Justice, Injustice, or another Day in America

By Gary McCullors

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Have you ever walked into a store just as you were leaving?  Bought Dinner twice on the same day, at different restaurants?  Visited that one place your spouse said you had better not be caught dead in, or you will wind up dead?  Seem to be spending more money than you thought?  Any of these things sound familiar?  I can’t vouch for the “one place,” but the others happened to my niece last year.  She was blissfully going about her business one day last year when she went to get some money out of an ATM.  The ATM blissfully reported that she didn’t have any money.  She immediately called and blasted her husband wanting to know what he had spent all the money on.  He of course denied spending it which generated a few rounds of, “Yes, you did,” “No, I didn’t,” and “You are lying.”  She reluctantly accepted that he may not have spent it, maybe.

With the gently probing for a confession out of the way, my niece headed off to the bank to see just what the scoundrel spent the money on.  She was a little surprised to find that he was eating a lot more, buying some things that hadn’t made it home, and staying in a motel.  That last one generated another round of, “Yes, you did,” “No, I didn’t,” and “You are lying.”  After reviewing all the charges, they decided that someone else may be using their debit card.  They were able to narrow the potential theft of their card information down to the evening they had stopped off at their favorite fast-food restaurant (the chain made national news not too long ago for stealing customers’ card information).

With this piece of detective work done, my niece headed to the local sheriff’s office (not in Alabama) to file a complaint.  The deputy wrote down all the information and placed the complaint in a file.  My niece asked what was next and was surprised when the deputy told her there was no next.  He explained that there wasn’t anything else they could do unless the person was caught.  She was not amused.  She told him how the police did it on TV and usually had the person caught within an hour.  Now, the deputy was not amused.  He thanked her for that bit of information and sent her on her way.

My niece was not going to let this go.  She got a detailed list of transactions and headed out to talk with the merchants to see if anyone could help her find the thief.  The one restaurant said they remembered a lady using that name and card number on a pickup order because she said she didn’t have the card with her and if they would go ahead and process it, she would give them a big tip.  Another restaurant said they also remembered a lady using that card and name for a delivery because she didn’t have a pen and had to sign the ticket with an eyebrow pencil.  They also said the delivery was to a local motel.

The motel clerk verified that my niece’s card had been used to pay for one of their rooms and told her the room was still occupied by a man and a woman.  She notified the sheriff’s office where the people using her debit card where and if they hurried they could catch them in the room.

The couple were arrested that day.  The man was charged, went to court, and was offered jail time or military service; he opted for military service.  The woman did not spend one night in jail or go to court; her family had money and used it to keep their little girl out of jail.

Sadly, there are a few things wrong with this whole situation.  First, the only way to have avoided this theft was to pay in cash, thus nullifying the convenience of having a check/debit card; second, the sheriff’s office didn’t offer to do anything except take a complaint; third, the man was passed off to the military for them to deal with; and lastly, the woman never faced justice.  That last one is really messed up.  The woman was the one using the card and never had to answer for the crime.  Oh yeah, another thing really messed up was my niece not believing her husband.  All husbands should be believed, all the time!  Husbands are so solid you could build a house on us!  My wife has her own opinion of what kind of house, but decency prohibits me from tell you what kind.

So, was this justice, injustice, or just another day in America?  I have my opinion (my wife gave it to me), but it is just my opinion.