Woman Faces Year In Prison For Trying To Return Lost Wallet On Her Own

The moral of this story, we suppose, is if the police ask you to give them the lost wallet you found, you should do it. …Or maybe it’s that if you see a lost wallet, you should run away.

A woman in Casper, WY saw such a wallet and, being a Good Samaritan type, she picked it up and started trying to contact the owner.

“I left messages at his home phone after I found his number on the Internet,” the woman told ABC News in Denver. “I called his bank and a Harley Davidson dealer listed on a business card in his wallet.”

She also contacted the police. Eventually, the owner of the wallet filed a police report.

From ABC Denver:

Police phoned [the woman] back and asked her for the wallet. She said she was going to hang on to it until she heard from [the owner] what he wanted her to do.

She said police became aggressive and demanding, but she held firm.

“I just didn’t need to be bullied,” she said.

Police then arrested [the woman], and charged her with interference.

“I said, ‘Are you serious? I’m going to jail for trying to return a guy’s wallet to him,’” [the woman] said.

The first attempt to prosecute apparently ended in a mistrial, so they’re going at it again. She faces a possible sentence of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted of interference.

The owner of the wallet says he’d love it if both the police and the women just dropped the whole thing and shook hands.

Woman Arrested After Trying To Return Wallet [ABC Denver]

Comments

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  1. KarbonKopy says:

    Why wouldn’t she return it to the Police? That doesn’t make any sense…..

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Because Sting isn’t known for his honesty?

      /zing

    • Taed says:

      My first reaction is that she was hoping to get a reward. That’s the only reason I could think of to not give it to the police when they requested it.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Holding out for a reward?

    • spamtasticus says:

      If you had read the stories of cops simply pocketing things like this as I have you would understand. I’m not saying that was her motivation but rather what came to my mind when I read this story.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        I was thinking the same thing. I don’t know if that means I’m cynical or a realist about my local police. :/

      • Chaosium says:

        That happens when there is no police report. Filing the police report is where everything is documented and the owner is notified.

        • spamtasticus says:

          What is stopping the cop from “cataloging” the wallet minus the cash?

          • Chaosium says:

            “What is stopping the cop from “cataloging” the wallet minus the cash?”

            The police report, which is still more trustworthy than this lady.

            • Roclawzi says:

              I don’t understand that logic. The police report is a neutral document, with the speculation of the amount of money in the wallet by the one who lost it in it, but has no bearing on how much the police “find” in the returned wallet.

              If I were a good person, which I’m really not (at least not at this lady’s level), and I had put work into finding the owner of the wallet, I wouldn’t just hand it over to a middleman. I made an effort to make sure that the wallet was returned, intact, and I can do that best by delivering it directly to the owner.

              • Chaosium says:

                As in, you verify the document when you hand it over to the police. It has everything to do with the money found in the wallet as witnessed by both parties.

                “I wouldn’t just hand it over to a middleman. I made an effort to make sure that the wallet was returned, intact, and I can do that best by delivering it directly to the owner.”

                Then don’t get the bloody cops involved in the first place.

                • Difdi says:

                  Reading is apparently too difficult for you.

                  • Chaosium says:

                    “She also contacted the police.”

                    I’m not the one with a reading problem. It’s a small, short article. Apparently you still managed to miss the gist of it.

                    • Roclawzi says:

                      Contacting the police is fine, really. They may be able to put the owner in contact with you. However, the police are not a lost and found, that’s not their purpose. There was no crime for them to be involved in, so they are using an obstruction charge for the “crime” of ‘saying no to the police’.

                      This is, at best, like a cop who tickets you for speeding at 3 miles over the limit because you got the last McMuffin at the rest stop to make the Mc10:35. It’s not justice, it’s not protection, it’s irritation.

          • spamtasticus says:

            An interesting article with a good take (in my opinion) on this incident:

            http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2011/01/no-good-deed-goes-unpunished.html

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i filed a police report for a stolen bike the day it was stolen, including serial #. 360 days later the bike was returned to me. every bit of metal on it was rusted and the paint was peeling. the report said it was found the day after i reported it in a ditch in the rain. it was put away, soaking wet, into the back of a storage unit where the police kept found items.
          they didn’t check it against the police reports until the day they emptied the unit for the annual fundraiser auction.
          while the cops might actually find stuff, i personally don’t have a lot of confidence in their ability to get it back to the owner, based on my experience.

    • bluline says:

      Because the police have no right to demand that she hand it over as they have no proof, absent an inspection of the wallet and its contents, that it does not belong to her. The wallet may not belong to her, but it does not belong to them, either. If they want it that badly, they should get a warrant for it.

    • bluline says:

      Because the police have no right to demand that she hand it over as they have no proof, absent an inspection of the wallet and its contents, that it does not belong to her. The wallet may not belong to her, but it does not belong to them, either. If they want it that badly, they should get a warrant for it.

    • bluline says:

      From the article, it appears that the police made the demand to turn over the wallet while on the phone with the woman who found it. Although it’s not clear, the assumption I make is that they arrested her at her home because of her refusal. Under the Fourth Amendment, unless the police present a warrant there is no requirement for a homeowner to respond to a police presence at the door. You can refuse to open the door or simply remain silent and not even acknowledge that the police are outside.

  2. Rebecca K-S says:

    I certainly don’t think she should go to jail over it, but jeez, why didn’t she just hand it over?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      As others have alluded to, it was either $$$$(i.e. a reward) or she wanted the attention(possibly for a news story?). Personally, I don’t expect a reward. Mostly because I don’t want to pay someone to return something to me that is clearly mine, if the roles were reversed.

      • nutbastard says:

        if you get a reward, you’re just selling your karma for cheap. good deeds must be done from a perspective of empathy and not personal gain, else the deed wasn’t “good”.

      • LandruBek says:

        You forgot a third option (and maybe others): not trusting the police.

        • Chaosium says:

          Nice post-hoc rationalization, but she called them and filed a police report, Serpico.

          • NatalieErin says:

            Read it again – the wallet owner filed a police report, not the wallet finder.

            • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

              Read it again yourself. From the article:
              “She also contacted the police.”

              Which means she filed a report with the police. How else did they know how to contact her?

            • MattSaintCool says:

              “She also contacted the police. Eventually, the owner of the wallet filed a police report.”

              I can’t tell if you missed that part and just wanted to call somone out without checking, or if you’re being a bitch about semantics (i.e. she “contacted the police” instead of “filed a police report”)…

            • Chaosium says:

              “Read it again – the wallet owner filed a police report, not the wallet finder.”

              If that’s the case, that makes the wallet finder in a MUCH worse position, and far closer to stealing for the refusal to give back the wallet.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          And? If you are that concerned, here’s what you do. Go down to the police station with a witness, have an officer write out an inventory of the wallet, then you, the officer, and your witness sign. Each keep a copy. In fact, I bet the police HAVE a found property form already that has carbon copies.

          Even more paranoid? Then write an inventory with a friend in the presence of a notary, both sign & stamp the inventory, seal wallet in envelope, sign along the flap & stamp that, then submit a copy of the inventory and the envelope to the police, and have them note that the seal was intact when they received it. I mean, I own currency deposit envelopes that have seals that destroy if you attempt to open them.

          Either of those steps would be enough to ensure the contents get there. To be honest, as the wallet owner, I’d be more paranoid the longer someone held onto something.

    • Hoss says:

      When she says she didn’t need to be bullied, I trust her statement. The police may have threatened her with arrest while in her mind she was doing the right thing.

      • Cosmo_Kramer says:

        They may have threatened to arrest her because they had cause to arrest her. “I don’t need to be bullied” does not change that. Her attitude was silly, and it cost her.

      • Chaosium says:

        “When she says she didn’t need to be bullied, I trust her statement. “

        She’s not being bullied. She’s being arrested for holding now-stolen property.

  3. danmac says:

    A lot of ridiculousness here to go around…the woman should have returned the wallet to the police when the owner filed a report. The police shouldn’t have arrested the woman once they had the wallet since she wasn’t actually committing a crime against anyone. The DA shouldn’t have pressed charges against someone who was trying to do the right thing…etc.

    • Sturta says:

      The idiot who lost the wallet should have called her back. I would have made an attempt to return in, then I would have “lost” it again on the bus. He didn’t care, why should she?

      • Azzizzi says:

        That’s what puzzled me, too, but the article said that she called the home number that she found on the Internet. This may not have even been his number.

      • BluePlastic says:

        He was on a trip from Denver to Wyoming, where she lives. Even if she got the right phone number, he wasn’t home. He was in Wyoming.

      • SabreDC says:

        In the world where all communication is done online, many people are now simply afraid of talking to other people directly. There are people on my team at work who constantly ask me “Can you call so-and-so and ask…?” or “I emailed so-and-so but I can’t get a hold of him.” Geez people, just pick up the phone and call them.

        People need to stop being so scared of human interaction.

        • outlulz says:

          We also live in a world where you meet someone you don’t know from the internet and they mug you or kill you. It’s possible that the owner wanted the entire deal to go through the police rather than give this stranger his e-mail, phone number, address or meet in person.

          • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

            That may be true, but I can’t help but point out how irrational and paranoid that is. What are the odds that the woman who happened to find your wallet turns out to be a manaic who is going to drug you and steal your kidney, etc?

          • SabreDC says:

            Can they mug or kill you over the telephone? I’m sure there would have been no issue if the guy called her and explained that he reported it as lost so he would rather it go through the police so they can close the report.

    • spamtasticus says:

      The police should have simply given the man her phone number and told him she has it and wants to return it. Period.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I don’t blame him for not wanting to be in direct contact with a person who would find him on the internet and call his bank.

        • spamtasticus says:

          To return a wallet? You make it sound like this woman is creepy because she tried hard to get it back to him. I’m confused.

          • erinpac says:

            Well, if your wallet is missing you might not really know if the person calling found it or took it, which could certainly make you wary.

        • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

          If that’s the only way to find someone, I don’t see the problem with it. If she were smart, she would of just met the gentleman at a central location, either the bank or the Harley Davidson dealership and handed the wallet back over.

          I can’t say I read the article, so if I’m mistaken then please let me know, but if she tried how many different venues to get in contact with the guy and he never called back/answered her… why wouldn’t she just hand it over to the cops? Consider your good deed “not happening” and wash your hands clean of it?

    • Chaosium says:

      “The police shouldn’t have arrested the woman once they had the wallet since she wasn’t actually committing a crime against anyone.”

      She was in possession of property that didn’t belong to her.

      • danmac says:

        After they had the wallet, she was no longer in possession of it. She obviously wasn’t a thief, just someone with misplaced intentions. This is why police officers are allowed to give warnings – some people breaking the law aren’t really worth busting.

    • sumocat says:

      “The police shouldn’t have arrested the woman once they had the wallet since she wasn’t actually committing a crime against anyone.” — How does that make sense? Do bank robbers not go to jail if all the money is recovered?

  4. Brontide says:

    Legally she should have returned it to the police, but prosecuting the case seems like lunacy.

    • fatediesel says:

      It seems especially crazy to prosecute it twice. They are spending thousands of dollars to prosecute something so minor multiple times.

    • spamtasticus says:

      Would you kindly link to or quote the relevant text of the relevant law that made it a legal requirement for this woman to give the wallet to the police instead of wanting to hand it to it’s rightful owner.

      Thank you

      • Brontide says:

        Have fun reading, the statutes are pretty similar in most states.

        http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusflst705_01_19.htm

        • Straspey says:

          Yeah – that’s really the crux of the matter.

          Once the owner files a police report, the wallet then becomes legally lost, abandoned or stolen property. Now the police are involved and there is an open case.

          Being aware that the wallet was not her property, and having been contacted by the police on behalf of the owner, she had no legal or valid reason to refuse to comply with the police request to surrender the wallet – and the thoughts, ideas or wishes of the owner are really none of her business – whatever they may be.

          This is one reason why an insurance company will require you to file a police report before making a claim for lost, stolen or damaged property – because by filing a report with the police – because filing a false report is illegal and will be used against you in a case of insurance fraud.

          The wallet was not the property of the woman and – once the owner had been identified and contacted – she had no legal rights to make any decisions as to its disposition – especially once the police became involved.

      • theellimac says:

        I would think since a police report had been made on the wallet that explains the police involvement. Something is not being fully explained here. It seems like the owner flat out did not want to deal with this woman.

        • BluePlastic says:

          Yeah, I think that’s the clincher – the guy had made a police report. That probably is what pushed it over the line into a violation on her part when she wouldn’t cooperate after the owner had enlisted help from the police. Also…if she found his number on the Internet, assuming it was the right number, she should have been able to see that the area was not local. It would be possible, while she was on the Internet anyway, to see what state that area code was from. She’s a dingbat. It’s probably not worth prosecuting her, but she was being a dingbat.

      • Brontide says:

        Specifically…

        “(3) It is unlawful for any person who finds any lost or abandoned property to appropriate the same to his or her own use or to refuse to deliver the same when required.

        (4) Any person who unlawfully appropriates such lost or abandoned property to his or her own use or refuses to deliver such property when required commits theft as defined in s. 812.014, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”

    • Brontide says:

      Why did I think this was florida?!

      Wyoming would be common law. “the common law rule that a finder’s interests are always subordinate to the true owner’s. In fact, it is said the goal under common law is to reunite the lost property with its true owner. Not all states have enacted such laws; in those states without a statutory scheme, the common law rule applies.”

      and interference …

      “(a) A person commits a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or both, if he knowingly obstructs, impedes or interferes with or resists arrest by a peace officer while engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties.”

      • packcamera says:

        “Why did I think this was florida?!”

        Because bat-sh*t crazy stories always come out of Florida – mostly the central and northern part of the state. This instance is one of the rare exceptions to the rule.

      • Papa Bear says:

        I think you are confusing common law with statutory law. Common law is not enacted it is the law of precedent. Common law can be codified and become statutory law, but until then, there is no enactment, but only judicial precedent. So you are implying by writing “Wyoming would be common law,” is that Wyoming has no enacted law and judges base each decision on the rule of stare decisis. I find that hard to believe.

    • Nevada Scribbler says:

      I’m not Perry Mason, but I do believe there has to be an intent to commit a crime and the actual act of committing a crime in order for a crime to occur. Jackbooted thugs with badges if you ask me.

  5. danmac says:

    By the way, the headline is misleading…she’s not facing a year in prison; she’s facing a year in prison if convicted and if sentenced to a year in prison, which she won’t be. She’ll get probation at worst.

    • hymie! says:

      Um… that’s what “facing a year in prison” means.

      • spamtasticus says:

        That depends on what “is” is.

      • jimmyhl says:

        A+

      • danmac says:

        Common vernacular is to write that the woman “could face” a year in prison.

        • Murph1908 says:

          No. You could face a year in prison if you committed a crime. You are facing a year in prison for being arrested for a crime.

          That’s my pulse on the vernacular. I agree with Spam.

          But bottom line, your comment is very nitpicky for no reason.

          • danmac says:

            That’s your opinion, and I completely disagree with it. I am not trying to be pedantic. When I read the headline, I took it to mean that a woman who tried to return a wallet was sentenced to a year in jail. That is very different from what happened (as she has not been convicted). This is because there was no qualifying statement like “If convicted” before the headline. Notice a similar sentence in the article that uses several qualifiers:

            She faces a possible sentence of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted of interference.

            I’m not nitpicking a comma here; I’m pointing out something that changes the meaning of the headline altogether. It’s like saying “Man crossing street faces instant death” in the headline, then qualifying it in the article with “if he doesn’t look both ways and gets hit by a car”.

  6. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    This is just damned stupid, and one of the many reasons the country is broke (Yes, morally, too) What does it cost to prosecute a good Samaritan TWICE?

    Another case of police egos and their need to be obeyed run amok.

    • mikedt says:

      The DA was probably worried about his win/loss ratio. He had to press on. Well that was until this became TV News fodder and he now looks like an idiot. I’m sure there will soon be a press release saying they dropped the case.

    • rushevents says:

      This has nothing to do with police egos – the DA prosecutes the case, not the police. The police were simply following the procedure as prescribed by law.

      She was being a dingbat when she refused to follow instructions given her by a duly sworn officer of the law simply because she didn’t feel like being hassled. (and probably because she wanted a reward of some kind).

      I just don’t understand it when people are rude to the police. What does that ever get them? In her case it has cost her big money time and stress by the box car load. Hmmm… some payoff.

      • botulismo says:

        Yeah, but are you honestly saying that the police always follow procedure? I know police are given some discretion as to how they handle things; whether that discretion is officially sanctioned simply a part of ordinary police behavior is a moot point. The fact that they did not use discretion nor common sense in this case shows that it is an ego issue.

    • Chaosium says:

      “a good Samaritan”

      She’s not a good Samaritan. She’s driven by ego or the need for compensation.

      • LandruBek says:

        Maybe, maybe not. Remember Rashomon: we don’t know if she’s a black hat or a white hat, we don’t know all the motives at work, we barely know any of the facts.

    • stormbird says:

      It’s not a case of police ego. The woman clearly broke the law of ‘respecting my authoritah.’/cartman

  7. evilpete says:

    I am glad she went to trial and I hope she wins ( then sues )

    • spamtasticus says:

      The only problem with this is that not only to the taxpayers pay for the prosecution of this good samaritan, we will then pay of the damages resulting from the lawsuit. We need to start holding the police accountable for their actions and not the taxpayers.

      • RunawayJim says:

        The taxpayers elected the DA who wants to prosecute this woman, did they not?

      • danic512 says:

        It would make more sense for police departments and prosecutors’ offices to carry something similar to malpractice insurance. That why when Officer Jones feels like beating the crap out of someone or the DA wants to pretend he’s the dude from Law & Order the city (and thus the taxpayers) don’t suffer unexpected damages to their budgets.

        If you make the rates (and changes in rates) over a given area public knowledge, it would be much easier to track abuses as well.

    • Papa Bear says:

      What would be her cause of action? The police have immunity as long as they are acting within the just limits of their duties. Retrieving a stolen wallet is their duty. They did not step outside of the limits of their duty by demanding the wallet no matter how forcefully they acted. They had every legal right to physically restrain her and take the wallet away from her. They did not need a warrant to act because she had informed them that the wallet was the missing wallet from the complaint. Once she refused to turn it over, she could have easily been charge with the far more serious crime of theft. The DA is acting well within his duty to prosecute and he had an obligation based upon his sworn duty, also. People simply do not have the right to interfere with the police and DA’s simply cannot pick and choose what cases they prosecute.

    • roaster says:

      Or this lady could have NOT committed the crime of interefering with a police investigation in the first place and none of us would have to worry about any of it …

  8. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Once the police report was filed, why couldn’t she just give it to the police? Maybe a good Samaritan, but not the smartest Samaritan.

  9. Shadowfire says:

    No good deed goes unpunished. I wouldn’t have given it to the police either.

    • BluePlastic says:

      Why not? It’s apparent that the guy who lost the wallet didn’t want to deal with her. It’d have been a lot easier on her to just give it to the police and let them contact the guy. Maybe they could have written her a “receipt” of sorts so she’d have proof she gave it to them.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Very common. I received such a receipt from the military police years ago when I turned in a wallet and a watch.

  10. Qantaqa says:

    I know I’m just a bitter, jaded shell of a human being, but is anyone else getting the vibe that the woman was super-focused on the “I did a good deed” high? That would explain why she didn’t hand it to the fuzz; she wanted the kudos, with or without chocolate chips.

    Still shouldn’t have to go through the hassle of litigation, though.

  11. Dragro says:

    I love how the woman says “I’m a law abiding citizen”. Last I checked “law abiding citizens” do what the police tell you to unless its something clearly illegal. My guess is she wanted to give it to the guy herself hoping to get a reward. Of course actually taking the woman to trial over this is ridiculous and I hope that place fires their DA.

    • curmudgeon5 says:

      No. Law-abiding citizens follow the law, which is different from doing what the police tell you to do. In many cases, the police can tell you something that you’re legally entitled to choose not to do (even if their instruction isn’t illegal, per se).

      One step better than mere law-abiding is knowing your rights and knowing the limitations of the police.

      • rambo76098 says:

        This. X1000. Don’t be a wuss when it comes to your rights just because the adult bully has a badge and gun.

        Also, everyone should listen to this lecture from a law prof on the police. Includes speech from a cop confirming what the lawyer is saying and admitting to tricking people into confessing.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

    • KeithIrwin says:

      The law does not say that you have to do anything that a policeman tells you do. Rather, it outlines certain situations where police can give certain commands which people are required to obey. Abiding the laws doesn’t mean doing everything that an authority says. People who don’t see the difference between obeying the laws and obeying the commands of an authority figure are a big part of what’s wrong with this country.

      • majortom1981 says:

        The law states that you have to give things that are deemed lost via police report over to the police if they know another person has it.

      • Dragro says:

        Simply by calling them an authority figure proves my point. They are given authority over the common citizen, “law” can’t outline every little thing thats right and wrong, so these people are given the power to use their best judgement. Should their judgement turn out to be wrong then thats what the court system and the legal process are for. As my boss used to tell us “when that white cop pulls me over, he can call me every racist name in the book and I’ll still do what he asks with a yes sir. That way when I bring his ass in front of judge I will be 100% correct and no one will have anything on me”

    • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

      Last I checked “law abiding citizens” do what the police tell you to unless its something clearly illegal.

      No, that’s what obsequious Authoritarian Followers do. “Law abiding citizens” do whatever the hell they want as long as it isn’t against the law.

      • Dragro says:

        Generally speaking you are required by law to follow police directions. Maybe you don’t like that law but it is on the book pretty much everywhere in the USA.

        • evnmorlo says:

          They can’t just tell you to do anything, especially on the phone.

        • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

          Generally speaking you are required by law to follow police directions.

          Horseshit.

          When driving; when being legally detained or arrested; when at or near the scene of a criminal investigation or a police officer actually discharging his official duties; all of these are circumstances where it is likely that you may be required to obey a police command. There are also others specified in various different laws in different jurisdictions.

          But absent specific statutory authority (either relating to the order itself or the circumstances under which it is being given) the police have no authority over you. The police are public servants – not our masters.

        • Difdi says:

          If a police officer ordered you to do something they cannot legally order anyone to do, you would obey?

          If a police officer ordered you to commit a crime, you’d feel obligated to obey?

      • Chaosium says:

        “No, that’s what obsequious Authoritarian Followers do. “Law abiding citizens” do whatever the hell they want as long as it isn’t against the law.”

        Rule of law without exception is generally a bad thing, but I’m comfortable with someone being arrested for holding my property for ransom. The police were dragged in and they are responsible for its return. She has no business touching it any longer once the report is filed.

        • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

          Rule of law without exception is generally a bad thing, but I’m comfortable with someone being arrested for holding my property for ransom. The police were dragged in and they are responsible for its return. She has no business touching it any longer once the report is filed.

          Mostly I agree. My responses were to the mindless “you have to do what the police tell you” drones.

      • PhantomPumpkin says:

        Correct. Except, you have to obey the lawful orders of a police officer while engaged in the lawful course of their duties. She did not.

    • cocodash says:

      Yep. My thoughts exactly.

  12. spamtasticus says:

    The wallet was not stolen and loss is not a crime. So I wonder. What official police business was she being charged with interfering with? I mean besides the crime of not obeying any and all orders given to her by an officer. You notice I did not say “lawful order” which is all you should ever obey from a police officer.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      She’s interfering with the police doing their job, which is getting the wallet back to the owner. Obviously, the owner didn’t want to deal with the woman and wanted to file a report instead. I don’t think she should go to jail for it, but I do think she should have turned over the wallet.

      • spamtasticus says:

        Why is it obvious to you that the man did not want to deal with the woman? From the story it appears that she called a number she found online. I’m guessing it was the wrong guy. Then a harley dealership. I’m guessing he did not know she had it. Furthermore, the Police’s job is to enforce law. Not run a lost and found service. If there was no crime then the should have just put the two in contact. That is my point.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Okay, wait, I re-read the post. The post made it seem like he was aware of the woman’s existance, and where the wallet was, but the article made it obvious that he didn’t know she had the wallet.

          However, there’s this: “I think she took the wrong choice of action.” The owner said he wishes Heinrich had given the wallet to police. I suppose that he would have wanted her to take the wallet to the police instead of keeping it and waiting for him.

          • Twonkey says:

            As I understood it, he’s of that opinion due to how everything turned out. He would rather have had her just turn the wallet in to police when asked than to hold onto it out of some misguided sense of duty and end up facing jail time for it. Doesn’t necessarily mean that he’d have been of the same opinion had she handed it over to him under different circumstances.

          • spamtasticus says:

            I think that was a statement he made in hindsight after the prosecutor went off the deep end.

        • theellimac says:

          I thought it was kind of inferred that the cops found out she had it from her attempts to return it to the owner.

      • Brontide says:

        She is charged with petit larceny for failing to follow florida statue on the disposition of lost personal property. Basically the law says that if you fail to turn over the property when required then you are guilty of stealing it.

        • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

          Florida statute does not apply in other states… and this isn’t Florida.

    • Brontide says:

      http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusflst705_01_19.htm

      Lost property in most states including Florida with intrinsic value must be turned over to a LEO, failure to do so can makes you a thief yourself.

  13. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Yeah. Find a wallet? Take it to the police. Open it maybe to look for obvious ID–it might belong to someone you know, and thus save them some trouble, but if you do not know the person, don’t try to find them and contact them yourself.

    That is just creepy.

    Also, information you can find on the internet might be outdated or incorrect.

    • spamtasticus says:

      You think it is creepy to try to find the owner of a wallet you find to try and return it to them? I don’t understand why? If then then asked them for a date involving a six pack of Vaseline and a spatula I would understand but to simply return it?

      • Chaosium says:

        “You think it is creepy to try to find the owner of a wallet you find to try and return it to them?”

        When the possessor of the wallet wants you to go through the official channels and you persist in demanding a face to face meeting, absolutely.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      It depends upon circumstances. I work at a university, and it’s not uncommon to have wallets or keys turned in to our office. In the case of a wallet with ID, it’s straightforward to look the person up and email rather than contacting campus or city police. I’d personally appreciate someone trying to contact me before giving my wallet to the police.

      That said, if police asked me to turn over the wallet I would have willingly done so.

  14. FenrirIII says:

    Lesson: Obey the damn police and don’t be a stubborn ass.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Failing to obey the police, even if they give you an unlawful order, is a good way to get your ass whooped, not to mention tased and arrested.

    • spamtasticus says:

      Would you blindly obey these cops:

      http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com/

      There is a difference between an order from a cop and a lawful order from a cop.

      • Chaosium says:

        “There is a difference between an order from a cop and a lawful order from a cop.”

        This was without a doubt a most lawful order. There is no subjective question. The property did not belong to her and the owner did not want to deal with her.

    • jason in boston says:

      That’s right citizen! Obey!

  15. Bativac says:

    If this was me, the person would get one phone call. After that, I’d extract all cash from the wallet, shred the remaining contents, and burn whatever’s left.

    I have never found a lost wallet, and I hope I don’t, because that’s a lot of trouble I’d have to go thru.

    • pop top says:

      What the hell is wrong with you? Why would you steal and destroy someone’s personal property? You are either trying to be an Internet Tough Guy or are really just a pathetic asshole who shouldn’t be around people.

      • AI says:

        He said he’d make one phone call, which is completely reasonable. If the person is too busy to return a phone call to get something as important as their wallet back, it’s easy to assume they don’t want it.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          Being unavailable != don’t want it. He was on the road. How is he supposed to answer a phone he’s 100s of miles away from?

          If it’s that much damn trouble then don’t pick up the wallet in the first place. Being lazy does not justify theft.

    • Chaosium says:

      “If this was me, the person would get one phone call. After that, I’d extract all cash from the wallet, shred the remaining contents, and burn whatever’s left.”

      So what you’re saying is that you’re still a thief, just one with a false sense of morality.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Your morals aren’t exactly “great” but wouldn’t you be better off pocketing the cash, and sending the wallet to the address on the license? At least return the person’s wallet, even if you did nab the cash out of it. Most people just want the ID’s, credit cards, and other things back. It’s harder to replace them than the cash!

  16. Tim says:

    They’re retrying for a crime with a maximum sentence of one year and $1,000 fine? Seriously?

    Some DA is bored out of his mind.

  17. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It seems like there must be more to this story.

    I’m guessing that in the process of tracking down and leaving message for the original owner, she did or said something that skeeved him out and he did not want to deal with her directly. He probably wanted to the police to act as an intermediary and to create a paper trail in case of future identity theft, missing items, or if she was a stalker-type.

    • LightningUsagi says:

      That’s what I thought. When I saw that she was trying to track him down online, I thought ‘stalker’. He was probably put off by the fact that she kept calling and said she had his wallet and didn’t want to meet with her personally. Plus, for all he knew, she’d stolen it in the first place and was trying to ransom it back.

    • Chaosium says:

      “I’m guessing that in the process of tracking down and leaving message for the original owner, she did or said something that skeeved him out and he did not want to deal with her directly”

      Exactly, the demand for recompense for her “troubles”.

  18. ellmar says:

    If she didn’t want to hand it over to the police she could have just have mailed the damn thing to him and gotten it over with. Sounds to me like the owner was wary of the finder. Perhaps her vaguely stalkerish behavior? Maybe she hinted that a reward was in order?

  19. macoan says:

    Shes was NOT arrested for trying return a wallet – she was arrested for interfering with the police.

    I hate when people confuse the story – lets take an extreme situation.

    A man was about to take a sucker away from a baby, so I shot him with my gun and killed him.

    NOW I’m being charged with murder for trying to help a baby not have his candy taken away.

    (See – i’m not being charged for murder because I was trying to help the baby – I’m being charged with murder because I killed someone… no matter the reason it was done.)

    • Dragro says:

      I agree, but to be fair is seems overboard to go to trial. Make her spend the night in jail then send her on her way.

    • Hoss says:

      I take it that not allowing police to take possession of the wallet was the obstruction. It’s not like she was lying about the facts of the matter, or obstructing police work in any other way

  20. chatcub71 says:

    lame…….all of it lame, take the money, throw the wallet in a mailbox, problem solved.

    • YokoOhNo says:

      after hearing this story…+100

      ..or i might throw it over a bridge if it’s convenient. I don’t want the cops to charge me with a Federal Crime and get the FBi, NSA and Materland Security involved with using a mailbox.

    • cocodash says:

      Classy.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      I just wrote that to someone else… if you wanna keep the cash, fine. You live with the guilt or the fact that you are a complete asshole. But friggin RETURN THE WALLET at least; most people just want their shit back, they know the cash will probably be gone anyway.

    • erinpac says:

      That’s how my friend got his wallet back. Actually it was rather nice – it just showed up in the mail one day. Disregarding some unusual circumstance, I wouldn’t normally have more than $20 in my wallet anyways – the cards are the important part, and that doesn’t seem a bad loss for the convenience of having the wallet sent home, not arranging anything with some random stranger who found it, getting all the cards back, etc.

    • Invader Zim says:

      I returned a wallet that I found on the ground at a auction. I just mailed it to the owner with all of its contents as I found them. Done deal.

  21. FireJayPa says:

    Maybe she was worried about the chain of custody and feared that the cops would “misplace” the wallet or possibly “the contents” of the wallet.

    • obits3 says:

      As far as she is concerned, she just needs them to give her a document saying that she gave it to them. By filing a police report, the guy is saying “I want the police to act in my place and find the wallet.” Refusing to give the wallet to the police is like refusing to give the wallet to the guy. Thus, like it or not, she became a thief.

    • Chaosium says:

      More likely that he’d forget about it and she’d keep the leftovers.

      If you’re “guessing”, that’s a far more valid fantasy than the corrupt cop movie trope.

  22. theellimac says:

    I had something kind of similar to this happen to me a few years ago when I lost a fairly expensive smartphone. I immediately had the phone turned off, and replaced. About 3 weeks later, my parents started getting phone calls between 2-3 AM, from a man I did not know wanting me come to his apartment to “return” my phone to me. Call me old fashioned, but there was something straight up creepy about this to me. At the time I was working for a local city government and I had one of the police officers call the man and ask him to drop it by. The guy came by and dropped it off no problem. Turns out he was a bartender and kept late hours and was very nice about the whole thing. Still though I never would have gotten my phone back if I had to go to some stranger’s apartment to get it.

  23. AntiNorm says:

    Possession of a credit card belonging to someone else is a felony in many places, not to mention how easy it would be to accuse the finder of stealing cash. If I found a lost wallet, and it didn’t have the owner’s phone number in it, my first call would be to the police. Here, you guys can deal with it, because I don’t want the liability of having someone else’s wallet in my possession.

    • theellimac says:

      I found a Bank of America debit card on a sidewalk outside of a Starbucks once. I took it to Bank of America and put it in their night drop.

  24. Brunette Bookworm says:

    If she contacted police in the first place about it why wasn’t she willing to give it to them? It just sounds weird. Not everyone is willing to meet up with a stranger to get their stuff back.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Exactly. I’m not buying the “didn’t trust the police” excuse when she called them about it. Besides, the owner called the police as well and if he’s willing to have it handed over to the police then why should she care?

      • spamtasticus says:

        She states that she did not like the way the cops where with her. I’m guessing they where belligerent, something very rare with cops, and she basically just told them she would just deal with it herself. The not trusting them as a reason was something I introduced early in this thread as a possibility only.

        • Chaosium says:

          They got belligerent because she wouldn’t immediately return the wallet after filing the police report.

        • Chaosium says:

          But anyway, belligerence IS odd for a cop when someone’s not acting suspicious. They turn very quickly to anger and seriousness when someone tells them “nuh-uh” once a very reasonable request is made of them.

  25. coren says:

    Everyone involved in this story is completely ridiculous.

  26. Krusty783 says:

    Casper must be the safest city in the country if the police and DA have the time to jerk this woman around like this. Boredom and ego of both the arresting officer and prosecutor are the only reason I can see for wasting the public’s money on this.

  27. YokoOhNo says:

    The moral of the story is to never talk to the police. Anything you say CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU…nothing you say will be used to benefit you!!!!

    The cops probably wanted to steal the money and credit cards before it was returned to the owner.

    • Chaosium says:

      “The cops probably wanted to steal the money and credit cards before it was returned to the owner.”

      Oh bullshit, then a police report wouldn’t have been documented into evidence.

      • spamtasticus says:

        His main point is that anything and everything you say to a cop can and will be used against you. What people don’t realize is that cops long long ago stopped behaving like Andy Griffith a long long time ago. They are the enforcement arm of the prosecutors office officially and revenue collectors in practice. I’m not saying that every cop is a corrupt, megalomaniac government lackey as I have a few friends that are great cops including one that was driven out after 20 years on the force for “not giving enough tickets”. All I’m saying, colorfully I admit, is that when considering situations that involve police officers you should remove the rose colored glasses and think of them as real people with real flaws and real motivations. You should not see them as the idealistic icon of good and decency because that is just not the case.

        Two interesting reads on the subject:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc
        http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com/

        • Chaosium says:

          “All I’m saying, colorfully I admit, is that when considering situations that involve police officers you should remove the rose colored glasses and think of them as real people with real flaws and real motivations. “

          Don’t file a police report if everyone’s out to get you, which no bits of evidence have come into play to justify. Stupid IS often enough to get you arrested. A willful ignorance of the crime she’s committing doesn’t justify her behavior.

  28. Mish says:

    This ridiculous post is just one more example why this site has gone downhill.

  29. xamarshahx says:

    she is retarded and so are the cops!! both should be fined and imprisoned for a day for their stupidity.

  30. mythago says:

    Something is very weird here. It’s not up to the police to prosecute – it’s up to the DA. The article doesn’t explain what their reason is for taking this to trial, or why there was actually a mistrial (rather than an instant acquittal).

  31. Chaosium says:

    “Police phoned [the woman] back and asked her for the wallet. She said she was going to hang on to it until she heard from [the owner] what he wanted her to do.

    She said police became aggressive and demanding, but she held firm.”

    This sounds incredibly weird and becomes the point in which I lose sympathy.

  32. January says:

    Always turn these things into the police. I found someones wallet two years ago in a parking lot and headed right to the police station. They emptied the contents in front of me and found credit cards, drivers license, social security card, and a whole host of other important docs like bank account numbers, etc. – an identity thief’s bonanza. (No cash tho.) The officer was like, “whoa…this woman is going to appreciate YOU”. I left after they took all my information on who I was. Never heard back. I think they returned it via the motor vehicle information.

  33. danmac says:

    That’s your opinion, and I completely disagree with it. I am not trying to be pedantic. When I read the headline, I took it to mean that a woman who tried to return a wallet was sentenced to a year in jail. That is very different from what happened (as she has not been convicted). This is because there was no qualifying statement like “If convicted” before the headline. Notice a similar sentence in the article that uses several qualifiers:

    She faces a possible sentence of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted of interference.

    I’m not nitpicking a comma here; I’m pointing out something that changes the meaning of the headline altogether.

  34. EarthAngel says:

    “He said he wasn’t able to finish his vacation because he didn’t have his cash or credit cards.”

    I’d be pretty pissed, too if she didn’t turn the wallet over just to fulfill some personal need of personally handing over the wallet. Besides, I wouldn’t want the police to tell a virtual stranger where I’m at. If she wanted kudos, she should have left her contact information in the wallet so that she could be reached.

    She shouldn’t have held the man’s wallet hostage because the police were being aggressive.

    “Heinrich said she was willing to take his wallet to him, but that police never told him that.”

    The police aren’t supposed to be used as a go-between. If they were in touch with the man, she should have handed the wallet over. It doesn’t belong to her. Once the police have it, whatever happens to it after that is not her concern.

  35. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    IT sounds like three people who have no trust for humankind:
    -The owner probably thought the lady was nuts for getting in touch with him, so she couldn’t be trusted
    -The lady probably thought that the police wouldn’t do their job to return the wallet, so they couldn’t be trusted
    -The police wanted to uphold their duties, so no one can be trusted anyway.

    Sad world we live in.

  36. bigd738778 says:

    Sounds like she was looking for a reward, and wouldn’t get one from the police. Eh, society sucks anyways.

  37. Carlee says:

    I wonder how much money was in this wallet, or how valuable the it was (sentimental?)? Could the wallet owner refuse to testify (or let the prosecutors know that he doesn’t want to travel to WY and testify) and maybe that would make the prosecutor re-think whether to re-try this case or not?

    Did they mention how much time passed through this whole incident (from the time he lost his wallet to her being arrested)? I would probably have cancelled my credit cards right away and just kissed the cash away. I guess I’m too cynical to expect that people actually get their lost wallets back… but according to the article, it sounds like he was hoping to get his wallet back right away so he could continue to enjoy his vacation?

    Also, I’m surprised that she contacted the police but then held on to the wallet. I imagine if you find a lost wallet (and can’t just return it t the store where you found it), that if you go to the police station to report this found wallet – wouldn’t you just hand it over then and there?

  38. rahntwo says:

    The poor woman! It’s not her fault. She just doesn’t understand how things work these days. Now that we are a socialist country, we are expected to give ALL our money to the government- including the police. The government will then decide who should get the money, and who should get their money taken from them. That was her only mistake.

  39. HighontheHill says:

    Casper is a small Wyoming town with some big city problems, drugs are of note, the cops aren’t very smart though obviously (have family their). Woman probably should have simply turned the wallet over, though the tact the pigs have taken seems excessive, she’ll prevail.

  40. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Like the Cambridge professor who resisted showing police an ID when he broke into a house (which happened to be his).
    The police motive was likely to protect a potential victim from a theft. What if you pick my pocket and they try to contact me? Even if that wasn’t the case, why argue with the police over this?

  41. jeffile says:

    It’s simple. If she holds on to it until the owner contacts her she can pressure him into giving a reward. If she gives it to the police, she’ll probably get nothing. She definetly shouldn’t have been charged but it seems she is not the really nice person she portrays.

  42. TooManyHobbies says:

    Just as a point of interest, when you find things and want them returned to the owner, you can just drop them into a mailbox. It’s actually part of the USPS’s charter to return items to their owners. You can just drop wallets in the mailbox. You’ve done your good deed for minimal fuss. I guess the only reason not to do this is if you are expecting to gain by your act.

    After finding this out, happened to find a wallet with hundreds in cash in it, and dropped it at the post office. I later called the owner and confirmed that she got it back only a day later (I got contact info from the ID before dropping it off – but it was hundreds of miles away and I didn’t want to deliver it myself) .

    • RandomHookup says:

      I guess I’d be a little ticked if I had to wait several days to get my wallet in the mail. If I just lost it and have my contact info in there, the return can happen in minutes rather than days.

      • TooManyHobbies says:

        Except that I called the person and she was already back home, 280 miles away, and neither of us wanted to drive a few hundred miles for the meet-up.

  43. dilbert69 says:

    I don’t get what all the fuss is about. The police ask for the wallet, you give it to them and ask for a receipt. Problem solved.

  44. Nevada Scribbler says:

    I think I know where she’s coming from. My father found a pricey Rolex watch left on the counter in a men’s room at Caesars Palace. He turned it in at the security desk. About an hour later I was playing zombie at a slot machine close to the security desk. She asked about the Rolex, saying her husband took if off to wash his hands and left it.
    Security guard said nobody had turned one in.
    Another time, paramedics stole a couple of rings off my friend, who had just died in a car crash.
    And finally, this lady had no legal duty to turn over the wallet. Finders keepers, right?

  45. Papa Bear says:

    She found a wallet, correct? She reported this to the police, correct? Owner of the wallet requested the police to find the wallet by filing the police report, correct? The police knew it was the lost wallet in the complaint because she told them it was, correct?The police requested or demanded (all a matter of perception) that she turn over the wallet, correct?

    All she needed to do was request a receipt from the police for the wallet and its contents and then turn it over. They would have provided that. If they refused to provide a receipt, then she should have made arrangements to turn the wallet over in front of a neutral third party such as an attorney. However, the police could not simply demand the wallet unless they knew for sure it was the wallet in the police report. Since she informed them it was, they had just cause to request it and her refusing to comply with that request amounts to a constructive interference with the police in their duties. Whether she had intent to interfere or not is the question before the jury.

  46. Kate20670 says:

    Here in NY, you’re required to turn in found property to the police if it’s worth more than $10. If you don’t, it’s considered criminal possession of stolen property.

    If the police ask you to turn in the found property and you don’t, you can add obstructing government administration and refusal to comply with the lawful orders of an officer to the charges.

    If this had taken place in New York, the officer doing the inventory would give her a receipt for the found property.

  47. massageon says:

    My Husband found a wallet at a park in ND this summer when we were out there taking pic. for a wedding we were in. He looked inside and there were a few hundred dollars and a cash advance contract. We tried calling the number on the paper to no avail. His address was listed on there though, and we actually drove to their apartment just before the wedding (with the bride and groom in tow none the less) and gave them back the wallet with ALL the cash. It felt great to give it back to them, and it was the right thing to do. We didn’t feel the need to contact the police though….

  48. Invader Zim says:

    Waste of tax payers money to press charges like that. Doesnt the police department know when to drop it? The wallet was recovered with her help. Lets grow up now and not act like big bullies and make the person who tried to return the wallet pay. stupid stuff here.

  49. carlita0001 says:

    I think that the woman understood that when the police get a hold of something, there is no telling when or if the owner will ever see it again. When my car was stolen, a woman found it outside her house. Rather than have it towed – and cost me several hundred dollars in the process – she found my home information and called me personally. I appreciated being saved the expense and untold days of trying to get my car back.