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.
The 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.