Felony Theft after Returning Found Property

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

Felony Theft

Photo by: OiMax

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

Photo by: Nate Grigg

Photo by: Nate Grigg

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.

Felony theft

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?

Photo by: Ms. Phoenix

Photo by: Ms. Phoenix

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.

Utah Adoption Agency Stole Funds from Hopeful Families

The owner of a Utah adoption agency out of American fork has been arrested after he stole funds from hopeful families looking to adopt.

Adoption fees

Photo by: Bridget Coila

Photo by: Bridget Coila

James Charles Webb was arrested earlier this month after four families eager to adopt newborns claimed he stole funds from by accepting over $100,000 and promised them he would help them adopt babies. Webb, the owner of Adoption Center of Choice in American Fork Utah, accepted the hefty payments from the families; however he was operating on a revoked business license. Webb’s business license was put on suspension, and later revoked while he was instructed to not obtain any new clients.

Theft by deception

Disregarding instructions to refrain from carrying out adoptions, Webb accepted the four families’ payments, promising them they would be holding their new babies soon. After many excuses as to why the adoptions were not happening, the families realized Webb didn’t have a business license anymore and told authorities he stole funds from them through deception. Theft by deception is defined by Utah Code 76-6-405 as when “A person commits theft if the person obtains or exercises control over property of another person: by deception; and with a purpose to deprive the other person of property.”

Stole funds or operated without a valid license?

Stole funds

Photo by: Miran Rijavec

Webb is facing four second degree felonies for theft by deception along with third degree felonies related to tax evasion. Before he is sentenced to years behind bars, it is important to know if he stole the funds and planned on deceiving the families or merely operated without a valid license. Was he actively trying to find newborns for the families to adopt or did he not make any attempts at all to find birth mothers willing to adopt? Did he have “a purpose to deprive” the families of money? Anyone who is facing criminal charges, whether or not there was criminal intent, are encouraged to seek counsel from a criminal defense attorney.

Copper Theft in Utah

Gold or silver jewelry are common items of theft in Utah, but so are pipes, cables, and wires made of copper.

From hobby to crime

Photo by: Sam-Cat

Photo by: Sam-Cat

Beyond the precious metals used for jewelry, other metals such as copper also have a high value. As people became aware of this, they began searching for copper to turn around and sell for profit. Rummaging through trash cans and salvage yards, stripping wires hoping to reveal copper wiring turned into a time consuming yet financially rewarding hobby for many people. Unfortunately, many individuals were so desperate for cash they began stripping wires that were still being used.

Supply and demand

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, repairs and replacements from copper theft costs the U.S. nearly a billion dollars a year. Copper theft has been an ongoing problem for over a decade, with the instances of copper theft rising and falling right along with the price of raw copper. The higher the price for copper, the more thefts tend to accompany. Although there was a definite decrease in instances of copper theft after the drop in copper prices in 2009, copper theft remains a problem today.

More than just theft

The FBI issued a report on copper thefts claiming “copper thieves are threatening US critical infrastructure by targeting electrical sub-stations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits. The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services and presents a risk to both public safety and national security.” Utah is well aware of these infrastructure threats. Back in 2006, over 6 miles of copper was pulled from the ground going to light poles along I-15 in Salt Lake City. As the lights went out, so did half a million dollars of copper wiring.

Illegal and dangerous

Photo by:  Frédéric BISSON

Photo by:
Frédéric BISSON

Copper theft could land the thief with jail time from charges such as theft, burglary, criminal mischief. More serious to criminal charges is the threat to their life. Taking wires that are connected to electrical equipment is extremely dangerous, and if an electrical shock doesn’t kill the person touching the live wires, it will do some irreparable damage. The risk of criminal charges and injury isn’t worth the price of copper. Leave it connected.