By now, you've probably heard of the exceptionally honest college football players who rolled into a closed store and took off with several items, but dutifully left cash for the goods -- with tax included.
For once, you can say "kids these days" with a smile!
It's a super sweet story about "young ruffians" who aren't actually ruffians at all. And yet, several media reports have coined the Honest Abes as "honest burglars" -- which is legally inaccurate.
Here's how the media got it wrong:
Was It Really 'Burglary'?
A burglary occurs when a person:
- Unlawfully enters into almost any structure (it doesn't have to be a home or business),
- With the intent to commit any crime inside (not just theft/larceny).
Most states have done away with the "breaking" element, so waltzing in through an open door would be sufficient.
Here, the locks were faulty so the college students were able to open the door and walk right through, reports New York Daily News. The act of opening the door and walking in would be enough to count as entering without permission.
No Intent, Just Hearts of Gold
The major problem with calling the four teens "burglars" is that they never intended to commit a crime inside. After all, they thought the store was open, according to the Daily News.
In order for a break-in to constitute a burglary, the person breaking in must have the intent to commit a crime inside the building. Usually, this crime is theft, but other crimes can render a break-in a burglary, too.
Not only did the college newbies not have intent to commit a crime, but they went out of their way to actively follow the law. For crying out loud, they even included tax in their payment. (Do you even know how to do that manually?)
Lest we forget the erring ways of some young people these days (ahem, VMA's Miley Cyrus twerkathon and Tay Swift "STFU" debacle), let's not "rob" these decent kids of the unfettered praise they deserve.
For the record: They're not burglars, just gentlemen who can tackle tax math on the spot.
- Accidental Burglars Can't Find Cashier, Pay For Goods Anyway (VIDEO) (The Huffington Post)
- Polite Burglar Breaks into Wrong House, Offers to Fix Damage (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Police Find Burglar Locked in Storage Unit (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Burglar Busted After Leaving Pants, Cell Phone at 7-Eleven (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)