Police say man agrees to bargain down his price to return the phone he stole, gets arrested

Transit Police report arresting a Hyde Park man they say stole a woman's at the Harvard Square Red Line stop, then agreed to return it to her for $120 without thinking she might also have contacted the police.

According to police, the woman left her phone in the unisex restroom at Harvard Square yesterday. When she returned to look for it, it was gone. Using a friend's phone, she called her number and got no answer - but soon after got a text saying she could have her phone back for $200, police say.

The victim called her number again this time the phone was answered by a male. The victim and the unknown male negotiated a price of 120.00 for the return of the phone and the victim was given instructions on where to make the exchange.

Police continue:

Transit Police officers responded to the area where the victim was advised to make the exchange and observed the victim and [the suspect], later identified as Roggers Etienne, 23, of Hyde Park conversing. As soon as Etienne noticed the police officers he fled, at this time the victim yelled to the officers Etienne was indeed the male she spoke with and negotiated a price to return her phone. After a lengthy foot chase officers apprehended Etienne on Bow Street near Linden Street in Cambridge.

Officers then arrested him on a charge of receiving stolen property, police say.

Innocent, etc.





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Really? If he found it there then it isnt really stealing... You know the saying finders keepers? Yeah but since he's black you have to say he "stole" it like it was snatched out of her hands or something. Should've never been stupid and left it there in the first place dummy.


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I was worried we'd go more than 10 minutes without someone victim-blaming.

You are right

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She shouldn't have made a mistake. He took the found phone. If he had kept it and ignored her call, you might even have a point in that he could keep it because he found it.

But he didn't. He texted her a ransom. He met with her intending to sell her a phone he knowingly kept from her after finding out she had lost it. He broke the finders keepers. Nanny nanny boo boo. Stick your head in doo doo.


"Really? If he found it there then it isn't really stealing..."

My definition of "stealing" is "knowingly taking property that isn't yours." What's yours?

I take it you're arguing that taking a car that someone else has just left by the side of the road, is not stealing?

Or that taking luggage someone else has just left on the sidewalk while stopping to fish bus fare out of one's pocket, is not stealing?

Yes, stole

Not his. Obviously belonged to someone else -- someone he could easily identify. Keeping it, let alone holding it for ransom, is theft.

I once found a Blackberry on the sand bar at Bar Harbor. If I had not picked it up, it would have been drowned in salt water when the tide came in. Did I keep it? No. Did I send a text demanding a fee for returning it? No. I called the last number in the call history and told that person that I was leaving the phone at the hotel desk, and the owner could pick it up there. I did that because I'm not a thief.

Your Parents

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They must be super proud of you ... when not trying to figure out what you stole from them this time.

I have found cell phones,

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I have found cell phones, once digging one out of the sand on a beach where the owner never would have recovered it. I made a superhuman effort to find the owner and return it (and that never included ransoming it or asking for any kind of reward.) Conversely, when I left my iPhone in a cab once and the cab driver drove it back to me and waved off my efforts to pay him for his time, I was enormously grateful. That's how decent people behave.

Unless you pick up something under the mistaken impression that it belongs to you, it's stealing. The correct response is to leave it alone, return it to the owner, or hand it in to the police.

Hmmm, not my religion, so I

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Hmmm, not my religion, so I don't know what that means. I just ended up spending a lot of time tracking down the owner and arranging to meet them. We were at a beach-town, and they were leaving that day, so it turned out well for them that they were able to retrieve the phone when they did.

That doesn't count? Sweet!

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That doesn't count? Sweet! That's a relief. I look forward to "finding" your car.

I didn't notice

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that the race of the thief was mentioned. I wonder how you know he or she is black. Also, Etienne sounds more like a woman's name than a man's. How do you know their gender? It's too bad you don't feel able to argue this case on its merits, but instead are trying to silence the discussion by calling everyone a racist.


French for "Stephen", a man's name, but in this case it's the last name anyway, first name looks masculine, and police report id's him as male.

Hat tip to officer Scott W.

Who, some years ago, told me this:

"In spite of the end of the Space Shuttle program, and the resulting cutbacks at NASA, it turns out that very few actual rocket scientists are working as low-level criminals."

Theft or extortion?

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Theft is taking property of another with intent to permanently deprive, extortion is to compel a behavior through illegal means (unlawfully depriving one of their property, perhaps?) Either way, Mom always said, "If it's not yours, don't touch it."

I'd take it

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And then give it back when the owner called. I know I wouldn't keep it like others would.

I've found a number of expensive phones over the years, surprisingly. They've all been returned for free, though a few people have offered an unsolicited "tip".

Receiving stolen property is a coverall, not theft or stealing

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During the stolen car craze of the 70's, 80's and early 90's, a lot of "larceny of a motor vehicle" cases were dropped because it was difficult to prove the driver was the actual person who stole the car. Same as this phone. "Receiving stolen property" carries the same sentence, is easier to prove and only requires someone to be in possession of something reported stolen, whether or not they are the person who stole it. I agree that extortion should be considered in these cases too.

Left my phone in a Lyft this weekend

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Fortunately the driver was raised right (unlike the first commenter here) and he answered when I call the phone, agreed to call me back once he was during with the current fare he had, and had the phone back to me within the hour. Got himself a nice tip and I sent praise about him to Lyft.

It pays to be a good guy!

Lost or Stolen property on the MBTA

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She reported the phone lost not stolen so how can he be arrested for receiving stolen property? Remember the story of the lost violin at South station and the manhunt for the woman who was accused of stealing the violin. I was told by a friend who works for the MBTA that poor lady was seen on film turning the violin to a transportation official who forgot to turn the lost violin into lost and found.


She reported the phone lost not stolen so how can he be arrested for receiving stolen property?

It was lost when she left it on the sink. It was stolen when someone who did not own it took possession of it with personal gain in mind.

Finders Keepers

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"Finders keepers" applies when you spot a dime on the ground, not when you find a $700 phone. That some people are unable to understand the nuances of different situations is mind-boggling.