the local Canadian news will pick it up, and wouldn't it be a surprise to this "good samaritan". We just need to give this meme a little nudge so that it jumps the rails into the 4th estate.
posted by gallois at 10:50 AM on February 19, 2006


While I agree that posting the name and address of the family would be unethical

Why would it be unethical? What's unethical about it?

It might be unethical if the allegations weren't true, but there's nothing unethical about naming thieves. Every newspaper in the world does it on a daily basis.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2006


In fact, you could even argue that it's unethical not to name them, because by failing to do so you may well be allowing other people to be exploited and victimized by their unscrupulous behaviour.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2006


i don't understand the emotion in most of these responses...

It's derived from empathy. Most people who respond out of anger in situations like this do so because they can empathize with the feelings of frustration and shock that the woman who lost the camera must be feeling.

Alternatively, if you empathize with the camera thieves, you might well be wondering what all the fuss is about. Finders keepers, and all that..
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:07 AM on February 19, 2006


We're not goons here, but it is undeniable that this community (and others, obviously) would be able to apply social pressure in order to shame the perpetrators... it would appear that there is a consensus on the (im)morrality of these people's actions.

*lights torch, grabs pitchfork, waits.*
posted by exlotuseater at 11:07 AM on February 19, 2006


Judith's friends should set up a paypal account for her though - I'd be more than happy to contribute to buying her a new camera. (I suppose Judith could do it herself but it might look tacky.)
posted by selfmedicating at 11:21 AM on February 19, 2006


These social rejects who will not return someone else's property (and the fact that a child is being taught the opposite of proper morality) have removed themselves from the Social Contract. They do not deserve consideration of either their privacy or their comfort.

Publish their names. Publish their number. Karma, as they say, is a bitch.

Perhaps if enough people remind them of the Social Contract then they will return the property that does not belong to them to the lady.
posted by geekhorde at 11:23 AM on February 19, 2006


ditto what exlotuseater said.
posted by geekhorde at 11:23 AM on February 19, 2006


"We're not goons here, "


speak for yourself...=)


< /protected>
posted by stenseng at 11:24 AM on February 19, 2006


I wouldnt publish their name and address, but I would publish the town and street name, just enough to get the neighbours gossiping which might make them rethink.
posted by Lanark at 11:32 AM on February 19, 2006


fff: I don't know about canada, but in the US the agreved party actualy has to show up in court themselves.
posted by delmoi at 9:52 AM PST on February 19 [!]


I assume you're not talking about a criminal court, as that isn't the case in the jurisdiction in which I work.

Peter McDermott: I disagree that the solution is to buy the kid a camera of his own (although I still want to have your baby). My kids have found many things in public that they wanted, from a tennis racket to money. The tennis racket was really nice, and my eldest really wanted it. We have always turned the items in to whomever made most sense for the locale (police, parks department, desk at the rec center) with the message that, no matter how much you want it, it isn't yours. My kids have also had the nice experience of having returned to them some very expensive batting gear they left at the park. The lesson goes both ways, eventually, and perhaps the kid in question will feel some guilt and disappointment in his parents when someone does him a kind turn.
posted by onegreeneye at 11:42 AM on February 19, 2006


If it was me, I'd give back the camera. However, these "thieves" are not thieves, or criminals, or bad people. They didn't steal it, they found it. It also seems to me that because they notified authorities in the first place, they did intend to give it back. Maybe their kid really did develop an attachment to the camera.

Of course I'd be pissed off at these people, I'd be happy I at least got my photos back. But the Police and the Canadian Embassy have better things to do with their time.

Also: the replacement flickr travel photos was a great idea.
posted by travosaurus at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2006


I like the way they try to guilt the guy as well as stealing his camera.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on February 19, 2006


Not to paint all small town Canadian cops with the lazy-ass useless just-there-to-set-up-speed-traps brush, but they can often be pretty useless; on a recent occasion my father had to retrieve a ATV that had been stolen from my parent's back yard because the vehicle was now on a First Nations Reservation, which was apparently out of the cop's jurisdiction *CoughBullshitCough*.

***

"Without the camera, our son could get even diabetier!!!"

Dirty bastards.
Found is found, but to contact the item's original owner and screw with them like that makes me sick - I'm still mulling over which scenario is worse, either they have no child and are using a fictionally ill kid because they're dirty cowards, or are teaching their son a terrible lesson that will bite them in the ass a few years down the road ("What is with kids and these feelings of entitlement? I blame that rap music!").

It isn't the way I would handle it, but I can respect Judith's position - washing one's hands of these scuzzy twats and the entire situation is the most expedient way to end this.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:01 PM on February 19, 2006


However, these "thieves" are not thieves, or criminals, or bad people. They didn't steal it, they found it.

Correction: they are bad people. There is absolutely no doubt of that. Greedy, selfish, rude, and mean-spirited jerks.

Please do not take the attitude that what they have done is all peachy-keen. We do not need a society that endorses their behaviour. We all can and should be better than that.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:21 PM on February 19, 2006


judith: Although you said that you would not post any emails or addresses, I urge you to send this thread, the boingboing article, and the blog post itself to these jackasses.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:44 PM on February 19, 2006


So yeah, Cory Doctorow, someone who I would assume would be familiar with the wilds of the Internet, urges Judith to post the family's info. Meanwhile, many comments on her post are of the form "They did something bad and should be taught a lesson. Lets go beat the shit out of them." with one commenter recommending she mail them child porn to get them in trouble. Yeah, unleashing the horrid tide of mob justice is the right ethical response here...
posted by vacapinta at 1:53 PM on February 19, 2006



solid-one-love, the crime happened in Hawaii, so Hawaii's laws would apply, not Canada's.


But the police in Canada will do nothing if a crime was committed in one country that is not a crime in Canada -- assuming that it's a crime in Hawaii, and nobody has shown this to be the case, anyway.

Dosn't removing the camera from a public location count as theft?


Only if (and not always if) there is mens rea. Since a 9-year-old kid (allegedly) found the camera, then no.

In any case: Judith doesn't want to name-and-shame, it's not worth it to sue, and the Canadian police will do nothing about it, so I'm going to recommend the Olympus FE-100 camera, which can be had for less than $150 US and which takes great pictures.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:54 PM on February 19, 2006


five fresh five: I'm not endorsing their behaviour, but I'm not demonizing their behaviour either, as (mostly) everyone else seems to be doing. They're probably decent people, even if they're greedy, rude, ignorant and unthoughtful.

I really wanna know what more about them, though, that's for sure. More information would easily change my mind, but all I have right now is a small amount of info and I don't exactly think people should be making such drastic statements and be proposing and internet-wide harassment campaign.
posted by travosaurus at 1:56 PM on February 19, 2006


This sucks! And, call me evil, but I am all for "outing" them - publish name, address, phone number, email, shoe size.

It's unfortunate that we live in a society where bad behavior, ill manners, and poor ethics are the norm, and the only way to make these idiots do the right thing is by shaming them into it.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 1:56 PM on February 19, 2006


Ok, this sucks, the people acted nastily, etc. But what's more amazing to me is how this has blown out of proportion like this. It's a camera - it's not like they stole a kidney or something. Millions of worse crimes and indignities are commited every single day.
posted by hazyjane at 2:16 PM on February 19, 2006


Outing would be ethically defensible as a way of preventing jerks from harmng other people in the future. It makes sense for crooked merchants, bad customer service lines, unreponsive landlords, and the like. It wouldn't serve that function here -- it's not as though the Canandians involved are going around stealing lots of cameras (just this one). No one else needs to be (or would be) warned to steer clear of them. Posting their names, or phone number, or anything else sufficient to identify them, would be purely retributive or as a way to deter others from being jerks like this. Judith's decision that outing them would on the whole do more harm than good seems to me correct.

What I find sad is how you can all but see someone's good instincts retreating and being swallowed up by their seflish instincts. From that perspective, further confrontation seems likely to backfire -- it'll just make them angrier and more and more willing to convince themselves that they were in the right all along.

Judith, I would send them a picture of yourself. A so-so quality picture (taken with, say, a dispoable camera). Write on the back of it that it's you, this is the person they're stealing from. They seem to have gone through a failure of empathy -- but not to be the sort of people who are just wholly without empathy to start with. I think that guilt and humanity are the only real way you've got now either to get your camera back or to get them to act decently.
posted by grimmelm at 2:26 PM on February 19, 2006


Grimmeln, they've already seen pictures of Judith. They were then courteous enough to send them back to her on a couple cds rather than her memory card.
posted by Atreides at 2:34 PM on February 19, 2006


I think that Judith is ethically correct in taking the moral high ground.

That said, the vigilante side of me would very much like to see the perps hung out to dry.
posted by dejah420 at 3:50 PM on February 19, 2006


hazyjane, I just stole your car. Hey! It's just a car. Millions of worse crimes are committed every day!
posted by onegreeneye at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2006


You misunderstood her argument. She was saying the response is not proportional to the magnitude of the crime and that's a reasonable thing to say. She's not saying there should be no response.
posted by vacapinta at 4:44 PM on February 19, 2006


Keeping property that does not belong to you may not be legally theft, but it is ethically theft. To pretend otherwise is just being willfully ignorant, or incredibly self deceiving.
posted by geekhorde at 4:59 PM on February 19, 2006


They're probably decent people, even if they're greedy, rude, ignorant and unthoughtful.

I'm confused by that statement. How low is the bar for "decent" these days? Non-homicidal?
posted by jrossi4r at 5:12 PM on February 19, 2006


Keeping property that does not belong to you may not be legally theft, but it is ethically theft. To pretend otherwise is just being willfully ignorant, or incredibly self deceiving.

If it isn't legally theft, it isn't theft. This opinion is merely pedantic, and not ignorant nor self-deceiving.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:08 PM on February 19, 2006


Atreides: yes, but I think it still pushes the guilt-trip button more effectively than getting the pictures back from them.
posted by grimmelm at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2006


They're probably decent people, even if they're greedy, rude, ignorant and unthoughtful.

Actually, being greedy, rude, ignorant, and unthoughtful precludes them from being decent people. What, exactly, would they have to do for you to feel otherwise? What if they kept someone else's purse? Watch? Car?

It also would be perfectly ethical to post their information, but at this point most observers are correct in thinking that the response would probably far outweigh the crime.

In my opinion the local paper would be the best venue for shaming them into returning the camera. Or the local "investigative" TV station. Having a cameraman on their doorstep while some pushy reporter asks them "Why won't you just give back the camera?" would probably get results within hours.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:46 PM on February 19, 2006


i won't be posting anyone's name and/or address, since, unlike my new acquaintances in canada, i have a keen sense of ethical behavior.
You and I have a different understanding of ethics and what constitutes a moral high ground. There's a world of difference between being a respectable, civilized, well-behaved human being, and being a spineless pushover who shrugs and says, "Oh, well. The bully stole my bicycle. I guess there's nothing I can do."
posted by cribcage at 10:18 PM on February 19, 2006


i'm still pursuing this through legal and official channels, not shrugging and being a pushover. between this site, my blog, gizmodo, digg, somethingawful, monkeyfilter, and the various other internet forums and blogs discussing this story (all of which surprises me immensely, but i guess it's a slow news day) there are over a thousand people clamoring for the names and addresses.

despite feeling like i'm clearly in the right here, there are two sides to every story and if someone i cared about or someone you cared about was on the other side of this story, would you want a thousand people on the internet knowing their personal contact information? i wouldn't.
posted by judith at 11:25 PM on February 19, 2006


"You go, girl!" - as they say in your country, if television is to be believed, which I certainly hope it is.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:28 AM on February 20, 2006


i'm still pursuing this through legal and official channels, not shrugging and being a pushover.

Good for you.

I do admire your restraint; like many others, I'd be so enraged if this happened to me, I'd probably do something rash that I'd later regret.
posted by Gator at 5:48 AM on February 20, 2006


This would have been a marvelous example for the parents to show the kid that doing the right thing isn't always easy, painless, or cost-free? The ethical thing would have been to return the camera immediately.

How can they expect the kid to be honest with small stuff when they've shown him that doing the right thing can be waved off when you can come up with any sort of justification whatsoever?

Once when I'd been unemployed for about a month I spotted a purse someone left in a grocery cart. I was damn tempted to go through it and grab the cash - but figured the money I'd get wouldn't make up for the ethical damage I'd do to myself. So I took it back into the grocery and gave to to the manager. The owner of the purse called up and offerred a reward - I was rather curt to her in the refusal, because by then I was thinking I could really have used the cash in the purse and was kicking myself for not grabbing it before turning it in, but I'd already made what I considered a moral choice and was obligated to follow it up.

Perhaps there's an 'ethical window' of opportunity - it's relatively easy to do the right thing right away, but as time goes on it's tougher to justify giving up something you want/like. Sounds like their window slammed shut pretty fast - but for the sake of the kid they should have pried it open again and tossed the camera back to the owner.
posted by JB71 at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2006


This reminds me of the time I drove to Canada, snatched a diabetic kid and secreted him or her in my trunk for the long ride home.

Sure, it woulda been easy to keep the little tyke for myself. But sometimes you gotta do what's right, no matter what the cost. But I really do wish - and here the prosecuting attorney and I are in complete agreement - I wish I'd made a few damn air holes in the trunk first.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:26 AM on February 20, 2006


Show the "samaritan" the link to this page and to the link on the original blog posting with the thousands of comments calling for the release of their name and address. That should scare them into returning the camera.
posted by alidarbac at 8:17 AM on February 20, 2006


Speed holes, quidnunc. They're called speed holes.
posted by todbot at 8:29 AM on February 20, 2006


Judith: Give us the address. C'mon... I wanna know where I should steer clear of when I'm in Canada, less some diabetic naif swipes my car and solid-one-love stands to defend him.
posted by klangklangston at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2006


So yeah, Cory Doctorow, someone who I would assume would be familiar with the wilds of the Internet, urges Judith to post the family's info. Meanwhile, many comments on her post are of the form "They did something bad and should be taught a lesson. Lets go beat the shit out of them." with one commenter recommending she mail them child porn to get them in trouble. Yeah, unleashing the horrid tide of mob justice is the right ethical response here...

Hear, hear, vacapinta.

Look folks, judith is not going to share the address nor the names with the electroweb; she's already taking all available legal steps. Consider that anything approaching "mob justice" may put her in a bad light. As for Cory, it's pretty damn stupid and wreckless of him to incite the mob.
posted by Avogadro at 8:47 AM on February 20, 2006


This goes to show that all Canadians are untrustworthy. - Kwantsar

Execpt me. So send me all your $ and valuable possessions and I will keep them safe from all those other dangerous Canadians. =)
posted by raedyn at 9:21 AM on February 20, 2006


To answer the question of whether this is legally theft, here are the legal references I dug up for the AskMe thread on this topic:

According to Hawaii law, Section 708-830(3), the camera-finder has committed theft in the second degree, which is a Class C felony.

If this act had taken place in Canada, the camera-finder has still committed theft as defined by Part IX, Article 322(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. So it's against the law in both countries.

Canada and the U.S. have a mutual assistance treaty in criminal matters that may apply to this case.
posted by naomi at 9:35 AM on February 20, 2006


As I replied in AskMe:

Subsection 3 doesn't actually indicate that an offense is committed if the property is not returned, merely that an offense is committed if the original owner is not notified.

And I don't see how the citation of the Criminal Code applies.

Further, the camera was allegedly found by a nine-year-old child, who cannot be charged with a crime under Canadian law anyway, making the issue of whether a crime was committed under Canadian law moot.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:55 AM on February 20, 2006


Wow, what dicks. Yeah, way to teach your kid to "do the right thing" jerkwads. - kosher_jenny

Apparently, the 'right thing' is that you have to return found items - unless you like them. If you like them, you're free to keep them, even when you've found the correct owner. I'll make a note in my little black book. I might start "finding" stuff in other people's houses. Super!

Well, presumably the mayors office will know about it. The police already do. - delmoi

What you do you base that presumption on? Say these weirdos live in a moderately sized Canadian city - Calgary* for example, with 1 million people - do you really think the Mayor's office knows every call to the Police Department in a city of a million? Come on.

*not intended to be slight on Calgary

I think Judith is taking the high road here by not publishing their contact info. I can only hope I would have been so noble.
posted by raedyn at 10:34 AM on February 20, 2006


despite feeling like i'm clearly in the right here, there are two sides to every story and if someone i cared about or someone you cared about was on the other side of this story, would you want a thousand people on the internet knowing their personal contact information? i wouldn't.

I admire your principles.

If you have the offenders' e-mail address, you might want to e-mail them one of the threads, to let them know that there's an angry Internet mob after them. Make it clear that it's not a threat, you have every intention of keeping their identities private. But knowing that there's thousands of people who despise them might disturb their peace of mind sufficiently for them to be a little more motivated to do the right thing.
posted by russilwvong at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2006


I dunno; they could interpret that as a (veiled) threat. Were I Judith, I'd already be concerned at this point that the Dicksmack Family is getting ready to accuse her of harassment just from the phone calls and so forth.
posted by Gator at 10:46 AM on February 20, 2006


Then again, they might be the kind of people who dismiss we "internet folk" as pimply nerds who jerk off to Star Trek reruns and still live with Mom. And - as crazy as it sounds - they might not really give a fuck what we think.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:47 AM on February 20, 2006


Subsection 3 doesn't actually indicate that an offense is committed if the property is not returned, merely that an offense is committed if the original owner is not notified.

Yes, sorry, the correct citation in this case is Subsection 1 of Hawaii's Section 708-830. And it doesn't matter whether the 9-year-old was the one who found the camera originally; the mother is in possession of stolen property and refusing to return it, which is still theft and is covered under Subsection 7.

Canadian theft law likely does not apply. I included that citation because people in the AskMe thread were suggesting that some type of "finders keepers" rule might exist.
posted by naomi at 11:46 AM on February 20, 2006


Considering folks are saying things like "This reminds me of the time I drove to Canada, snatched a diabetic kid...
I wish I'd made a few damn air holes in the trunk first" is it any wonder Judith doesn't post the info of Creepy Family?

Judith, I hope you contact the Hawaiian authorities and begin the process in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. The fact that they contacted the authorities themselves initially must have generated some sort of report or incident # that can be referenced, and hopefully work against them. Good luck.
posted by onegreeneye at 12:46 PM on February 20, 2006


Yes, sorry, the correct citation in this case is Subsection 1 of Hawaii's Section 708-830.

And, like the Criminal Code section you quoted, I don't think it applies; that's the subsection for "vanilla" theft. There was no intent to deprive, in any case, since they did report the camera to the park service as having been found. And subsection 7 doesn't apply, because "receiving stolen property" properly refers to property stolen by someone else.

And whether or not the mother is in possession is dubious; minor children may possess property in Canada. It may well be the same in Hawaii -- but if it isn't, it doesn't matter, because the police will not pursue charges against a Canadian citizen for crimes in another country that are not crimes in Canada (they won't charge you or extradite you for drinking in Saudi Arabia once you've come home, as a clear example).

And all of this is irrelevant, because it ceased to be a crime even notionally when Judith allowed them to keep the camera. The only legal issue now is the verbal contract whereby they offered to return the memory cards in exchange for $50.

(And just to be clear, I think the people holding the camera are in the wrong, are bad people, and deserve their bad karma; I'm just very sure that no criminal act has occurred. I'm just debating the issue of criminal liability, not defending the Jerk Family.)
posted by solid-one-love at 12:54 PM on February 20, 2006


“We should go down there, get some guys together, y'know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them.” - Woody Allen


....'course they're not Nazis or anything...BUT THEY COULD BE!
posted by Smedleyman at 1:05 PM on February 20, 2006


Further, the camera was allegedly found by a nine-year-old child, who cannot be charged with a crime under Canadian law anyway, making the issue of whether a crime was committed under Canadian law moot.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:55 AM CST on February 20 [!]


This cannot be the case. If a 9 year old were to walk into a store and carry a plasma tv out to his parents waiting in the parking lot, you are saying there would be no way for charges to be brought against either the child or the parents?

That's certainly how I'm reading you. Children can't "steal". So, if it wasn't "stolen" then the parents aren't receiving "stolen" goods.

I have a feeling such a loophole would have already crippled the Canadian economy.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:44 PM on February 20, 2006


This cannot be the case. If a 9 year old were to walk into a store and carry a plasma tv out to his parents waiting in the parking lot, you are saying there would be no way for charges to be brought against either the child or the parents?

Not against the child, no (ever); a child under the age of 12 cannot be charged with a crime under Canadian law. Not theft, not murder, not anything.

A parent receiving stolen property from a child could be prosecuted, yes. But your example is a poor analogy, since at the minimum, this was not a case of simple theft, and IMHO, it wasn't a crime at all.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:08 PM on February 20, 2006


No offense or nothin', Solid-one-love, but your grasp of the law doesn't seem to impress me very much. I'd bet that any Canadian criminal lawyer would disagree with you.
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on February 20, 2006


There was no intent to deprive, in any case, since they did report the camera to the park service as having been found.

And then refused to return that camera to the person they KNOW is the rightful owner, and they are continuing to intentionally deprive the owner of her camera. How else would you define "intent to deprive"?

I don't wish to argue nuances of intent -- that would be a matter for a judge to decide, not for the police to consider. I am simply pointing out that the camera-finder did commit a second degree theft under the relevant statute. If these people were still in Hawaii and the camera owner wanted to press charges for that theft, she would have every right to do so under the law.

Oooh, Ynoxas... if you can supply the 9-year-old with sticky fingers, I'll drive the U-Haul.
posted by naomi at 2:18 PM on February 20, 2006




Then call one. Or respond to my points. I have responded clearly to cited sources. You may disagree with those points all you like, and I encourage you to do so rather than merely going for the ad hominem. I'm not impressed by Naomi's grasp of the law, either, but I have shown her enough respect to answer her points clearly and honestly.

I am simply pointing out that the camera-finder did commit a second degree theft under the relevant statute.

You are simply pointing out that you believe that they did so. I disagree, as any two rational people can honestly do.

(To follow up on my previous post, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, whereby a child is defined as being a person under the age of 12; the Act covers crimes committed by young people (ages 12 to 17). Children cannot be charged or tried.)

posted by solid-one-love at 2:29 PM on February 20, 2006


Oy. Malformed. Let's try that again.

No offense or nothin', Solid-one-love, but your grasp of the law doesn't seem to impress me very much. I'd bet that any Canadian criminal lawyer would disagree with you.

Then call one. Or respond to my points. I have responded clearly to cited sources. You may disagree with those points all you like, and I encourage you to do so rather than merely going for the ad hominem. I'm not impressed by Naomi's grasp of the law, either, but I have shown her enough respect to answer her points clearly and honestly.

I am simply pointing out that the camera-finder did commit a second degree theft under the relevant statute.

You are simply pointing out that you believe that they did so. I disagree, as any two rational people can honestly do.

(To follow up on my previous post, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, whereby a child is defined as being a person under the age of 12; the Act covers crimes committed by young people (ages 12 to 17). Children cannot be charged or tried.)
posted by solid-one-love at 2:31 PM on February 20, 2006


I'd bet that any Canadian criminal lawyer would disagree with you. - klangklangston

With what part? As the law stands right now, children under 12 cannot be charged with any criminal offence in Canada. SOL is right about that much at least. I don't know enough to know if the parents could be charged with anything in this case under Canadian law (had this happened in Canada).
posted by raedyn at 2:44 PM on February 20, 2006


SOL: I'm with you on the part about kids.

You're saying that "found" is different than "stolen"? So this camera was "found" so therefore the parents are not accepting "stolen" goods?

Even if the person who's stuff you "found" asks for it back?

IANAL in the US or Canada, but "finding" a camera on a table seems to change significantly when the person asks for it back.

If I leave my coat on a chair, and go to the restroom in a restaurant, when I come back, can you have "found" my jacket and keep it?

This all seems very strange to me. It seems like it would have been badly, badly abused if this were the case.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:58 PM on February 20, 2006


I am simply pointing out that the camera-finder did commit a second degree theft under the relevant statute. If these people were still in Hawaii and the camera owner wanted to press charges for that theft, she would have every right to do so under the law. - naomi

You may be right about that. But since they aren't still in Hawaii more than one statute becomes relevant. The treaties about extradition and cooperation in criminal investigations require that the alleged event is a crime in both countries. solid one love is making a case (that I can neither refute nor confirm) that while it may be a crime in Hawaii, it's not a crime in Canada. IF the poster is correct about this, then Canadian authorites are not supposed to 'investiage' something that isn't even a crime here in Canada.

All this about Canadian law only came up because some people couldn't believe that the Canadian police wouldn't act on the information. But guess what? As much as this was a sucky thing for these people to do to judith, it's a minor crime on the grand scale of things. There are many other similar petty crimes that go without police action.

When I worked at a gas station and we had drive-offs (aka "Gas n Go" or "pump n run") we could call the police right then with a detailed description of the perp, the vehicle, and the plate number, and they just gave us a file number and that was it. Eventually they told us they weren't going to act on those calls so please stop making them, instead we had to go down to the police station with pictures printed off of our camera system to file a report. We heard back on about 3% of these.

It sucks. But if my police are instead spending their time responding quickly to domestic dispute calls or investigating homocides or finding people that skipped bail or broke conditions of release, I'm okay with that. These are more important police jobs, IMO.
posted by raedyn at 3:03 PM on February 20, 2006


You're saying that "found" is different than "stolen"? So this camera was "found" so therefore the parents are not accepting "stolen" goods?

That's how it appears to me from the Hawaii statutes quoted.

Even if the person who's stuff you "found" asks for it back?

That's also how it appears to me.

If I leave my coat on a chair, and go to the restroom in a restaurant, when I come back, can you have "found" my jacket and keep it?

I don't see that you have either lost or misplaced the coat in that case. The victim in this particular case has admitted to having lost the camera.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:19 PM on February 20, 2006


I think all the legal talk may be missing a point. Was she in a U.S. National Park or a Hawaiian State Park when the camera was mislayed and stolen? Federal statutes may apply, and this may be a case of data theft by a foreign national that the FBI or DHS can investigate. Between the Patriot act and DMCA their kid may be the first 9 year old in Gitmo.
Seriously, I don't understand what possible motive the parents could have had for leaving contact information with the park rangers. The only guess I have is that one parent wanted to keep the camera, and the honest one left contact information with the ranger.
posted by Megafly at 4:25 PM on February 20, 2006


I am awful glad that last week, when I walked out of the corner grocery with my (delicious!) pastrami sandwich and not my laptop computer, I remembered about it in time to recover it before some of you less-moral people noticed it sitting on the frozen fish deepfreezer.

I suppose I bet start locking my car when it's parked in my driveway, too, or you'll justify your theft as "he was asking for it!"
posted by five fresh fish at 4:35 PM on February 20, 2006


FFF, I don't think even one person here is defending or justifying the actions of the family who have the camera, as "he was asking for it" or otherwise.
posted by solid-one-love at 5:46 PM on February 20, 2006


... S-O-L's just saying that if the kid's under 12, the parents don't have to give your stuff back.
posted by klangklangston at 5:48 PM on February 20, 2006


Oy gevalt. The story keeps getting more screwed-up..
posted by solid-one-love at 5:56 PM on February 20, 2006


Holy shit. Did Doctorow show these to Judith before posting them?
posted by Gator at 6:03 PM on February 20, 2006


As an American, I'd like to say "Thanks, Canada." Sometimes we worry here in America that you're too normal and healthy up there. We start getting notions in our heads about moving (if only the weather weren't so inhospitable) and use you as an example of a polite, upstanding and generally intelligent country that uses prudence and tact in all dealings.

It's nice to see that you have your share of morons too. Besides the folks who dress Don Cherry on Hockeynight. It keeps us from just wanting to move to Canada and focuses us on just making the States better.
posted by klangklangston at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2006


Oh man, the guy has changed his name to "cory." This tale is rapidly becoming the Awesomest Awesome That Ever Awesomed.
posted by Gator at 6:29 PM on February 20, 2006


It's been a long winter, KK. Too long.

remember the batshitinsane woman mayor in smalltown alberta who went into hiding in, what, montana or something, telling her husband she was kidnapped? bizarro story. betcha it was a winter case, too!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 PM on February 20, 2006


The Awesome factor is way up there, Gator, I agree.
posted by raedyn at 8:08 AM on February 21, 2006


Canada has no Juvie? Damn. I should have spent my teenage years there.
posted by onegreeneye at 8:56 AM on February 22, 2006


We have juvenile detention, yes. Just not for children under 12.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:03 AM on February 22, 2006


Some Farker found a picture of the 'lawer' who threatened Cory. He looks exactly as I pictured him.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:06 PM on February 22, 2006


He was great in Little Nicky.
posted by Gator at 6:19 AM on February 23, 2006


Good news, the lost camera has been returned, thanks to some laws prohibiting removal of items from National Parks.
posted by caddis at 8:55 AM on March 12, 2006


I only just discovered the update today, and I was going to post it but I see that's already been covered.

I love a happy ending. Still, this interested me:

I have not talked to the family, but they have contacted at least one journalist and one blogger who wrote about the camera, so I believe they are aware of the controversy, and of course have their own version of the story.

Hmmm, any way of tracking down this journalist or this blogger and seeing what the family's version of the story is?
posted by Gator at 5:16 AM on March 15, 2006


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