Mom Has Son Arrested for Stealing Her Pop-Tarts

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That headline could just as easily have been something like: "Police Arrest Boy for Stealing Mom's Pop-Tarts"—it just depends whose stupidity you want to highlight, and this is really a toss-up.

Pop-Tart reportFew details are available, mainly because everybody involved was too embarrassed to talk to NBC's Charlotte affiliate about the matter. But according to WCNC's report, a woman in Charlotte did indeed call the police on Monday to report that her son had stolen her Pop-Tarts, and real police officers did indeed show up and arrest the boy for larceny. (They filed a police report and everything, one apparently meant for vehicles and on which they did not correctly spell either the make or model of the stolen item.)

Under North Carolina law, larceny is a felony if the value of the stolen goods is more than $1,000, but otherwise it's a Class 1 misdemeanor. N.C. Stat. § 14-72. Here, the value of the goods was not reported; however, a box of 16 Pop-Tarts can be had from Walmart for about $3.50, which works out to about 22 cents per tart. Assuming the boy took fewer than 4,545 Pop-Tarts, this would be misdemeanor larceny.

larceny "from the person" is a felony without regard to the value of the property in question. N.C. Stat. § 14-72(b)(1). Larceny is considered "from the person" if the property is "in the immediate presence of and under the protection or control of the victim at the time the property is taken." State v. Barnes, 478 S.E.2d 188, 190 (N.C. 1996). Property held in the hand or carried in a pocket is certainly covered, but "property may be under the protection of the person although not actually 'attached' to him." State v. Hill, 723 S.E.2d 582 (N.C. App. 2012) (unpublished; affirming conviction for "larceny from the person" of a cashier where defendant took money out of her nearby cash register).

According to the report, the boy has been charged only with misdemeanor larceny. I would have assumed that the only reason someone would get worked up enough to call the police about Pop-Tart larceny would be if a fresh, possibly toasted tart was actually taken out of that person's hand, but under the above rules that would have been felony larceny from the person (value irrelevant). So either the theft did not occur in the victim's presence or, and this may be more likely, they realized how ridiculous it would be to charge someone with a felony for stealing some Pop-Tarts.

As the video demonstrates, the neighbors recognized how ridiculous it was to get the police involved at all, let alone for them to actually make an arrest:


"We very much wanted to talk to the woman," said the reporter, which is totally understandable, and they waited over two hours for her to come home yesterday. But she eluded them, mostly.

Apparently warned that a reporter was waiting at her front door, she parked her car a block away and slipped into her house through the back. She emerged only briefly to hurl an obscenity and then slammed the door.

That sounds about right.

Unsurprisingly, the police department also did not want to make a statement. The boy is apparently being charged as a juvenile, a word that really applies to the whole incident.