A Draper, Utah man was arrested for felony theft after returning some property that he found in the middle of the road.
Debris from unsecured load
47 year old Kent Spencer Dean was driving down 12300 South in Draper when he noticed a large power saw lying in the roadway. Not wanting an accident to result from the large item in the road, he quickly picked up the saw and placed it in the trunk of his car. Dean planned on finding the owner of the saw and returning it but first had to hurry to prior engagements he had including attending his daughter’s dance recital and a play with his family in Ogden.
Punishing a caring citizen
The 50 pound power saw that Dean had picked up belonged to the fire department and had fallen off an engine just moments before Dean noticed it in the road. Witnesses saw the event unfold and took down Dean’s license plate number for police. As Dean was going about his busy evening he received a phone call from the Draper Police Department inquiring about the saw. After stating what had happened while learning who the saw belonged to, Dean made arrangements to return the saw to the fire department later that evening. When he arrived, the fire department thanked him while the police department arrested him for felony theft of lost property.
Theft of lost property
The Draper Police Department was made aware of the circumstances surrounding Kent Dean’s temporary possession of the fire department’s saw and his plan of returning the lost item, however they were unwilling to drop the charges for felony theft of lost property. According to Utah Code 76-6-407, “A person commits theft [of lost property] when:
(1) He obtains property of another which he knows to have been lost or mislaid, or to have been
delivered under a mistake as to the identity of the recipient or as to the nature or amount of the
property, without taking reasonable measures to return it to the owner; and
(2) He has the purpose to deprive the owner of the property when he obtains the property or at any
time prior to taking the measures designated in paragraph (1).” (Emphasis added)
Sadly, it seems the Draper police assumed Dean intended on keeping the heavy, bulky saw; perhaps in the event that he one day might need to remove the roof off a vehicle.
While being accused with theft was bad enough, the charge was unfortunately increased to felony theft due to the high monetary value of the fire department’s saw. Utah Code 76-6-412 states that “Theft of property and services as provided in this chapter is punishable ( . . . ) as a third degree felony if: the value of the property or services is or exceeds $1,500 but is less than $5,000;” The saw was valued at around $2,000. For trying to be a good citizen by removing a large item from the roadway that had a high chance of causing an accident, Dean could face up to five years in prison as well as a $5,000 fine.
Ignore or Act?
Kent Dean could have avoided felony theft charges had he chosen to leave the power saw in the road, blocking a lane of traffic on a busy street. Instead he chose to protect other drivers from a hazardous situation, which in turn may have also prevented the fire department from facing their own charges of having an unsecured load, a class C misdemeanor. Hopefully the criminal charged brought against Kent Dean will not dissuade another citizen from making the right choice if the event that they are ever faced with a similar situation.