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Just Lemme At The Camera-Thieving Scumbags
Via BoingBoing, a woman loses her camera in Hawaii. Happy ending -- for a moment -- the camera is found. The problem is, the kid who's been using it has become attached to it, his mommy says, and won't be giving it up. Here's the woman's post:

I got a call from an excited park ranger in Hawaii that "a nice Canadian couple reported that they found your camera!" She gave me their name and number, and I eagerly called to reclaim my camera.

"Hello," I said, when I reached the woman who had reported the camera found, "I got your number from the park ranger, it seems you have my camera?"

We discussed the specifics of the camera, the brown pouch it was in, the spare battery and memory card, the yellow rubberband around the camera. It was clear it was my camera, and I was thrilled.

"Well," she said, "we have a bit of a situation. You see, my nine year old son found your camera, and we wanted to show him to do the right thing, so we called, but now he's been using it for a week and he really loves it and we can't bear to take it from him."

I listened, not sure where she was going with this.

"And he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he's now convinced he has bad luck, and finding the camera was good luck, and so we can't tell him that he has to give it up. Also we had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card."

It started to dawn on me that she had no intention of returning the camera.

"We'd be happy to return your photographs..."

I was incredulous. "This is an expensive camera, you know."

"Oh, we know, we looked it up."

"I was hoping to offer a reward for it, but I was also hoping to get my camera back."

Silence. It is now clear I will never see the camera again. I'm shocked at what seems like an utter moral failure on her part, despite her claim to want to "do the right thing."

"Ok," I say. "Why don't you send me my memory cards, and, say, $50 and we'll call it even."

I give her my address.

I don't hear from her for nearly two weeks. Friends suggest filing a police report.

Finally, I get a package in the mail.

"Enclosed are some CDs with your images on them. We need the memory cards to operate the camera properly."

I call, furious. "I was shocked to get your package today. Our agreement was that you were to send me my memory cards, not that you would keep an additional $120 worth of my property on top of the valuable camera you already chose not to return."

"You're lucky we sent you anything at all. Most people wouldn't do that." We go back and forth a bit more. She eventually hangs up on me. I call the police department in her town (in Canada) but they tell me that it's a U.S. issue, since that's where the property was lost.

I am out $500 and some measure of faith in humanity.

I do, however, have the photos. Thanks again to the Flickr community for loaning me yours in the interim.

There are hundreds of comments on the blog item, most of them supportive. Then there are a few assclowns who post stuff like this:

You know, bad things happen to good people all the time but why the internet community has to rally over the loss of one person's 600 dollars is beyond me.

My response to this commenter, which I posted in her comments section:

Why? Because people do this because they feel they can get away with it. Every action like this one makes it less likely this will happen again. You can't make unethical people ethical, but you can make them fear social opprobrium for behaving unethically and thus cause them to keep their natural scumbagginess in check.

I just want their names and phone number. I'll make the first call to tell them what pigs they are. Moreover, according to your description of them, they're clearly unfit parents, and should have their child taken from them and placed in foster care.

Posted by aalkon at February 21, 2006 11:23 AM

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I'm usually against organized harassment, but if EVER there were an occasion to engage in it, this is it.

Count me in.

Fucking lowlifes.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 21, 2006 7:04 AM

There will be karma as this child grows up.

Posted by: eric at February 21, 2006 8:06 AM

IS there a paper in these fabulous folks' home town? If a letter to the editor won't do it, a paid ad. might. What absolute scum.

Posted by: KateCoe at February 21, 2006 8:46 AM

They are totally screwing up that kid. He's nine years old, for crying out loud, and they are treating him like a baby. He's definitely got bigger problems than diabetes - his parents seem determined to turn him into a complete pantywaist and it will probably work.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 21, 2006 8:56 AM

Hey, I'll join in the party. Post the number. I'll be their worst nightmare!

Posted by: Patrick at February 21, 2006 11:04 AM

I will also eagerly await the post of the number.

The mother and child remind me of a mother and daughter with whom I spent a year in close quarters in Australia. As much as that kid got away with with her crazy mom, her schoolmates were much less forgiving. (They beat the crap out of her daily.) I met her again when we were both in our early teens, and found that she had become stunted, timid, and mousy.

eric is right: There will be karma, and it will be cumulative.

Posted by: That Julia at February 21, 2006 12:32 PM

TJ, I feel sorry for kids like that. They are terribly annoying, but I feel sorry for them because their parents don't teach them anything. They don't learn any social skills from their parents, so other kids don't want to be around them, so they don't learn social skills from other kids, either. It is a vicious cycle, unless the kid manages to figure it out for him or herself.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 21, 2006 12:42 PM

Can't imagine being more cynical than you are, but I'd be surprised if there was a kid, and if by any chance there was, that he was sick.

The people are common thieves. Canadian common thieves. I'd sic the Mounties on their ass* -- or at least their local newspaper.

* they're just trying to pass the work on. Explain the PR aspects of the theft and the RCMP's failure to deal with it.

Posted by: Todd Everett at February 21, 2006 3:24 PM

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