It was reported this week that an armored car turned over and spilled almost $200,000 USD on I-285 in Metro-Atlanta this past week. Unfortunately, people who would not ordinarily commit crimes were seen taking some of the money in what should be called no less than a mad frenzy. The result, is that people were committed the crime of Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property.
I have always found it curious that people who would not, for example, commit a robbery would engage in what is a crime of opportunity. Some of the people who took the money later even came to their senses and returned it to authorities.
That being said, it is also interesting that our website gets increased searches for certain crimes when they are in the news. I always wonder if that is because of the news stories or if people who have committed the illegal acts go out and search for "advice" on what they have done.
Both are likely true. For example, we often get calls from people who have visited prostitutes and and are worried about being caught when stories about prostitution rings are in the news. That being said, to engage in such activity is more of a pre-meditated crime. What happened with the over-turned armored car is a crime of opportunity. Crimes of opportunity are perplexing in the criminal justice system because they seem to be be committed by people who in other circumstances could go through an entire lifetime without being charged with a crime.
Let's Think Everyone
The point here is that ordinary people can make judgment mistakes. We help such people everyday, and we are happy to help if you have made such a mistake. That being said, there is no reason to put yourself in a situation where you engage in a crime of opportunity. Be smart.
Yesterday, I was at McDonalds (everyone who knows that I should not being eating there because of my diabetes is welcome to call me directly and yell at me) and I asked for a few dollars of my change to be deposited in the Ronald McDonald House charity box. As I drove off, the attendant appeared to pocket the dollar bills and dropped in the change.
I do not know that person's life or circumstances, but that person committed what would be a a misdemeanor theft in Georgia. I choose to let it go because I was 98% sure I knew what I saw, but not 100% sure. In my world, the presumption of innocence deserves 100% certainty. Nevertheless, I was disappointed in what I thought I saw.
Let's all think first before we do things we would not ordinarily do. I wonder (assuming I was correct) if the person who took the money thought they were stealing from me or if they realize they were stealing from children in the hospital.