Trouble in Whoville II: Woman Captured on Television Stealing Christmas Wreaths From Farm

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.10.27 PMThe_Grinch_(That_Stole_Christmas)Yesterday, we discussed the story of two men who celebrated the holiday by ruining it for everyone else. Brandon Ancell, 19, and Brandon Chait, 18, followed a UPS truck and stole gifts arriving at homes. Now, a Massachusetts woman has joined this ignoble list after she was captured on security cameras stealing several hundred dollars of holiday wreaths from the Sunshine Farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts. She does not appear to be too hard up for cash since she pulled up in a Range Rover. Well, at least it was not a small dog with antlers tied to its head.


What is interesting is that, once the video went viral, the police were quickly told who the woman was. However, they have decided to neither identify her nor arrest her. Instead, she was given a summons. In truth, I saw this story a couple days ago and held it because I was simply curious about the back story and the identity of such a person.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 7.06.17 AMThe business later posted this note: “Mystery solved. Thanks to all of our loyal fans and first viral video. 20,000 hits!” the business wrote. Sherborn police said they have identified a suspect in the case. Police said the person will not be arrested, but will be summoned at Natick District Court.”

It is a curious decision since the value of the wreaths would be sufficient for a felony arrest in Massachusetts. The key valuation under the larceny statute is $250 which seems to be satisfied here:

Section 30. (1) Whoever steals, or with intent to defraud obtains by a false pretence, or whoever unlawfully, and with intent to steal or embezzle, converts, or secretes with intent to convert, the property of another as defined in this section, whether such property is or is not in his possession at the time of such conversion or secreting, shall be guilty of larceny, and shall, if the property stolen is a firearm, as defined in section one hundred and twenty-one of chapter one hundred and forty, or, if the value of the property stolen exceeds two hundred and fifty dollars, be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years, or by a fine of not more than twenty-five thousand dollars and imprisonment in jail for not more than two years; or, if the value of the property stolen, other than a firearm as so defined, does not exceed two hundred and fifty dollars, shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars; or, if the property was stolen from the conveyance of a common carrier or of a person carrying on an express business, shall be punished for the first offence by imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than two and one half years, or by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than six hundred dollars, or both, and for a subsequent offence, by imprisonment for not less than eighteen months nor more than two and one half years, or by a fine of not less than one hundred and fifty nor more than six hundred dollars, or both.

The police could get creative in piling up charges, though I do not consider it necessary. If the curtilage is considered part of the structure, the damage could also be charged as breaking and entering:

Section 16. Whoever, in the night time, breaks and enters a building, ship, vessel or vehicle, with intent to commit a felony, or who attempts to or does break, burn, blow up or otherwise injures or destroys a safe, vault or other depository of money, bonds or other valuables in any building, vehicle or place, with intent to commit a larceny or felony, whether he succeeds or fails in the perpetration of such larceny or felony, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years or in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one-half years.

There is also burglary which again depends on the interpretation of key words like “enters” and “breaks”:

Section 15. Whoever breaks and enters a dwelling house in the night time, with the intent mentioned in the preceding section, or, having entered with such intent, breaks such dwelling house in the night time, the offender not being armed, nor arming himself in such house, with a dangerous weapon, nor making an assault upon a person lawfully therein, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years and, if he shall have been previously convicted of any crime named in this or the preceding section, for not less than five years.

In the end, I do not believe a serious punishment is needed given the social stigma of a charge and the lack of damage to the structure.

Source: CBS

50 thoughts on “Trouble in Whoville II: Woman Captured on Television Stealing Christmas Wreaths From Farm”

  1. BFM:

    How else can you measure high crime rates than arrest rates? I think it’s literally impossible. I think it’s good to include a periodic review between arrest rates and convictions, as well as ensuring sentencing guidelines and enhancements are colorblind. Although, a problem we have had in one of the areas I used to live was that the DA liked a high conviction rate, so he didn’t file charges in cases unless the perp was holding a bag of money screaming, “I did it!”

    And, yes, the wide open spaces and views are some of the reasons I love living in a rural area. My happy hens are so peaceful, have tons of room, and I only feed them organic feed and scraps. Plus they get free time out in the backyard frequently, with my cattle dog keeping the predators at bay with the stink eye. I know my eggs were produced in a stress free environment instead of a filthy, crammed factory farm were they chop the tip of the hens’ beaks off. My horses have plenty of room to gallop around in their corrals, instead of being stuck in a boring stall. You should see the video I took yesterday of one of “my” coyotes.

  2. Well, a pun comes to mind. . .and hence an Irish Poem!

    The Grapes of Wreath???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Not reporting her name may cause quarrels!
    But no one disputes her bad morals!
    Crimes of Christmas, no less!
    But the worst part, I guess. . .
    She can longer can rest on her “laurels”!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. Now we have to read “How The Grinch Stole Christmas Topics” with all this partisanship.

  4. @Karen: “Are you saying that the actual murder rate is equal, or even skewed towards other ethnic groups, and that all the black arrests have been framed?”

    I have not said anything like that at all.

    Some, here, have made the claim that high crime rates by blacks justify their high arrest rates, and presumably high conviction rates.

    I have just asked the question where is the data that documents the supposed high crime rates.

    As you have read, the response to me is to claim that high arrest rates are justified by official statistics documenting high arrest rates. That kind of logic would be a knee slapper worthy of a bit in Dumb and Dumber III – if the subject were not so serious.

    As for whether blacks are framed, I have made no claim and have no idea. The first question that I see concerns the data that describes crime rates, arrest rates, and conviction rates. You have also mentioned the possibility of disparities in sentencing.

    The next question, as I see it, are there significant differences in those rates?

    And finally, if there are differences, what factors might account for the differences? Thinking up factors that might account for any differences is the easy part. The hard part is building sound arguments to support the factor or finding a way to eliminate the factor from consideration.

    BTW, a few factors that might contribute to differences in arrest rates include, but are not limited to, unconscious racism, institutional racism, socioeconomic status, education, culture, age, employment, and the really, really popular offender rates – the list is just about endless. I am sure I have left out many good guesses and you are free to add your own favorites.

    Right now, I don’t have a theory, only questions.

    And I will add the observation that some seem to become very sensitive when I ask them explain their claims or provide data to support their claims. My personal rule of thumb is that if I cannot make a reasonable argument with some data for my belief then perhaps I should consider changing that belief – or at least spend some time looking for some data.

    BTW, you must have a wonderful view if you can see bob cats and have the room to keep organic hens. How do you ever get any work done?

  5. BFM:

    Are you looking for this?

    http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/bvvc.pdf

    Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2007. It showed crime dropping from the nineties and leveling out.

    From the study:

    “Black males were more vulnerable to violent victimization than black females.
    • Younger blacks were generally more likely than older blacks to be victims of violence.
    • Blacks who had never married were more likely than all other blacks to be victims of violence.
    • Blacks in households with lower annual incomes were at a greater risk of violence than those in households with higher annual incomes.
    • Blacks living in urban areas were more likely than those in suburban or rural areas to be victims of violence.”

    And

    “Blacks accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in 2005, according to the FBI’s UCR.”

    And

    “About 93% of black homicide vic- tims and 85% of white victims in single victim and single offender homicides were murdered by someone of their race.”

    So, in summary, although African Americans make up 13.2% of the population of the US (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html), they account for about half of the murder victims, and 93% of those people were murdered by other African Americans.

    I fail to see how that is the fault of racist cops.

    We need to FIX this, because there are innocent kids trapped in this hellish cycle. We need to identify the cause of this crime and actually break the cycle.

    Personally, if I was a mom living in gangland, I would WANT gang profiling, even if it meant I had to walk through a metal detector going to and from work, just to keep my kids safe from gangs.

    1. Thank you for the references. I scanned the first document. It is filled with interesting facts and tables. But so far as I could see the data is about victims with little about the characteristics of offenders.

      The census quick facts looks really interesting. But that will take me a little more time.

      Thanks for your response and the references.

  6. Inga:

    ““Data before conclusion”, yes indeed, except when it comes to ‘Jackie’, the possible rape victim.”

    Data – all of her details in her rape story have been proven false. The men she identified by those erroneous details were innocent, and that frat house didn’t even have a party that night, and no one worked as a lifeguard at the pool.

    Conclusion – Her claims were false. If she makes a second, new claim, containing correct information, then that claim will be judged on its own merits.

    That is an example of data and then conclusion.

    Here is another example – A victim stated that Fred raped her on 12/1/2000 at Property X. All proven false. Correction, Bob raped her on 1/12/2001 at Property Y. Proven true. The first claim was false, and harmed Fred, who was wrongfully accused and deserves our compassion. The second claim was true and she should press charges against Bob.

  7. “The onus is on you to prove an alternate theory.”

    So now you are claiming that no one can ask questions about your theory unless they present a theory of their own? Just in case you have not noticed many theories have been demonstrated to be inadequate or completely false long before there was better theory available.

    I am only asking you to present your data that explains or justifies your theory that higher crime rates justify or explain higher arrest rates for blacks.

    Where, exactly, is the data for higher crime rates?

  8. And on another note, I just saw the most beautiful bobcat out my window! Glad my organic hens are inside their fortress.

  9. BFM:

    “Do you have any data on crime rates that are not based on arrest rates?”

    Is that even possible?

    Are you saying that the actual murder rate is equal, or even skewed towards other ethnic groups, and that all the black arrests have been framed?

    Denying that there is a problem does the community a disservice. By claiming that all those guys in jail were framed, or the victim of racist cops, you’re ignoring actual crime in the community. And that prevents us from fighting it. That also contributes to the ethos in which young black men fight with cops.

    All kids deserve to grow up in a safe neighborhood, free from gangs.

    And gangs cause the most violent crime.

    Now here are some critical facts:

    1) Single mothers without support from the fathers are more likely to have kids who drop out of school, join gangs, engage in crime, and/or go to jail
    2) Poverty is associated with higher crime rates and drug abuse
    3) Unemployment is associated with higher crime rates and drug abuse

    If the African American community is hit with a higher rate of ALL THREE of the above statistical risk factors, then they are obviously going to suffer a synergistically higher negative effect.

    Do we keep denying this is happening, blame the cops making the arrests, or actually try to help them?

  10. BFM:

    “Which, of course, explains why in those Ferguson police stops whites are half again more likely to be found carrying some kind of contraband – from the news story: “Contraband hit rate: Whites: 34.04 percent; Blacks: 21.71 percent…Arrest rate: Whites: 5.25 percent; Blacks: 10.43 percent ””

    Mike, I have some experience with statistics. Here you have whites being more likely to have contraband, but blacks being more likely to get arrested. But people are not only arrested for having contraband, but also for theft, murder, domestic abuse, etc. Were the whites more likely to have contraband because they were profiling drug dealers? Where they pulling black over for reasons that had nothing to do with contraband? Are drugs just a really prevalent problem in the city for all races?

    Here is another example of an unequal arrest rate. Say you’re a cop who works in gangland, and the gangs in your area are black. The gangs in your coworker’s beat are Latino. You will arrest more blacks than he, and he will arrest more Latinos than you. Is that racist?

    You have to be careful about extrapolating meaning from statistics, or about teasing out only one or two stats.

    Either blacks commit more crimes per 100,000 or they are getting framed. Are sentencing guidelines colorblind? If certain ethnic groups are engaging in more crime than others, it would be more helpful to pull out those root causes than in denying they exist. For instance, the high rate of single mothers out there struggling to raise their families make their kids more likely to engage in crime. What can we do to reduce the crime rate?

    I absolutely support periodic audits to ensure that sentencing guidelines are colorblind. Two different guys with similar previous arrest records, or lack thereof, and similar crimes, should get similar sentences. I would not compare the sentencing of a black gang member with a first time teenage offender, nor would I compare that of a white supremacist with a rap sheet a mile long with a first time black offender. Compare apples to apples.

  11. What is with these Grinch criminals stealing Christmas presents and decorations? How can they do such a thing, especially when their victims include children?

  12. No, I am arguing that it is reasonable for blacks to be arrested more often because official records show blacks commit crimes more often.

    The onus is on you to prove an alternate theory.

  13. The burden of proof for such a crackpot theory is on you.

    I agree with Wilson: ‘ “Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes.”

    You have something more explanatory, I’m all ears.

    1. “The burden of proof for such a crackpot theory is on you….I agree with Wilson: ‘ “Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes.””

      Excuse me, but I have not presented a theory. I am the who raised questions about arrest rates.

      You are the one who presented a theory that the high crime rates justify high arrest rates. I only asked for data that would support your theory.

      You are the one who is claiming that arrest rates for blacks are justified by official statistics on arrest rates.

      Perhaps we should change that QED to CR for circular reasoning.

      Once again, do you have any data that would justify or explain the high arrest rates for blacks that you claim is reasonable?

  14. bfm – way back in the day, before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I took Criminal Investigation and even then there were crime statistics. Over the years those have gotten more sophisticated. Phoenix ran a pilot program where they did statistics by district and crime and did break it down both by race of the offender and race of the victim. And some crimes were more race driven, with this distance in time I cannot remember which. Some crimes were more gender driven. Some crimes were more age driven. Math is fun. 🙂

  15. The late William Stuntz, Harvard law professor, from his 2011 book, “The Collapse of American Criminal Justice.”

    “High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination… The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segrega­tion but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans — and of African American control of city governments.”

    “The lenient turn of the mid-twentieth century was, in part, the product of judges, prosecutors and politicians who saw criminal punishment as too harsh a remedy for ghetto violence.”

    “The Supreme Court’s expansion of criminal defendants’ legal rights in the 1960s and after flowed from the Justices’ percep­tion that poor and black defendants were being victimized by a system run by white government officials. Even the rise of harsh drug laws was in large measure the product of reformers’ efforts to limit the awful costs illegal drug markets impose on poor city neighborhoods. Each of these changes flowed, in large measure, from the decisions of men who saw themselves as reformers. But their reforms showed an uncanny ability to take bad situations and make them worse.”

  16. “Even allowing for the existence of discrimination in the criminal justice system, the higher rates of crime among black Americans cannot be denied,” wrote James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein in their classic 1985 study, “Crime and Human Nature.” “Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes.”

    1. “Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes.”

      Once again you seem to be arguing that it is reasonable for blacks to be arrested more often because official records show blacks are arrested more often.

      Well, there is a sort of symmetry to that.

      But the question I have been asking is what factors account for the fact that blacks are arrested and convicted more often?

      Do you have any data on that? Do you have any data on basic crime rates? What would count as good data for basic crime rates. Do you have any official statistics for crime rates that we could compare with arrest rates and conviction rates?

  17. “Arrest rates are confounded by other issues that have nothing to do with the fundamental crime rate

    Is that your theory?
    Prove it.
    Prove that arrests are unrelated to crime.

  18. “In the year 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58% for homicide and 67% for robbery.”

    I think you just said that blacks have higher crime rates that explain their higher arrest rates – and we know they have higher crime rates because they have higher arrest rates – right?

    Do you have any data on crime rates that are not based on arrest rates?

    That is the crucial issue isn’t it? Arrest rates are confounded by other issues that have nothing to do with the fundamental crime rate – right?

    But is good to see you trying for some data.

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