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When does taking something by mistake become theft?

(73 Posts)
Mumto1plus2 Mon 29-Apr-13 16:48:39

My son's lunchbag went missing last week and still hasn't been returned. It's not in lost property and the teacher says she's looked for it to no avail. What conclusion can I draw other than someone else has taken it? It's been 5 days now. It has his name on it and an unusual bottle and lunchbox inside so difficult to confuse with another once opened. I've asked the PTA to send out an email but what more can I do? I am so cross. It's one thing for school clothes to get mixed up but this is the last straw. Of course, you can see the teacher's eyes roll as soon as you mention something like this... (sigh) hmm The thought that someone has kept it when they know it's not theirs really bothers me.

mymatemax Mon 29-Apr-13 18:06:35

Maybe the head should investigate, there could be ruthless criminals at work, I hear rumour of lost PE shorts in my sons class...maybe it is the same culprit. He/she must be held accountable! dinners will prevent any future similar criminal acts! They R evil them kids, pure evil!!

ExitPursuedByABear Mon 29-Apr-13 19:56:23

I have been knowingly unpleasant.

But seriously, it was a lunchbox, why are you getting so upset?

In the 8 years dd has been at school I ave lost count of the number of lunch boxes and Tupperware pots have gone missing.

And I am on the PTA and would laugh my socks off if someone asked me to send such an email.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 29-Apr-13 20:05:27

I once blew my top over a tin of spag bol.

I think that it's not unreasonable to be pissed off if you think that someone has got something that they must surely know is not theirs.

In my case, she knew it was mine and didn't understand why I went nuclear. she went and bought another tin and was baffled that I was still pissed off. It was something she did all the time and couldn't understand that I didn't give a shit about the tin itself, the actual item didn't matter, it was the fact that she thought it was ok to help herself to things that didn't belong to her.

So yes, it is just a lunchbox, not the hope diamond, but that's not the point. The OP truly thinks that someone has it, knows it isn't theirs and doesn't give a shit. I don't blame her for being pissed off. It really isn't about a bit of plastic. She can go out and buy another. It's not the item that's the point.

Yes, the lunchbox may be behind a radiator or under a table somewhere, but the thought that someone has something that they know doesn't belong to them is going to piss you off.

GwendolineMaryLacey Mon 29-Apr-13 20:10:07

Just for a change, I'm with Hecsy. I would be pissed off and I'm a bit surprised that this sort of thing is taken so lightly. It may only be a lunchbox but it's someone else's lunchbox.

ExitPursuedByABear Mon 29-Apr-13 21:00:22

But nobody will have it. It will be lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of the classroom.

Spero Mon 29-Apr-13 23:35:57

But someone hasn't helped themselves to something they 'know' isn't theirs! It's a lunchbox! It has either fallen off the trolley or a small child has taken it by mistake and some harassed parent has meant to return it but forgotten, or its rolled under the sofa or the dog ate it, etc, etc, etc.

If it was a scooter or a brand new jumper I could just, just about understand the angst.

But it's a lunchbox. To talk about its disapearance in terms of 'theft" is just bonkers and of that makes me a 'miserable mum' then so be it. Rather miserable than getting worked up to this degree and thinking such horrible things about other parents and children at my school.

QuintessentialOHara Mon 29-Apr-13 23:39:44

I knew it. The Lunch Box Mafia. <sigh>

Be careful, they return lunch boxes with knickers inside.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Tue 30-Apr-13 07:22:57

See to me, the actual item is irrelevant. For me there is no cut off point, no value beneath which it doesn't matter if someone keeps it. As I said, it may be behind a radiator or under a table somewhere. that's possible. It may come to light when the smell from the leftovers causes the school to be evacuated grin but the OP truly believes that someone has it, and that they know it's not theirs and that they haven't returned it.

She may well be wrong. But the thought that someone actually does have it and isn't giving it back for whatever reason is what's annoying to her (I think). And I can understand that. The thought that someone has something that isn't theirs and either took it on purpose, or care so little that they can't be arsed to return it because its only a lunch box and it doesn't matter, so they stick it in a drawer somewhere and think oh yeah, I must remember to return that. Some day.

The item itself, to me and I suspect to the OP, isn't even the point.

All I am saying is that (I think) I understand why the OP is pissed off - and it isn't because of the physical absence of a piece of plastic.

Spero Tue 30-Apr-13 08:04:28

I don't blame her for being pissed off. I would be pissed off. But I wouldn't be asking the PTA to send out emails about the THEFT of a lunch box.

The item does matter, insomuch I bet there are loads of the same lunchbox at school - 90% of my daughters year have the same Moshi monster one and mix ups are common - so it is more likely to be an innocent mistake than criminal act.

LIZS Tue 30-Apr-13 08:08:28

How old is eh ? I think , annoying though it is , you may need to save your frustrations for the bigger issues which will inevitably occur later on . Maybe someone has one similar and picked it buy mistake. Possibly languishing in someone's car boot. Personally I wouldn't go any further than asking for it to be mentioned in next class email/newsletter rather than have a specific note sent by PTA.

freddiemisagreatshag Tue 30-Apr-13 08:08:34

I don't think she knows for certain X has taken it though does she Hec?

Spero Tue 30-Apr-13 08:12:54

If you get this wound up about a missing lunchbox, I have some bad news about the rest of childhood...

colditz Tue 30-Apr-13 08:15:10

This child has to be in Reception....

Children lose things all the time. Replace it and let it go. Stop badgering the teacher, they have better things to do.

SavoyCabbage Tue 30-Apr-13 08:27:54

Some people's lives are different from how yours may be. It could be at their dad's and they live with their mum, or at grandmas or in the boot of the childminders car. These scenarios are more likely than the intentional theft of a used lunchbox and it is these scenarios that come to my mind when I heard your plight.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Tue 30-Apr-13 11:04:11

Well, no, nor would I, Spero, but I can understand being pissed off enough to be thinking about it grin I had murder fantasies about the spag bol wink

No, she doesn't, freddie, and as I said, it's possible that it's fallen down the back of somewhere, but it's just the thought that someone has it that is - imo - what is pissing her off.

I am sure we've all been totally hacked off over stuff that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn't matter. Or pissed off because of the principle of something not the specifics of it.

I bet when she's had a bit of time to come down off the ceiling, she'll get over it, as we all do. She'll buy a new one and forget about it.

I can just relate to being thoroughly pissed off over what others see as trivia, because I have put a different and to me far more important emphasis on it. If that makes any sense.

And I feel a bit sorry for her that she's had her arse handed to her.

Spero Tue 30-Apr-13 11:11:06

Who has been horrible to op? She got a light tap on the arse, that's all. No one has told her to fuck the fuck off and how dare she raise this issue when there are children starving etc.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Tue 30-Apr-13 11:19:33

I feel sorry for her, that's all. <shrug> she clearly feels bad because she's done the whole you're mean I'm off thing (although not the I feel sorry for your kids bit grin), which people tend to do when they feel attacked.

I just feel sorry for her. I think that she's made a mistake taking it so far, and I think she's gone huffy on here but I just feel, well, I've been there. I've done the whole stompety stomp over stuff and you feel bad when you do it.

TeamEdward Tue 30-Apr-13 11:24:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RooneyMara Tue 30-Apr-13 11:24:18

Can I hijack slightly as the OP has left the building? <waves...>

My friend bought a PTA tea towel yesterday. Except she was given two by mistake. She realised this when she came out of school.

And gave one to me. In fact sold one to me as she owed someone £2, which I gave her.

I feel a bit guilty now. Should I go back and pay for the extra tea towel? Or get my friend in a headlock and make her go back and pay for it? Or should I kill her?

FlumpsRule Tue 30-Apr-13 11:43:27

YANBU. New stuff often goes 'missing' in school - especially at the start of new terms.. If things don't turn up in lost property after a week or two, I'm inclined to think children/parents have decided 'finders keepers', which is... theft.. when property could be put into lost property or returned to nameholder. Cost of item is irrelevant.
IMO an occasional email reminding parents to check for mistakes is not unreasonable. Unfortunately it's probably just a part of life though.

ExitPursuedByABear Tue 30-Apr-13 12:14:47

A PTA tea towel? Have they drawn pictures of themselves?

You should definitely give them the money, and kill your friend to be on the safe side.

Spero Tue 30-Apr-13 13:32:02

For it to be theft a jury would have to decide there was dishonesty. I would not convict anyone of theft for failing to return a lunchbox. God knows what is lurking in my kitchen cupboards.

Op got huffy after about two posts. Another example of her balanced and emotionally healthy approach to life and not the fault or problem of anyone here.

RooneyMara Tue 30-Apr-13 14:28:53

Yes Exit. How did you guess?

The pictures are awful I have to say. They couldn't remember doing them - my 9yo finally realised they'd been given a teeny piece of paper each and told to draw on it, months ago.

ExitPursuedByABear Tue 30-Apr-13 14:43:06

When DD's prep school did one I bought 12 blush. I imagined I would give them to relatives for Christmas. School thought I was mad. We still have 11 of them.

LtEveDallas Tue 30-Apr-13 14:59:02

I feel for the OP too, and don't think she deserved the ragging she got.

I agree with Hec the thought that someone actually does have it and isn't giving it back for whatever reason is what's annoying to her (I think). And I can understand that

I can too. DD has had something stolen from school. There is no denying it, it cannot have been taken by accident, and it is obvious that it belongs to her.

The school are also shrugging their shoulders and rolling their eyes, but in the meantime DD is missing something that was hers and has been taught that stealing isn't being punished.

I'm pissed off, and I can well understand how OP feels. It's shite and minimising it teaches a bad lesson to the remaining kids.

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