The Current Situation

Lost Camera, Bad Samaritans

“Why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel, /
When the right people stay back home?”
— Noel Coward

[via Boing Boing] An American who lost her camera in Hawaii thought that she’d been dealt a lucky break: a park ranger phone her to let her know that a Canadian family had found her camera and gave her their contact information. However, things started going downhill as soon as she’d phoned them:

“Hello,” I said, when I reached the woman who had reported the camera found, “I got your number from the park ranger, it seems you have my camera?”

We discussed the specifics of the camera, the brown

pouch it was in, the spare battery and memory card, the yellow

rubberband around the camera. It was clear it was my camera, and I was thrilled.

“Well,” she said, “we have a bit of a situation. You see, my nine year old son found your camera, and we wanted to show him

to do the right thing, so we called, but now he’s been using it for a week and he really loves it and we can’t bear to take it from him.”

I listened, not sure where she was going with this.

“And he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he’s now convinced he has bad luck, and finding the camera was good luck, and so we can’t tell him that he has to give it up. Also we had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card.”

It started to dawn on me that she had no intention of returning the camera.

“We’d be happy to return your photographs…”

I was incredulous. “This is an expensive camera, you know.”

“Oh, we know, we looked it up.”

They browbeat her into a bad deal: they’ll send back the memory cards and $50.

When the package arrived, it turned out to be just CDs with an attached note: “Enclosed are some CDs with your images on them. We need the memory cards to operate the camera properly.”

More phone calls ensue, with the Canadians defending themselves by saying “You’re lucky we sent you anything at all. Most people wouldn’t do that.”

Attempts to call the police in the family’s town are fruitless, as the crime took place outside their jurisdiction.

This is low. It’s theft, plain and simple. It sets a bad example for the kid who found the camera. It tarnishes the good reputation that Canadians travelling abroad have earned. The diabetes excuse is lame; my dad lost his leg to the disease, and he’s not out robbing tourists.

What recourse does she have? Many have suggested publicizing the Canadian family’s contact information, which I would consider as a “nuclear option”. Is there something less privacy-invading that she can try first, such as the suggestion that she contact a paper in the family’s town with her story while concealing the family’s identity, as a means of pressuring them into returning the camera? Could she file a report with the police in Hawaii? Or a civil suit in Canada? Please comment away…

7 replies on “Lost Camera, Bad Samaritans”

I’ve seen friends spend years — YEARS — resolving a simple dispute via a civil suit. In the end they won, but if time was money, they lost thousands in the process. The “nuclear option” may not seem like the proper thing to do, but would you say its worse then taking someone’s property and refusing to give it back?

Pressure them into returning the camera? Face it, they’re not going to return the camera. They’ve made that abundantly clear. They’ve also made it clear that (1) they’re admitted theives and (2) they don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they did. I can’t imagine why anyone would feel obliged to “protect their privacy.” The victim knows the thieves’ names and where they live. In my opinion she — and you, and anyone else — should blog away with impunity.

I’m crossing my fingers that these thieving Canadians are no one I know, but even if they were my best friends or my relatives, I would feel the same way. They have forfeited their right to be treated fairly.

what a brutal story. I say blog away. It is a prefect human interest story for the newspapers.

I say expose these scum! Post their names and address on every blog in creation and let them suffer the wrath decent minded but vengefully inclined folks everywhere!

IANACLNDIPOOTV (I Am Not A Canadian Lawyer Nor Do I Play One On TV),

but isn’t this plain and simple theft?

Call the police in their jurisdiction and have them arrested

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