Overzealous Fam Mart owner abusing the Taiwanese legal system (shoplifting)


#1

I am in my 40’s and recently came back to Taiwan from Australia to rediscover my cultural heritage and learn the language. In the process I obtained a ROC ID with household registration due to my family familial bloodlines.

Now I am being prosecuted for NT5000 for “stealing” a NT60 bag of candy which in fact was intended for the kids. I was already running late and needed a red pen and stationary for student corrections. They didn’t sell it. Being in a rush I accidentally walked out with it. Keep in mind I come from a family of means and make a decent salary where one could legitimately give me the benefit of the doubt since why would I do it in broad daylight with my scooter parked out front and my face not obscured. Especially at a place that I frequent during my short lunch break.

Now I suffer from ADHD and anxiety and those situations are exacerbated when I am in a rush.

Long story short, the owner files a police report and tries to extort NT4000 at the police station from me to go away. I ask politely if there’s a more reasonable amount that we could discuss. She becomes indignant and intransigent so I call my father who is fluent in Chinese. She proceeds to yell at him telling him that he raised a thief and that she’s being more than generous.

Long story short, a magistrate hearing is set, and she now insists on NT8000 since this is time out of her day andwould not budge. So the Magistrate sets another hearing.

At the next hearing the magistrate misled me into believing if I just pay NT65 in restitution that my criminal responsibilities would be absolved.

Instead, a week later, I get one of those speedy trial letters from the prosecutor where he claims he looked at the evidence and finds intent to steal and that I looked guilty on the CCTV and unilaterally decides to fine me NT5000.

Back home a prosecutor would never take a case where the damage was only 65NT. Morever, a judge would never hear a case that involved only NT65.

So I appealed the judgement bringing in a certified letter from my Taiwanese psychiatrist that had been treating me 7 months prior to this incident. This is in addition to my father having to refute his reasoning for his sentence.

I’m afraid that the judges might accept this appeal and uphold it even given the mitigating circumstances.

Moreover, isn’t this a wastes of tax payer money and time? Any further, and they will have to provide me a a court appointed attorney since my Chinese is not very good and call in expert witnesses (doctor) to see if my medical condition may have contributed to this crime.

I was very polite and showed contrition the whole way through. Now why would a judge in Taiwan even take such a small case where more time and money will be spent on lawyers, expert witnesses, translators for such a small case? Judges have the right to toss out cases where there are mitigating circumstances and when the crime is so pitiable that it doesn’t warrant prosecution and instead should be tossed?


Are there more rude people in Taipei these days or is it just me?
Caught Shoplifting
#2

Just out of curiosity, which city is this case in? (Feel free to send me a pm or decline to answer.)

There is a provision in the Code of Civil Procedure for fining people who abuse the system, and I think there’s an equivalent in the Code of Criminal Procedure, but I’m doubtful that this case would qualify.

If you’re not satisfied with the Judicial Yuan’s handling of the case, you can petition the Control Yuan. :idunno:

And of course, you can always appeal to the Court of Public Opinion. :newspaper:


#3

I didn’t see in your post whether you went back to the store with the candy/payment after realizing your mistake? What happened between the owner filing a police report and you unintentionally walking out with the bag of lollies?


#4

Dude, you’re from a rich family, you did take the candy albeit absentmindedly. Shudda paid the 4000 and ended the thing.


#5

Just take the L and pay it.


#6

I disagree. It’s a matter of principle. It was an honest mistake where there was no intent to steal so OP should not pay some amount that is in essence an admission of guilt. It’s bullshit that it’s even made it to court especially over an item of such minuscule value. From what OP has said they really did not mean to steal the item but the other parties are pushing the case that OP did steal the item which OP should not agree to. OP has done the smart thing by being polite and showing contrition the whole way while not wavering from his standpoint.
I’m glad OP is standing up for their case. This way OP is not portraying us furriners as pushovers.


#7

She watches her CCTV constantly and the policeman mentions that she’s in the police station filing reports 10x a week. Nice little racket. NT40000 a week.


#8

A few hours went by, and it was the police that called me before I even realized what happened. I asked if I could goto the store and settle it there since it was such a small amount. They said the owner had already filed a police report. It was there that she met me and made a demand of NT4000 to drop everything.


#9

Two possibilities - heavy corruption (in Taiwan? gasp) or you’re not telling us the whole story.


#10

I’m telling the whole story. I’m still very curious as to why the legal system is so accommodating towards her and lets her get away with this.


#11

Because you did, in fact (if not in intent), commit a crime, and the authorities don’t like the hassle of thinking outside the box. They also love it when people settle out of court, because it creates way less paperwork.


#12

Well, I’d say that you are learning about your cultural heritage.

  1. Locals can be very opportunistic at times.
  2. I would suspect Guanxi may be involved here.
  3. I’m not too familiar with the judicial system, but it seems like mitigating circumstances aren’t something that I would expect to be considered seriously in a Taiwanese court, especially when you’re a foreigner,
  4. Technically speaking, you did break the law. You took an item from a store and didn’t pay from it. So she does have the right to press charges against you. Given the amount of police reports she files, it sounds like people do steal from her store and she uses it as an opportunity to make money.

#13

So she catches 10x people stealing from her each week? Why should she not file police reports? What would you do if your stuff was being stolen 10x times per week?

Hardly, while she’s away from the store dealing with thieves she has to employ someone to do her job and/or OT herself to cover it.

You should have taken the opportunity to apologize and pay the NT$4000 for stealing from her and wasting her time. Suck it up and pay the fine before it gets worse.


#14

It’s a racket and i’m very very curious why the legal system is so accommodating towards her since she makes 10x claims a week. Taiwanese are crap. Self-loathing, self-racist. My favorite part is that Taiwanese claim to be so warm, understanding and compassionate when compared to their mainland brethren, yet they’re just as backstabbing and vindictive. Only difference is Taiwanese don’t cut you in line or shit/piss on the non-existent sidewalks.


#15

I think the line about abusing the system is intended for absolutely groundless cases (like “I accuse X of being part of the intergalactic conspiracy to exterminate unicorns!”), not questionable cases. Each case needs to be considered separately.

If I were in your position, I would focus on the expert witness angle. If the court refuses to consider your doctor’s opinion, that may be a violation of your rights and so on. A lawyer should know how to handle it.


#16

The problem I have is that this is a singular event and not an established pattern of petty theft. I have a clean criminal record, moreover, having established a history of frequenting her FAM with a stack of receipts, where’s the intent? And why stop at NT65 in broad daylight?


#17

Anyway, my experience in Taiwan has left me with extreme disdain not just due to this one incident. I’m on a year sabbatical from work and took up teaching as a way to stay busy and contribute back to Taiwan. Instead, I found myself having to beg for jobs because of my slanted eyes and witnessed first hand just how harsh and inhumane Taiwanese bosses treat local staff.


#18

I would have paid the $4000 and been grateful it wasn’t prosecuted. I took your shit. My screwup, my fault. If she does it 100 times a week, it only means people are walking out of her store with crap they didn’t pay for 100 times. I’d put it past me and go to 7 next time.


#19

This is a very harsh generalization to give approximately 22 million people. Taiwan, like many different countries in the world have people from different kinds of educational backgrounds, morals and so on and so forth. Almost like saying every American is a burger eating/soda consuming/overweight imbecil. However, in your circumstance, it’s understandable of what you think towards the locals. I know I would too.

Back to your OP, you did steal something and it was caught on CCTV. There’s a sense of “wtf, why would I pay 4000 for something worth 65NT?”. Because that’s how much it costs for the forthcoming hassle to not happen.

Take it as a lesson learned. For something that was 65NT, with a 4000NT fine, now 8000NT and stupid ass hearings that will take up stupid amounts of time and paperwork. You may look back and think that 4000NT wasn’t so bad after all.


#20

NT5000 is the maximum punitive fine the the prosecutor can impose. I got time. I’m interested to see if the courts are going to spend all that time, and money to hear a case with no meat.