Vandals Self-Incriminate Themselves through Social Media

Two vandals were arrested after they self-incriminated themselves through a social media post.

Bragging leads to arrest

Photo by Ryan Adams

23 year old Kevin Hayes and 20 year old Thomas Anderson were arrested after someone saw a Snapchat video by Hayes showing the two individuals inside a Spanish Fork church building that had been recently broken into and vandalized. In the video the two could be heard bragging about what they had done, thus self-incriminating themselves. The person viewing the snap video saved it and alerted authorities. The duo was arrested for vandalism related charges.

Vandalism

The two young men were each charged with burglary for breaking into the LDS church as well as criminal mischief for the vandalism that took place once they gained access to the building. Utah Code 76-6-106 states: “A person commits criminal mischief if the person . . . intentionally damages, defaces, or destroys the property of another.” The penalties for vandalism depend on the value of the property that is damaged. Utah Code 76-6-106 goes on to explain . . . violation of this section is a:

(i) Second degree felony if the actor’s conduct causes or is intended to cause pecuniary loss equal to or in excess of $5,000 in value;

(ii) Third degree felony if the . . . pecuniary loss [is]equal to or in excess of $1,500 but is less than $5,000 in value;

(iii) Class A misdemeanor if the . . . pecuniary loss [is] equal to or in excess of $500 but is less than $1,500 in value; and

(iv) Class B misdemeanor if the . . . pecuniary loss [is] less than $500 in value.”

Authorities estimate Hayes and Anderson caused around $10,000 in damage, increasing both of their criminal mischief charges to the max penalty of second degree felonies carrying a possible prison term of one to 15 years in prison plus a $10,000 fine.

Vacationers Urged to Use Caution When House Swapping

House swapping is increasing in popularity among vacationers throughout Utah and the world yet homeowners are being urged to use caution before listing their home on a home exchange website.

Pros and cons of a hotel stay

Photo by: Hamzu Butt

Part of a good vacation is staying someplace in an upscale part of town that is clean and preferably inexpensive. When it comes to hotels, the clean and centrally located ones are usually priced accordingly and the cheaper rooms can often be filthy or in a questionable neighborhood. Those who are wanting a vacation away from home have another option to look forward to known as house swapping.

House swapping

Photo by: Mary Greathead

House swapping takes place when a person or family temporarily trades homes with another through one of the various online companies such as Airbnb, HomeExchange, and LoveHomeSwap. House swapping can occur with primary homes and apartments as well as second homes or cabins. The individual lists their home with pictures, location, price, and availability while also browsing homes in their chosen vacation destination. Once they have found temporary “renters” as well as a place to stay on their vacation, the swap is complete and the escape from ordinary life begins.

Not as glamorous as it seems

While movies in Hollywood have portrayed house swapping as a magical experience that may even end in unexpected romance, real-life house swapping doesn’t always have a happy ending. Some horror stories from house swapping including problems with the vacation home, such as:

Photo by: Abril Rubio

• Booking a dump. A picture says a thousand words but can also leave out a lot of detail if things are staged just right. Many house swappers arrive to find their temporary abode not up to par. Incidents have occurred that include leaking roofs, missing furniture, bug infestations, and even utilities being shut off. Most of the complaints however include dissatisfaction on the cleanliness of the swapped house. This is common as most families do not have a personal maid to ensure the home is hotel clean.

• Pets. House swapping really means life swapping. This includes beds, toys, food, vehicles, and even the family dog.

Photo by: Tristan Ferne

It is encouraged to research a vacation home fully and be informed on whether or not there are pets in the home and what type of care they need. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if Fido needs to be walked daily and loves snuggling any human in existence.

• Change of plans. Unfortunately, sometimes plans change suddenly which can include not having the vacation home available during the scheduled dates. While this doesn’t occur on a regular basis, it is something that should be planned for just in case.

Trouble at home

Other problems that can arise with house swapping take place on the home front. Issues that have been reported include:

Photo by: Antti T. Nissinen

• Vandalism. Not all house swappers take care of their vacation home. Some swappers may leave things messy while others may leave items broken and needing repair. There is always a risk of a bad renter, which is why it is important to get to know the other house swapper in advance and read their prior reviews carefully.

• Insurance coverage. Before making the swap, ensure that you and your guests are covered. This includes vehicle coverage as well as home owners or rental insurance. House swapping may not be covered so it is vital to find out for sure before making the trade.

Photo by: Quinn Dombrowski

Prostitution. What does a pimp love more than a cheap hotel to work his girls out of? A cheaper home that isn’t monitored by hotel employees or authorities. This may seem like a rarity but in fact it has been reported several times nationwide. Someone in the sexual solicitation business poses as a prospective house swapper and with a little bit of acting, sells a family on letting the “nice couple” rent the house for a week or more. For the entirety of the swap, the family home has a revolving door to the coming and goings of random “Johns”, and the family is left feeling violated and uncomfortable returning to their own home.

Not for everyone

House swapping is not for everyone but for those who wish to give it a try, there are always risks involved. Home exchange companies encourage clients to get to know the other families and do plenty of research prior to a swap. If criminal activity such as prostitution or drugs takes place in a home while the owners are vacationing elsewhere, it is wise for them to inquire with an attorney upon their return about any possible legal backlash of the house swapping gone wrong.

Man Sought for Security Camera Vandalism in Salt Lake City

video camera vandalism

Photo: Leon Brooks/Wikimedia Commons

In a random act of vandalism, a man destroyed a security camera in a parking garage. The Salt Lake City Police Department is hoping the public will be able to help identify the man.

Take THAT, Stupid Security Camera

According to a report from KSL News, the vandalism occurred on Saturday, Nov. 8, when a man entered the parking garage of the Salt Palace Convention Center. Apparently practicing for when he’s rich and famous and has to fend off the paparazzi—or outright assault them, like celebrities Alec Baldwin or Sam Worthington—the man punched a security camera off the wall, then proceeded to pick it up and throw it to the ground.

Even though police don’t know his identity, they know what the suspect looks like. Before being assaulted, the video camera was able to grab an image of him. He is described as being white, approximately six-feet tall and 200 pounds. Police are guessing his age to be in his twenties.

At Least it was just Vandalism

When the man is caught, he will be lucky not to be Alec Baldwin or Sam Worthington. Well, at least as far as criminal charges are concerned. The vandalism charges in this case would most likely be less than assault charges.

According to Utah Code 76-6-106, vandalism is considered “criminal mischief.” Vandalism ranges from a class B misdemeanor, resulting in up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, up to a second degree felony, resulting in up to fifteen years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. The different levels are based on the following criteria:

  • if the vandalism occurred to “critical infrastructure” such as information, transportation, banking or public utilities
  • if it is insurance fraud
  • if it endangered life
  • the value of the property

For example, a second degree felony results when a person “recklessly causes or threatens a substantial interruption or impairment of any critical infrastructure” or if the property damaged is over $5,000 in value. The lowest conviction, the class B misdemeanor, results when someone’s actions endanger human health or safety (but not life) or if the property is less than $500 in value.

Vandalism, or criminal mischief, has a wide range of interpretation and potential subsequent punishments. If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal mischief, make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.