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A Pennsylvania man frantically dialed 911 after someone at work allegedly stole his Jell-O from the work refrigerator.
The furious (and apparently famished) 39-year-old called the cops to report the theft of his beloved artificially flavored gelatinous snack.
But can the colleague actually face criminal charges for stealing the man's Strawberry-flavored Jell-O?
Even if it's Jell-O -- the lowest hanging (artificial) fruit of the snack tree -- lunch theft is theft.
When you take someone's property without permission with the intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently, that's an act of theft.
Most theft cases turn on the element of intent. A good-faith belief in ownership or permission is a complete defense to theft.
If the Pennsylvania man's workplace has a penchant for Jell-O, it's entirely possible that the thief mistook the gelatinous snack for his or her own. After all, strawberry is a popular Jell-O flavor and the scene of the crime was a shared refrigerator -- both factors that can lead to genuine ownership confusion.
But the Pennsylvania man may be able to prove intent if his name was scrawled on the Jell-O package or if it had some other unique identifier that made its ownership clear.
The penalty for theft in Pennsylvania varies depending on the amount or value of the property stolen. If the value is less than $50, the offense will be a summary offense. This is a less serious charge than a felony or misdemeanor.
But before you start eyeing your cubicle neighbor's pizza slices or give in to the allure of your coworker's string cheese, keep in mind that such theft will show up on criminal history checks.
A summary offense may entail a sentence of up to ninety days in jail and/or a fine of anywhere between $25 and $1,500 depending on the degree or severity of the summary offense.
As incredibly frustrating as lunch theft is, calling the cops to apprehend a lunch thief is kind of
awesome ridiculous. And yet, Pennsylvania's law enforcement said it would investigate the incident, according to The Smoking Gun.
Let's be honest, their resources are probably best spent elsewhere -- unless the stolen goods were MMMMonster Jigglers, that is.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.