General Question

npassero's avatar

Is it illegal to steal something back that you own?

Asked by npassero (58points) September 16th, 2011

Say something got stolen from you, in this case a digital camera. If you end up finding out who took it (the rare chance that does happen) and the authorities cannot help in the matter, can you take the camera back?

Also, what if it has been resold to an unsuspecting person and then you approach them to get the camera back?

Please do not take this too seriously – it is all hypothetical and I’m just looking for a general knowledge answer.

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9 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

In any event, I would make a police report. This is to verify that the camera actually was stolen and hopefully you had a serial number for the missing camera.

I would not “steal” the camera back. Instead, call the police and let them handle this, according to the law.

By doing this, you protect yourself from any liability, like trespassing, to recover your property.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I wonder about that.I had some artwork in a cyber-cafe that went out of business unbeknownst to me.When I finally contacted the owner who had moved out of state,she told me she put an announcement in the paper rather than phoning anyone who had their work in there.They sold the work at auction.
Months later I was in another store and saw my work for sale there! I couldn’t believe it.
I talked to the owner of that store which did no good and I don’t think there is anything I could do.

npassero's avatar

@john65pennington Yes – the camera serial number is the key to ownership with digital cameras and that is in my possession.

blueiiznh's avatar

It may be illegal, but who is going to file a police report that a stollen good was stolen?

I had a past experience of my daughters bike being stolen from the yard. I filed a police report. A few months later, I saw her bike outside a store. I called the Police and kept the kid from taking off with it. The police arrived and took the bike into possession along with both of out information in order to validate it against my original report with serial number. The next day I was able to go get bike. The part that goes back to the OP is that I asked the officer once he arrived what would have happened had I just taken the bike back. He stated that it was not the best approach, but it was not as if the person was going to file a report on something that was originally stolen.

EB_631's avatar

That would be stupid for anyone to call the police on you..
Hey, 911? Yeah, I stole this ladies camera and then she came and stole it back! Somebody DO SOMETHING!!!

Brian1946's avatar

The act itself isn’t inherently illegal, but in some cases the act of retrieval can be illegal.

E.g., if you broke into the person’s residence to get your camera back, then they could file a police report about the burglary, and not mention the missing camera.

seekingwolf's avatar

I’d personally only do it (have done this before) if you’re in a dorm-like situation or something. That way, there is no tresspassing that can really be verified. I had a biotch steal my iPod. She left her doors unlocked. It was in a distinctive case. I walked right in and stole it back. She saw me using it a couple days later and she stopped talking to me because she was ashamed that I knew.

If the person lives in a house, no way. I’m calling the police. I don’t want to get charged with breaking and entering.

AshlynM's avatar

If you can prove the stolen item was yours in the first place, such as purchase receipt, then you probably won’t get in trouble.

dkwluvlaw's avatar

I would make a police report. Then i would ask the person who had it where they got the item at. If they say from so and so talk to that person and ask them why they would steal from you. Do you have proof that it is your camera. Remember possession is 9 tenths of the law.

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