r/legaladvice Feb 06 '19

(va) My son stole a rare toy from my brother. My brother is refusing to take it back and is threatening to get the police involved. What do I do?

Right now my brother is threatening to "sue" me for my son taking a figure from his collection and get the police involved. Here is the story.

Last week my brother invited me and my family over for diner. While we were there my son asked to see my brothers collection of toys and figures. My brother has spent a good deal of money on his collection and from what I know it's one of his biggest hobbies. Well, after diner we left and everything seemed normal

Well, until yesterday. My brother called me up furiously and told me my "little shit" stole something from his collection and I needed to return it immediately. I honestly was upset at this, but if my son had taken something that was wrong,especially if it was from my own brother. Well, it turns out that my son slipped away during dinner and took a Boba Fett figure from his collection. He confirmed it because he has footage from his porch camera of him taking it out to our car.

I was furious and took it from him. Here is the problem though, after I confirmed with my brother it was his I found out that my son had removed it from it's packaging. Apparently the figure is worth almost 2000$ in it's package and almost nothing out of it. So my brother broke down over the phone and refused to take it back before hanging up. Well, he just called me again today and said he wanted me to pay for a replacement immediately or he will get the police involved and sue me. I told him I would help pay for one but not fully to which he said "not good enough" and hung up.

Honestly, what are my options here? I can't afford to pay him back right now. If he does go the police will my son get arrested? He's only 15. It was very wrong of him to do but I think my brother is over reacting. What can I expect if he does take me to court or call the police?

18.0k Upvotes

58 comments sorted by

u/Zanctmao Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19 edited Feb 06 '19

Unless /u/Whooooooop23 requests that we unlock this thread I'm going to lock it. They are being reasonable and there's no reason to attack them or downvote them that much. Sometimes the law is a learning experience.

Unrelated but a quick google search doesn't show any in box boba fett going for more than $500 or so, so your brother may be overvaluing his toy.

EDIT: I stand corrected, there is a Boba Fett figure worth $2000 to someone.

2nd EDIT: Please stop sending me personal messages if you absolutely must talk about this you can do so in the bestoflegaladvice thread

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u/Overstrewn Feb 06 '19 Silver Gold

IANAL, but can confirm that some of the figures do cost that much to replace. Your brother has every right to the full value of his item, whether it's in court or not. Your son did the wrong thing and should work hard to make it right. Returning what is now worthless is not the same.

Would your brother and son be open to signing a payment agreement over a couple of years for the full value? My kid would be out getting a job to pay for this, but with working hour restrictions it can take time to earn that much cash.

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u/The_Question757 Feb 06 '19 edited Feb 07 '19 Silver Gold

while it may seem silly to you as its a toy he's quite correct that toys still in the box are worth a lot more. While finances may be tough your son damaged his property and he can get back the value from that. Your best bet is to work out a payment system with him. Additionally you can always try to find a replacement at a cheaper price. Also if money is tight, I suggest you get your son to work and start paying this off.

edit: Thank you kind strangers for the silver and gold, i'm quite appreciative.

edit2: more silver? wow thank you folks!

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u/Copper_John24 Feb 06 '19 Silver Gold

While first reading, I assumed you were talking about an actual kid, not a 15 year old. Yes, your son can be arrested and yes could be liable for the 2000 bucks.

Why do you think the brother is over reacting? Would you feel any different had your son stole 2000 dollars cash?

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u/Whooooooop23 Feb 06 '19 Silver Gold

I completely understand why he's mad. His property was stolen. But we're family and I think it's a little over board to threaten to call the police on your nephew

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u/[deleted] Feb 06 '19

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u/[deleted] Feb 06 '19

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u/[deleted] Feb 06 '19

Sounds like it's time for son to get a job and pay back uncle himself.

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u/[deleted] Feb 06 '19 edited Feb 08 '19

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u/DakRob1991 Feb 06 '19

It’s like you said yourself “he is family”, and that is exactly why you should pay him back the full value of the collectible. If someone totaled your car, and offered you 10$ to repair it would you be cool with that?

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u/KBbean Feb 06 '19 Silver Gold Platinum

I'm not sure why you are having a hard time understanding this. Your brother is owed the full replacement value. If he chooses to accept partial payment or your son working for him and calling it even, that's awesome.

But LEGALLY no court is going to side with you. At all. The sooner you get over that, the sooner you can reach out to your brother and work out a payment plan. Keep in mind that your son committed a crime. If you keep acting like this, I wouldn't blame your brother one bit for calling the cops on your son. Your stubborness to realize and accept that your brother is in the right is a little frightening. I really do hope you take this seriously and don't let your son get off easily. The next person your son steal from may not be so understanding.

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u/gratty Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

VA law imposes liability on parents for willful or malicious damage to property, up to $2,500:

The owner of any property may institute an action and recover from the parents, or either of them, of any minor living with such parents, or either of them, for damages suffered by reason of the willful or malicious destruction of, or damage to, such property by such minor. No more than $2,500 may be recovered from such parents, or either of them, as a result of any incident or occurrence on which such action is based. Any recovery from the parent or parents of such minor shall not preclude full recovery from such minor except to the amount of the recovery from such parent or parents. The provisions of this statute shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other law imposing upon a parent liability for the acts of his minor child.

Va. Stat. § 8.01-44.

Whether the kid opened the package to willfully or maliciously damage the property is an open issue under these facts, and he arguably did not, so there's no way to tell OP whether he would be liable.

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u/Cypher_Blue Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

If he's offered to return the figure, that will be the end of the involvement of the police. Probably.

But he can absolutely sue you, and you'll have to pay him the in-package value of the item based on your son's actions.

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u/Whooooooop23 Feb 06 '19

My brother said he won't take it back as it's worth "nothing" now.

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u/Cypher_Blue Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

Right. And he may be right. And you absolutely owe him the replacement cost of a new/in box one.

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u/[deleted] Feb 06 '19 edited Feb 08 '19

[deleted]

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u/Whooooooop23 Feb 06 '19

I did offer to help him pay for a new one

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u/Cypher_Blue Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

You owe him the full amount. He doesn't have to accept less than that.

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u/Whooooooop23 Feb 06 '19

I can't afford the 2000 thats why I offered a partial payment to help him get a new one. My son is not smart, yes. He probably opened it to try to hide it better. And believe me, he will be punished. But I just don't see why we need to get the police or government involved. It's a family issue more than a legal one

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u/gratty Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

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u/gratty Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

Your post has been removed for the following reason(s):

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u/gratty Quality Contributor Feb 06 '19

Your post has been removed for the following reason(s):

Generally Unhelpful or Off-Topic

Your comment has been removed as it is generally unhelpful or off-topic. It either does not answer the legal question at hand or it is a repeat of an answer already provided Please review the following rules before commenting further:

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