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A real true life allegory
By Curt_Anderson
January 22, 2023 11:09 am
Category: Opinion

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This situation actually happened to me last month.

I opened my front door to discover a package somewhat larger than a shoebox on our front porch. I picked it up to see who was sending us a Christmas gift or what my wife might have ordered. But lo and behold it was a package addressed to our neighbor. I don't know how long the package was there, as I don't only use my front door to exit our house; probably not more than a few days though. I don't know what was in the package. I didn't notice if it was delivered by mail or a delivery service. I called our neighbor, made sure she was home and walked the package over to her place. She thanked me and basically that's where this real life story ends.

In alternate realities I might have kept the package and argued that possession is nine tenths of the law. My neighbor might have realized her package didn't arrive and asked around if anybody had seen anything. I might have denied that I had it. I might have said that I was keeping it as a memento. My neighbor might have accused of me of stealing her stuff. The police might have become involved; I might have become recalcitrant and they might have searched my house for other "packages". The local media might have demanded to know why I don't immediately inform the public (this is my first admission) that I had been inadvertently holding something clearly marked with my neighbor's name and address. Some citizens might have demanded to know why I haven't been prosecuted for the "crime" of the possession (albeit temporary) of a package not intended for me.

One final confession. The package on our porch wasn't the first time something like that has happened. We've previously received mail and packages intended for other people. We don't keep any of them.

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Comments on "A real true life allegory":

  1. by islander on January 22, 2023 2:22 pm

    I’d think that after you found out that you were in possession of their property and the owners requested that you return it to them and you refused, you would be morally and probably legally required to give it back to them.

    Much like keeping stolen property even if at the time you acquired it you didn’t know it was stolen.


In Maine, the law says that a person is guilty of theft if the person obtains or exercises control over the property of another that the person knows to have been delivered under a mistake and the person fails to take reasonable measures to return it. Violation of this paragraph is a Class E crime.

    This does not apply when a merchant that sends “you” something you didn’t order and demands payment.

    It happened to me just two weeks ago when a package addressed to my neighbor was mistakenly dropped off at my house. This sometimes also happens with mail.

  2. by Curt_Anderson on January 22, 2023 2:52 pm
    You and I both had mistakenly and unknowingly obtained property not intended for us. We both did the right thing immediately upon realizing the error delivered it to the rightful owners. Biden found himself in a similar situation. It’s unlikely Biden delivered his “packages” himself to himself. In his case underlings delivered the documents to his house, office and garage. Unknowingly possessing your neighbors’ packages or classified documents is not a crime— as much as some people would like to claim that it is. Keeping them and refusing to return them is.

    Society is able to function because most people will do the right thing and return property to the rightful owners. Unfortunately, there are some people who have a sense of entitlement or otherwise feel that they have a right to keep property that is not theirs. Making matters worse there are apologist who excuse such behavior and create false equivalencies.

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