Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Help Me Howard: Stolen Car
Someone steals your property and is caught, now you have a choice, do you want them to go to prison or be set free so they can pay you back? What would you do? One South Florida woman has that choice to make, so let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Shona needs a workout she turns to karate, and when she needs to smile she turns to her students.
Shona Eiland: "It's just seeing the joy in their eyes when they actually get it."
Shona is teaching kids how to take care of themselves, but when she was recently stationed in the Middle East she was the one who got taken.
Shona Eiland: "I was very upset."
Shona had been told by a friend that her customized blue Honda Civic had been stolen and had turned up on Craigslist.
Shona Eiland: "I know it was my car because I have a distinctive grill."
Shona spent $10,000 on the car, putting in a new motor, rims, a paint job and then watched over the internet as it was sold piece by piece.
Shona Eiland: "I've heard of it happening before, but I never thought it would happen to me and that I would actually find the person that did it."
Homestead Police were notified, they arrested this man, Timothy London. Then Shona came home to see what London is accused of dismantling.
Shona Eiland: "The entire car is stripped, there's no motor, it's gone. Everything is gone. It's indescribable. It's like if you come home on Christmas and all your gifts are stolen."
Shona's next shock, finding out what the man accused of destroying her car was facing.
Shona Eiland: "He's going to walk free."
London is labeled a habitual offender, who has a history of collecting other peoples property, but in the criminal justice system London is not considered that bad of a guy.
Shona Eiland: "He may get probation because of this point system that I'm told we have."
Criminals are given points based on the type crimes they commit. Violent crimes get you more points. Non violent, like stealing a car get you less. London's rap sheet shows five prior charges, all non-violent, so he may wind up with a get out of jail card.
Shona Eiland: "I'd like to see him serve time for it because it's not right. You don't go around taking people's things."
Shona's car is sitting at in a body shop, she doesn't have the money to rebuild it again and can't believe the man who is accused of destroying it may be set free again, so Howard what should she do?
Howard Finkelstein: "If Shona wants him to serve time, state attorneys usually try to give the victims what they want, but the point system that every court has to follow can limit what a judge can do. If London is convicted and doesn't score enough points a judge usually won't send him to jail."
Judge: "Stand up Mr. London we are talking about you."
When London showed up in court his trial date was set for March. Shona was also there and watched as London was told since he violated a prior court order for another arrest he is being held without bond. Shona may not believe it, but in one way it might be better if London doesn't go to prison.
Howard Finkelstein: "Here is why if he is convicted and a judge puts him on probation they can force him to pay for the damage done to her car. If he doesn't pay, the judge could then send him to prison, so that's an incentive for him to pay restitution."
Shona is keeping close track of the case to protect herself. Similar to how she teaches children to protect themselves.
Shona Eiland: "It builds self confidence, it makes them more aware of their surroundings, they're less likely to be abducted because they know how to protect themselves."
Prison or payback for Shona. If the guy accused of stealing her car is convicted she has told the state attorney she wants prison. She says with his rapsheet he doesn't think he will pay her back anyway. We will let you know if she gets what she wants.
Someone stolen your peace of mind feel like you have been imprisoned contact us. We may not be able to spell restitution, but we know how to get you payback.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: email@example.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org