LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – On July 1, some major changes were made to Indiana’s criminal code, including modifications to the state’s theft law.
Monday, sister station WLFI-TV brought viewers a story about a Lafayette business owner who said he witnessed a man walk on his property, attempt to steal a bike and then walk away from the crime without being punished, all thanks to the new law.
Dan Feldhouse owns Diamond Back Gutter Covers located on the 1200 block of Alabama Street in Lafayette.
He recently installed security cameras on his property and last week, he said those security cameras came in handy.
“I’m watching them and I see a gentleman coming on the property,” Feldhouse explained. “And then he’s walking back and forth and walking back and forth and we sit and watch him for a while.”
Feldhouse said after looking around several times to make sure no one else was on the property, the man started to leave with one of his employee’s bikes.
Feldhouse and several of his employees met the man at the front gate and called police before he could leave the property.
“The police officer comes in and we’re all excited because we got him and thought he’d be going to jail,” Feldhouse explained. “And the police officer said, ‘I can’t.’ And I said, ‘you’re going to let him go?’ And he said, ‘I have to.’”
This comes after a change in state law earlier this month.
“July 1, a theft statute was changed by Indiana legislators,” Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said. “The prior law of theft was a D felony, and dollar amount really didn’t play an important factor.”
Harrington said the new changes depend on the amount the item being stolen is worth.
“So, if a crime is less than $750, it’s a misdemeanor,” Harrington explained.
Harrington said legislators made the changes to control inmate population in the Department of Corrections.
However, when it affects the quality of life for citizens, Harrington said changes like this aren’t necessary.
“It’s an invasion of their personal security,” Harrington said. “If you have an individual and they lose three or four hundred dollars, that’s a major loss.”
“It’s not even necessarily about the bike,” bicycle owner Michael Trent said. “It really just comes down to the principle of it.”
“It’s just wrong,” Feldhouse said. “It’s just wrong! Criminals now have more rights than we do.”