Skip to comments.Wireless Freeloader Charged Because He Never Bought Coffee(for "Theft of Services")
Posted on 06/23/2006 8:34:43 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Wireless Freeloader Charged Because He Never Bought Coffee
By Gregg Keizer
Thu Jun 22, 6:32 PM ET
A Vancouver, Wash. coffee shop tired of seeing a 20-year-old man mooch off their free wireless Internet access called the police, who charged him with "theft of services."
Brewed Awakenings employees dialed 911 after Alexander Eric Smith of Battle Ground, Wash. piggybacked off the shop's wireless Internet service for more than three months.
"He doesn't buy anything," Emily Pranger, the shop's manager, told KATU, a Portland, Ore. television station. "It's not right for him to come and use it."
Smith allegedly parked his truck in the parking lot to use Brewed Awakenings' wireless access.
County deputies charged Smith with theft of services after returning to the parking lot after they told him to stop. The crime, which covers such crimes as bypassing a utility meter, stealing cable, and leaving a restaurant without paying, has been used in the past to prosecute hackers who have accessed a computer or network without paying for it. "It's something that is borderline creepy," Pranger said to KATU.
The Clark County sheriff's office and its prosecutors are reviewing the case, the television station's Web site noted.
How is this illegal? It's only free if you buy something? Is that policy posted? Is the ordinance posted? This is like dumpster diving. If they throw out day old bagels and he gets them out of the dumpster, did he steal them? If they throw out a free wireless connection emitting from the building, and he uses it, how is it any different?
ehhh, whats a hotspot and whats not?
nice use of the 911 system. /sarc
They can also nail him with loitering and trespassing.
I'm sure they have written somewhere "Wireless internet access is provided free to our guests."
It's up to the shop to decide who a guest is. I'm going to guess a guy taking advantage without paying is not.
That's the only thing I can see them charging him with.
I'm reminded of the early days of satellite TV, when people used to buy their own dishes and hack the signal to get free services. The service owners were pissed that people were doing this, but, IIRC, a judge ruled that if the satellite providers didn't want these people to use their signal then they shouldn't hose it into their backyards. This case is a little different since the user was on the owner's property when he used the signal.
He was parking in the coffee shop's parking lot 'for hours at a time'.
And, he's a 'level one sex offender'.
That is why you bite the bullet and buy the small (tall?) coffee and a scone. After that, they leave you all alone...I have been known to sit at a Starbucks for hours during a trip, just using the hotspot through that ploy.
He may be guilty of tresspassing; but not of theft. Consider, do you ever drive cross country and go into a filling station or a McDonalds and use the rest room without buying anything? Or go to the mall and use the restroom in Dillards/Foleys/Bon Marche/Neiman Marcus and not purchase anything? That would be 'theft of services' for water was paid for my the proprietor for your use. In this case, nothing was 'taken'; this case is similar to saying that he stole your air conditioned air.
The charge should fit the crime, and 'theft of services' is not what happened; however tresspassing / loitering was committed.
If it's free; how does one steal it? A guest is anyone who visits.
However, if the sign said "Complementry Wireless Internet For Our Patrons"; then that would be a different story. However, if they simply said "Free Internet", then free = free.
No, you "left" something for them...
There was a case somewhere? about a guy that would come into a cafe and order water, and eat the bottle of catsup on the table and leave. If they say it was free it was free and they had to serve him.