No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Police Arrest Teenager For Finding Lost Cellphone and Bringing It to Police Station

thumb_policeman_cartoonThere is another curious case out of England. Paul Leicester, 18, was acting as a good citizen when he found a cellphone on the street and picked it up to return it to its owner. He rang the last number on the cellphone and spoke to the friend of the owner — telling him that he would leave the cellphone at the local police station. The police, however promptly arrested him for “theft by finding,” took DNA samples, and held him for hours.

Leiscester is a student with top grades at Southport College and had to spend part of his 18th birthday in jail for his kind act.

While after public outcry, the police dropped the charges, they have yet to apologize to the teen. Nor has any officer been fired — which should be the obvious response to such an abuse of authority.

For the full story, click here.

9 thoughts on “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Police Arrest Teenager For Finding Lost Cellphone and Bringing It to Police Station”

  1. Ah yes, that NWA song. I have a very fond memory of it being *cranked* from a sixth floor dorm room as the MIT campus police were shutting down a party. Righteous.

  2. Nice to know that in “Merry Olde England” they compare with us in over policing. This story is ludicrous, so I suspect that when the young man came to the Station to return the phone and they questioned him his answers may have been cheeky out of pique, so they promptly showed him who was boss. While many LEO’s are drawn to the work to actually be of service, there are also many respect craving thugs who like the power rush.

  3. I think “theft by finding” is when you passively find something (vs. actively stealing it) but fail to make a reasonable attempt to find the rightful owner. That’s clearly not the case here.

    The overall situation reminds me of the way it’s become impossible to safely warn companies that their websites have security holes, even staggeringly obvious ones with a clear potential for abuse. All it takes is one or two grandstanding prosecutors who want to appear tough on cybercrime while being unable to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. I’ve heard of one case where somebody went to the effort of getting legal counsel to pass on the information and they still tried to go after him.

    To be clear, we aren’t talking about intrusive examinations here, just recognizing the significance of problems with last names like O’hara.

    The ultimate effect, of course, is that we’re all less safe. The bad guys will still learn of the holes, but the victims will remain ignorant.

    It’s the same thing in this British case. How many people won’t make an attempt to return misplaced items if it means they risk detention or even arrest?

  4. Quote from the full story link:

    “Chief Superintendent Ian Pilling said: “We are reviewing the circumstances of the arrest.”

    People, not to worry, the po-lice are conducting an internal investigation, so rest assured that justice and fairness will prevail because all LEOs take a solemn pledge to uphold the laws of the land and to adhere to strict codes of ethics and conduct.

    I think that DNA must only be collected from criminals committing violent criminal acts and not from perpetrators of misdemeanor acts because of the real potential for abuse of DNA ‘evidence’ in the hands of bumbling keystone cops.

  5. What is wrong with some of these so-called law enforcement people? Is it a requirement that you have to completely shut off all logic and reason, and determine that everyone you come in contact with is a criminal, in order to take the job?

  6. Buddah.

    As I understand it, the police get to keep his DNA on the database. Perhaps that is the motivation.

  7. Theft by finding? That’s a charge? That doesn’t even add up to a crime if you break down the elements of the offense. WTF is that other than an oxymoron? If you find something, by definition, you cannot have stolen it. You lack the required intent to unlawfully deprive another of their property to make it theft. Should you decide to keep the phone it would be conversion, not theft. The fact these asshats chose to abuse their power to get DNA and hold this guy who was TRYING TO RETURN THE PHONE TO IT’S RIGHTFUL OWNER just says

    “Great Britain – We’re too stupid to define actual crimes. Come visit us and get arrested for nonsensical bullshit and possibly be subjected to Sharia.”

    What’s next, INGSOC? Theft by observation? Murder by thought? Treason by accident?

    This is easily the most ridiculous thing I’ve read all week. And it’s been an absurd week.

Comments are closed.