Indiana Couple Charged With Felony For Sneaking Into Zombie Movie

harbinmugsPolice and prosecutors in Portage, Indiana appear to have a rather draconian version of a criminal code where every minor offense begins with a felony and goes up from there. We previously saw how a Walmart cleaning lady was charged with a felony for eating Oreo cookies at a story. Now, the Portage police and prosecutors are seeking a felony conviction against this couple for sneaking into a zombie movie and not paying the $6.75 ticket price.


Lendsey Harbin, 49, and Delilha Harbin, 40, had just watched the movie “Snitch” when they left theater #13 and entered theater #15 to watch “Warm Bodies.” The move was caught by two off-duty Portage police officers who said that Harbin stood out in his “very colorful clothing, white vest, white dress pants, and a bright red shirt.” The officers found them in the theater and waited for previews to end and for the movie to start. They then arrested the couple.

The police said that the couple confessed to having snuck into movies before — showing that their legal judgment is just about as bad as their cinematic judgment. They reportedly said that they were at a funeral all day and were not “thinking correctly.” Nothing like a zombie movie after a funeral.

Once again, I fail to understand how a $13 theft becomes a felony as more than a couple bags of Oreos becomes a felony in Portage, Indiana. I shudder to think what folks get for car theft in the city.

Source: Huff Post

33 thoughts on “Indiana Couple Charged With Felony For Sneaking Into Zombie Movie

  1. Almost the entire price of a movie ticket gets sent to the distributor for the first few weeks of a movies run. The theater really exists on concession sales. Smart operators don’t care that you sneak into a movie as long as you by some pop corn. I’m surprised by this charge & wonder if something else is going on

  2. ‘The Police State’ – coming to a theater near you…….

    Don’t miss this arresting thriller that highlights the perverseness of the American legal system. See how the too big to jail financial criminals are rewarded with gifts and gratitude, while non-violent misdemeanors of the poorest of the citizenry are treated as dangers to society. Starring Lloyd Blankfien and Angelo Mozilo as the lifelong financial criminals who buy their way into the hearts and minds of the political class to curry favor. Also starring a cast of thousands who are arrested indiscriminately for minor offenses and put behind bars for long terms because of their lack of political connections. .

  3. I agree with Mel. Maybe they want an all white crowd. Boycott is in order. Maybe the poop in the bag trick at the theatre entrance. You guys know about the poop in the bag trick.

  4. Why not burnish your police employment file with all the felony arrests you can? Better chance of promotion, more pay, increased prestige, And your Department is tough on crime. You are the Law. They are just the little people.

  5. Maybe this police department has an arrangement with the local for profit prison? Overcharging seems to be the rule instead of the exception.

  6. The issue isn’t the money. The issue is the criminalization of working people. In many places, people with criminal records have their right to vote stolen from them.

    That’s the goal, taking away the right to vote. Inflating charges for petty crimes, minor drug possession and “third strike” nonsense is as much a part of election fraud as is manipulating the voting lists.

  7. “The move was caught by two off-duty Portage police officers who said that Harbin stood out in his “very colorful clothing”

    So “two off-duty” police officers were just hanging out in a multiplex, chewing the fat and watching the crowd, when they saw this colorfully dressed Black couple, who wet into a second theater, watch the trailers and the arrested them, for the “Felony” of theft of services. Something about this smells badly.

    Was it because the couple was black?
    Was it because the couple was being followed as suspects in another case?
    Was it because these police officers were “moonlighting” at the theater?
    Was it because these police officers were eager to burnish their records?

    All those questions occurred to me when I read the original story, so I read further: Following up from the original sources:

    “Two off-duty cops working security at the Portage 16 IMAX were standing outside theater #13 as “Snitch” was letting out. One officer reported alerting to Lendsey Harbin, 49, due to his “very colorful clothing, white vest, white dress pants, and a bright red shirt.” The second cop advised that he thought the Harbins had previously “attempted to sneak into movies without paying for the tickets.”

    “After the cops could not locate the Harbins in the hallway, they canvassed surrounding theaters and found the couple waiting for “Warm Bodies” to begin. After previews had ended and the movie started, the officers approached the Harbins and requested they exit the theater.”

    “When asked for their ticket stubs, the Harbins came up empty. “I know we done wrong,” said Delilha Harbin, 40. The pair reportedly “advised they had snuck into movies at this movie complex 3 to 4 other times.” The Harbins, who live in nearby Gary, Indiana, also claimed they “were at a funeral all day and just were not thinking correctly.”

    “The duo was “taken into custody without incident” and transported to the Porter County jail, where they were booked on the felony count and later released on their own recognizance.”

    And further,

    “In an email to The Huffington Post, Portage Police Sgt. Keith Hughes said theft of services is the “normal” charge for someone caught sneaking into a movie.

    “I seriously doubt that they will serve any time, but the felony charge is punishable by 1 year or more in jail,” Hughes said in the email.

    Hughes said he suspects the couple’s attorney and prosecutors will work out a plea deal that will not include prison time.”

    So then in the words of LBJ, let us reason together.

    1. The ability to make the “theft of services” of $13.50, a felony with the possibility of one years imprisonment seems to me to be “cruel and unusual puishment” that would befit an oppressive State.

    2. Give what we know of US law enforcement it is likely that the charge here was “living while black”. If it was an elderly white male, myself for instance, the worst thing to happen would have been escorting me out of the theater. Also I usually throw my ticket stubs away because in all the multiplexes I go to you only need them to enter the theater itself, not the individual showing areas.

    3. Given the police Sgt.’s statement even though they will “plea bargain” the case, the couple would need a lawyer. Perhaps the Lawyer’s fee would be $800 to $1,000, which for the average person would be a hardship. If we lived with a better legal system, shouldn’t the DA talk to the couple and work out the deal, ot months later, but relatively quickly.

    4. If Indiana were a “3 strikes you’re out State” and the man/woman had two prior “felony” convictions such as this, could this result in life imprisonment?

    5. I’m uncomfortable with Police Officers “moonlighting” in instances such as this. Law Enforcement Powers theoretically should not be able to be bought by private companies. “Moonlighting” allows this practice and thus the local cineplex can enforce its rules with police powers. Suppose a patron argues too loudly (without threatening) a theater employee because there was not enough butter put on their popcorn? I can see an arrest coming because of the raised, irate voice. This would be inappropriate to my mind. Pay the police a good wage so they won’t have to “moonlight” and forbid it. Police Power, which includes the ability to arrest, should not be open to the highest bidder.

    6. Fially it occurs to me that since they were arrested prior to the start of the second movie the charge should really be “attempted theft of services”
    since the second movie hadn’t begun. The police should have waited at least five minutes into the movie. :)

    Just another example of the erosion of our Justice System into that of a totalitarian country.

  8. If good Americans only knew…

    Just another example of the erosion of our Justice System into that of a totalitarian country. -Mike Spindell

  9. Who hires these idiot prosecutors and police? I just hope they don’t get a jury of idiots who would convict, based on the say so of the government, a ham sandwich. This shouldnt’ even get beyond grand jury state, that is if the judge isn’t an idiot also.

  10. Outrageous. Draconian punishment for minor, nonviolent transgression by poor folks, and slaps on the wrist for white collar crime. The fools running things in that city should be replaced, but I imagine the property owners running the show like things just fine because it’s not their friends and family that face these sorts of punishments.

  11. One more thought. Why is it that police officers who do such outrageous things never have their identity disclosed? these off duty cops should have their names linked to this story. Their identity is not protected info. But, news outlets never publish this info.

  12. Them being charged with a felony have nothing to do with their color. Any charge of theft is automatically a D Felony in the STATE of Indiana. The value of the loss has nothing to do with the level of the offense. Theft is blanketed.

  13. This is not the fault of the police. The legislature in Indiana chose to make thefts of this kind a felony charge. What are the police to do? They cannot make a misdemeanor out of a felony any more than they can make a felony out of a misdemeanor. They can only charge for what the probable cause fits the offense.

    Of course it would be good for the legislature to make petty theft misdemeanor. I am all for that. Put all due pressure on the legislature to fix this draconian charge.

  14. Here is the Indiana statute:

    IC 35-43-4-2

    ——————————————————————————–
    Theft; receiving stolen property
    Sec. 2. (a) A person who knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over property of another person, with intent to deprive the other person of any part of its value or use, commits theft, a Class D felony. However, the offense is a Class C felony if:
    (1) the fair market value of the property is at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000); or
    (2) the property that is the subject of the theft is a valuable metal (as defined in IC 25-37.5-1-1) and:
    (A) relates to transportation safety;
    (B) relates to public safety; or
    (C) is taken from a:
    (i) hospital or other health care facility;
    (ii) telecommunications provider;
    (iii) public utility (as defined in IC 32-24-1-5.9(a)); or
    (iv) key facility;
    and the absence of the property creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to a person.

  15. My, my, my…if I can’t afford to go to the movies I don’t go…how stupid of me. I should just sneak in…I’m sure you guys would fight for me…right?

    While I think the punishment is ridiculous it is the law. Perhaps someone should change the law. I think a more appropriate punishment would be scrubbing the bathrooms for a month. No one likes to do that job.

  16. In our state, theft up through $499 is a misdemeanor. $500 to $1,000 is the lowest class of felony. We have felony charges in steps, with Class A being the worst, such as premeditated murder.

  17. Otteray

    Here’s one you’ll get a kick out of. Washington has some strange laws when it comes to theft. In general theft depends on value. Gross misdemeanor for $750 $5000. Except as follows which have their own particular laws:

    Access Device (credit card / pin )
    Metal Wire from a Public Utility
    Public Record
    Firearm
    Motor Vehicle
    Search and Rescue dog that is on duty (what brought this on I’ll never know)
    Livestock
    Pet Animal
    Loaned or leased property
    Shopping Cart
    Beverage Crates (10 or more)
    Telecommunication services
    Mail
    Telegraph services
    Flora from public highway right of ways
    Rocks from lands under mining claim
    Books from public libraries
    Railroad Property
    Defrauding an inkeeper (unbelievably, a class B felony if > $75 )
    Human remains
    Prescription medications
    Ski lift services
    License Plates
    Identity documents
    Motor Vehicle Fuel
    Public Utilities
    Cable Television Services
    Unauthorized recording of Movies at theaters
    Native American Artifacts
    Native American Burial Items
    Anhydrous Ammonia

    and on, and on and on.

  18. Darren, I appreciate your point that the legislature is at fault for enacting such a draconian law. I don’t see that the police are automatons in this however. Cops have discretion. They didn’t have to arrest them. Those cops made a choice.

  19. “White guilt unchained 2”

    Nick,

    In your case ignorance and disingenuousness unchained.

    It is ignorant from you because it is a meme you repeat time and again when people bring racism into the discussion. Understand, ignorance as opposed to stupidity. Stupidity, which you don’t suffer from, is the inability to understand concepts and a lack of the kind of general information available to the average person. Ignorance, however, is the inability to process information that falls outside of previous beliefs, or in other words the lack of an open mind. This “white guilt” thing isn’t prejudice on your part since you avowedly are tight with people of color.

    What it is though is you letting your political philosophy, libertarian I presume, get in the way of evidence. From a libertarian point of view we can all equally succeed based on our own merits if we try hard enough. That some don’t clearly succeed is thus their responsibility, not the fault of society. Since your whole outlook on the world is imbued with this view, then of course being Black has nothing to do with this woman’s situation. That is ignorant and a putative refutation with no evidence behind it.

    Notice though that I also said you were being disingenuous. Inherent in your statement, as gleaned from all the comments I’ve seen from you here on politics, is your stereotyping of those you see as “Liberals”. I won’t even go into the incorrectness of your classification of may people here in that simplistic manner, because frankly your commentary has never been one that brings facts to bear, so the effort isn’t worth it. However, it doesn’t escape anyone that you consider this a “jab” at those you classify this way. The “jab”, however, is not a direct one, though in your case it seems heartfelt. It is a disingenuous one done with the belief that it doesn’t leave you open to return fire since you could always claim misunderstanding of your words.

    You present yourself here as a open and tolerant soul, but I think you essentially are a very angry man, without the honesty, or the skills to present your anger towards those you consider “liberals” cohesively and directly.

  20. Michael Val wrote:
    Cops have discretion. They didn’t have to arrest them. Those cops made a choice.
    ~+~

    You bring up a good point. And this is at the heart of having these petty thefts as felony crimes. A couple thoughts to consider.

    At what point does discretion become so prevalent, that many felony crimes are not prosecuted by the police? Could it be the case (I don’t know) but if an assault carries the same force as this minor theft (a class D Felony) would the police be frowned upon because they let so many assaults go unprosecuted?
    What would happen if the victim insisted upon a prosecution and the police did not act upon it? If it happened a lot it would lead to accusations of them not performing their duty
    It is these reasons and those you mention that I feel this type of crime should not be a felony and either be codified as a Misdemeanor or Gross Misdemeanor. The latter being more subject to legitimate discretion in prosecution. I personally have reservations on often declining to make charges on felony offenses as it leads to an erosion of the process. But then again making petty thefts felony offenses is an erosion of the significance of Felony to begin with.

  21. Darren,
    The Washington state legislature has WAY too much time on its hands.

    We have had a rash of a new kind of thief in this part of the country.

    A married couple crime duo broke into my rented storage unit and stole some of my stuff. They caught the couple not long after that. They were stealing items from storage units that could be resold quickly at flea markets. The detective told me they were taking truckloads of stuff out of state, meeting professional flea market vendors in out of the way places such as vacant parking lots and making a cash transaction. He said tracing the stuff was next to impossible because the thieves never knew the buyer’s name or where they were from.

    The district attorney sent me a form to be filled out and notarized. They wanted a list of everything I could determine was missing, and the cost of those items new at the present time. They do not handle it like the IRS and make you discount it to used thrift store price. One of the items stolen was my deceased grandson’s large scale electric train set we set up around the tree every Christmas. I had a choice of listing the price I paid for the item originally, or what it would cost if I paid full undiscounted retail for it today. Whichever was the higher of the two prices. Unfortunately, I could not put a price on the sentimental value of the train…..it would have looked like this year’s Defense Department’s appropriation.

    The prosecution wants that list of values in order to determine just which level of felony to charge them with. The assistant DA told me the total value of stolen items was running into serious money by the time everything was added up. My own list is $3,000 and still growing as go through looking for missing items.

    I gather that theft from storage units has become a popular pastime for petty thieves. They rent the cheapest unit, usually a 5’x5′ unit the size of a small closet for a single month, usually using a fake ID. That gives them the gate access code. They go into the storage facility in the middle of the night and begin cutting locks off doors and stealing what pickers call “smalls.” Stuff that can be easily moved at a flea market. The ones that took stuff from us selected only items that could not be traced. They passed over two portable sewing machines and some electronics, even though they had to literally step over those because they were in the door. Those items had serial numbers on them. They sprayed one of the CCTV cameras with black paint, but overlooked the other six cameras because it was dark and did not see them. They broke into dozens of units in two counties before they were caught.

    They are still in jail, since the judge set their bail really high. I think one reason was for their own safety. They stole so many family heirlooms of great sentimental value, some of these mountain folk may go looking for them, squirrel rifle or axe handle in hand.

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