Is it a crime to padlock someone's belongings?

locking someones backpack/suitcase zippers together, thus impossible to open
adding an extra lock to someones bike at a bike rack so they can't unlock their bike

is it illegal?  or just extremely annoying/inconvenient to the recipient?

sort by: active | newest | oldest
shawneegeek8 years ago
Possesion is 9/10 of the law... this is true.  If the belongings are on your property for a certain amount of time (depending on state law) and you are the official owner/leasee/or renter (meaning your name must appear on the deed, title, lease, rental agreement) then the belongings become property of the said owner.  In other words check your state laws.  Circimstances like this vary depending on that. 

Also in civil law if the owner of the property signed an agreement say a lease, and the resident breaks the agreement of that lease, the peoperty can be confined, and or auctioned.  But these stipulations must be noted in the agreement.  Contracts usually over ride the state's paramiters.

This is in no way leagle advise, check your state laws for the final answer.
orksecurity8 years ago
I suspect that denying them access to their own property *could* be construed as theft, if someone wants to bring charges.

12th commandment: Don't be stupid. Evolution takes no prisoners.
The law is 'Conversion', which includes theft, but also the preventing the legal owner from access.  If you want to look at it as 'theft of access'.

There is a large range of actions that the police can get to fall under 'stealing', including moving something which can be interpreted to be that you are coming back later to steal it.
guyfrom7up (author)  orksecurity8 years ago
whats if we do this like saw?

the key is at the bottom of this jar filled with vinegar and barbed wire >.>
guyfrom7up (author)  guyfrom7up8 years ago
im jking btw
Doctor What8 years ago
 Might be vandalism.  

Whatever you do, it could damage the item in question, which means you would be damaging someone else's property.

But then again, who's going to catch you.  
Good point. Vandalism definitely, if someone wanted to press charges.

As far as who will catch you... Most folks know who's likely to do this sort of thing to them. And frankly, most folks who would consider doing something  like this will eventually do something stupid enough to get themselves caught.
AFAIK, there is not a law that specifically addresses padlocking other people's things, but depending on circumstances (and how litigious your "victim" is), this could fall into the realm of other crimes. Ork* already mentioned theft, but there are others.

WARNING! Worst-case Scenario Examples Follow. The examples below are not considered by the author to be likely to occur, just possible in extreme circumstances. Also, the author is not a lawyer, and makes no claim to having any expertise in the field of law, especially as regards any country other than the United States of America. We now return to your regularly scheduled answer.

For example, it could be considered harassment or even assault if the recipient perceives it that way. If they're of a different ethnicity, sexual identity, religion, nationality or whatever, then you might even find yourself looking at a hate crime charge.
But wait, it gets better! If you lock a person's backpack, and that person turns out to be a diabetic who then dies because they couldn't get to their medication, look for "involuntary manslaughter" to come up in conversation. If it can be proven that you knew the person was diabetic before you padlocked them, then expect the "involuntary" part to go away. If it is known that you and the hypothetical dead diabetic were antagonistic towards each other, you might wind up facing a straight-up homicide charge.

I guess what I'm saying is, be careful and keep it in your circle of friends, and you'll probably be fine. Branch out to the larger populace, and there could be problems.
Kiteman8 years ago
In the UK, this might come under "public nuisance" if you do it outside private property, but otherwise it probably wouldn't be considered as anything more than a prank, unless you can show that the locker was aware that the lockee had essential medication inside the bag (eg epi-pen, inhaler), in which case it could be prosecuted as "reckless endangerment".
lemonie8 years ago
Is some humourless () likely to go-legal over this?
There's probably some way to litigate, but is anyone going to be bothered enough?

JimFlo8 years ago
Any question beginning with "Is it legal" or "Is it a crime" has only one correct answer, that being  "Probably, go ask a lawyer".
My question would be are you willing to dance backwards with the big boys at the penal cotillion? 
Bartboy8 years ago
I would say that if there is a bike locked to something that is shouldn't be (anything other than a bike rack) then it would not be illegal because the bike is technically abandoned.
It's not abandoned technically or otherwise. 
Johenix8 years ago
Locking zippers toogether on a backpack does not make it impossible to open the bag. If the bag is less than full you can manipulate the cloth so a hole appears between the zipper sliders. I have done it.
guyfrom7up (author)  Johenix8 years ago
well that's a tiny hole

i'm talking about locking 2 zippers together that are on the same track, you can get a little hole in between them, but nothing useful.

Funny story, my friends always nugget (turn eachother's backpacks inside out and put the stuff in and zip it up) while that person isn't looking.  So some of us started padlocking our backpacks, then we started padlocking other peoples
anywho, I'm just wondering on a larger scale as in not my specific situation.
Actually, to open a locked zipper all you need to do is shove a pen between the two tracks.
I'm not sure if that word "impossible" means what you think it means.

If someone pulled something like that on me, I think I'd just break, or pick, or cut off their lock.  I mean it might take some amount of time for me to do it, but its really not that much of an impediment.

You might as well ask if its a crime to tie someone's shoelaces together when they're not looking.  Would that be a crime? 

A very important question to ask is:  How well do you know the intended victim of this little practical joke?  Does he or she have a sense of humor?

If it happens to be someone you know, and you know this someone won't get too mad, then I say do it.  It's just a good joke between dear friends.

Otherwise you're kinda on your own.  Be very cautious.  OS makes a good point.  Your actions, whatever they are, can magically become a crime, if you irk someone badly enough for him or her to press charges, or sue,  tattle on you, or otherwise make a big stink out of it.