Johnny gets half way home before he realises that he is no longer carrying his laptop, which he must have left in the street during the argument. He rushes back to the scene, but there's no sign of his computer. In actual fact it isn't even his laptop - he has borrowed it from a client and there are going to be some very awkward questions asked in the morning. Johnny decides that the laptop must have been stolen (on the basis that it has been taken from the street by someone) and realises that with suitable massaging of the facts this will represent a much more palatable explanation to his client. Johnny is therefore adamant that he wants to report a crime.
Is it appropriate to take a crime report, or would you insist on recording the laptop as lost property? On one hand it seems highly likely that the laptop was half-inched the moment someone saw it lying in the street, but on the other hand it is also quite possible that it had been removed simply in order that it could be handed in to the police. If it were recorded as lost property but wasn't handed in, does there come a point in time when it is assumed to have been stolen by whoever found it and can therefore be crimed, or would the police need to wait until it was recovered and then determine that it had actually been stolen?
This is based on a real scenario where was actually quite a lot more going on. In the real scenario I insisted that it be treated as lost property, but the facts were slightly different and I'd be interested on any thoughts on the more general case above.
Edited by Prolixia, 29 May 2012 - 02:31 PM.