Would you prosecute?

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by ~Shiori~, May 3, 2011.

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  1. ~Shiori~

    ~Shiori~ Account Closed

    Last week I went to an estate auction and won 2 antique cast iron small tables. I only paid $75 for the pair of side tables but my neighbor who sells antiques told me that he would have them in his store for $300 a piece easy. They were in good shape and I was so excited to finally have found these for my sunroom. I had measured and placed an order for the marble top I wanted made to fit the day after I got my tables and paid for them.

    The two tables did have some rust on them so I left them by my side porch next to my compost can (the can I fill with leaves and food to take to the compost pit, not the same as my trash cans). My trash cans sit out by my garage about 140 feet from the house in the back part of the property.

    At about 5am I heard noise outside on my side porch. I got up and got dressed and by the time I got downstairs to the porch all I had seen was a white truck pull away. I did notice right away that my two tables were gone.

    I called the police to report it. The police officer said that he knew exactly who took my tables and he would try to catch up to the person. He came back to my house a little after lunch with the guy and his truck. The guy explained that he had seen the tables by what he thought was a trash can and thought they were trash so he figured free pickings. He also said that he had already taken them to the scrap yard and they are gone. He was very apologetic but at the time I was sort of on pain meds so I didnt know how to respond.

    The police officer did explain to the guy (infront of me) that the area was clearly private property and even if I had the metal out for trash he legally can not take it without permission. Yet it is up to me if I wish to prosecute.

    Which here is my problem, they guy is sick and his mind is not all there. The police officer explained to me that usually they look the other way if he picks from the trash for he does scrap the metal and use the money to buy his medication and pay bills. His hands shake and he looks pale. You can tell he is not quite as intelligent as he should be (not exactly how to phrase that nicely).

    So I feel bad for him, but at the same time, the chance of me finding these tables again is slim and probably not even close for the great deal I managed. Yet I will also have two marble slabs made to fit these tables and no table.

    If I press charges that takes money away he really doesnt have, but he needs to learn a lesson somehow right? I shouldn't have to just eat this loss right? Would prosecuting even make me feel better? Replacing the money won't get me the tables so prosecuting doesn't do much either for me. Ugh back and forth on thinking...

    I am confused on what to do.... would you prosecute?
  2. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    Was he malicious?

    Will you gain anything?

    Answer to both: no.

    Don't prosecute.

    Edit: I don't think it was malicious because I think it was an easy mistake to make. I suspect he was a little single minded after seeing them and didn't notice your other trash bins - and almost always trash bins and compost bins are next to each other. Further, I can't figure out why you'd put your tables out. It doesn't make sense to me to put things outside that can receive environmental damage... They'll rust faster outside than in. I would believe you didn't want them based on that. Finally, they were rusty and old. They probably look like trash to most people.

    And if you ring someone's doorbell and ask them if you can take their trash, they will be annoyed that you bothered them over trash.

    He probably thought he was doing everyone a favour by turning your garbage into valuable metal.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2011
  3. tweetypie

    tweetypie Antiquities Friend

    ahh a tricky one. I can tell from your writing that you sound like a very caring considerate person to not have jumped straight in and pressed charges. I think i can only say what i would do if it was me. I would try to figure out (if possible) whether this guy did it on purpose. If you can be sure beyond reasonable doubt that he was aware he was stealing these then i would probably prosecute because it just isnt right. I do understand that this man has bills to pay but so do you. you will be out of pocket twice because you will now have paid for tables you dont have and marble top you cant use ! I think it is a bit bad that the police look the other way this man could have taken things from people worse off than him also!
    However if there is any chance that he was really unaware and a bit desperate then i wouldnt press charges...it wouldnt help you or him and you would possibly feel very bad about it afterwards. Maybe you could do a bit of both! Maybe you could come to an arrangement with this man to do some outdoor jobs to make up for the missing tables that way he has a consequence to his actions that wont weigh on your shoulders. Obviously you would want to make sure it was done safely if you are a single person you wouldnt want a random stranger wandering around in your yard while your at home alone. Id be very interested if you could update us on what you decide or what happens next ?
    good luck!!
    much love sarah xx
  4. ~Shiori~

    ~Shiori~ Account Closed

    I can't find an edit button to update on the first post so I will do so here:

    He came back yesterday evening with another family member. He went back to the scrap yard and found my two tables and returned them. He was very apologetic and very nice about it. His nephew was with him and explained what his uncle could not. And things are ok now. I will not be prosecuting and he seems to understand he can not walk into someone's yard and pull what he feels is trash.

    I did show him a green large "recycling" (what we labeled it as) can from my garage that I will put out during the summer with pop cans that he can take. So from this point on he will know that all metal will be in that can just for him, if he sees it out.

    No I didnt think it was malicious either. I am not sure it was such an easy mistake though. The guy walked through my yard to get to the side porch. As it turns out the neighbor in the house behind me (other side of the alley way) leaves a trash can of aluminum cans out for this guy. A new neighbor at the end of the alley has the alley way blocked with a dumpster in order to clean out the house he has bought. The guy could not get his truck through the alley way to get to the can so he walked through my yard to get to it. If he didn't walk through my yard he would have never seen the tables.

    The can the tables were next to was under a covered porch. The can is also only about 2 feet tall. Its not a large trash can. I usually keep only a few leaves from my gardening in the can or clean out my fridge with it then dump it in the compost pit and rinse it out. So even just because a small can is next something doesn't mean it is trash.

    The guy is intellectually challenged. I can clearly see that he is very defined in thinking that if something is next to a trash can than it must be trash. What type of can or even the size is hard for him to comprehend. I feel sad for him. Someone should be with him while he drives around and collects things.

    As for being outside, its cast iron. These were made originally as outside tables. The iron is as thick as many old fences and gates. Mine does have some rust on the legs but its not a huge rusty table. To me and others no it doesnt look like trash. It doesnt have holes from the rust, just a slight rust on the bottom of the legs. Something I didnt want marking my tile floor until I had refinished it.

    I am glad that it worked out but before he showed up yesterday evening I was thinking that I would not press charges. It would not have benefitted him. Getting his medications is more important than my tables. I just hope that his family now realizes he needs some help or supervision if he is going to be going around and collecting stuff. His nephew said that he had two accidents driving this past winter. Maybe he should have some help there too.
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