It’s the sort of “crime” rumored to happen in places with Draconian legal systems, like Singapore. An Ohio woman who was jobless and on the verge of becoming homeless helped herself to loose change lying at the bottom of a public fountain. She collected all of $2.87. And now she has a date to appear before a judge on charges of petty theft and worries about going to jail.
It’s hard to argue that the officer who gave Deidre Romine, of Bellefontaine, a summons wasn’t doing his job. He happened upon a woman stealing coins from a fountain and did his duty. It probably didn’t help matters that the fountain is outside the Logan County Courthouse.
It’s equally hard not to feel for Romine, who lost her job, is about to be evicted from her apartment, and was hungry. She told reporters with station WBNS:
I’m trying to feed myself and I’ve got four cats I’m raising and I’m trying to feed them. The money didn’t belong to anybody so I just took it out of there.
Not surprisingly, her story tugged at the heart strings of a local resident named Will Zell, who began a donation drive after hearing of Romine’s plight. Zell’s initial goal was to raise $200. As of Friday morning, donations have totaled $8,000. Said Zell:
We want the community to know the why rather than just the headline that she got arrested and we also want to help her out.
The city (which is listed as the victim in the case) says it hopes to resolve the matter before Romine’s November trial. In the meantime, thanks to the publicity, Romine has secured a case worker through the county mental health services.
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