Man Arrested Because Of Overdue Movies - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Man Arrested Because Of Overdue Movies

A Smith County man says he was thrown in jail because of two overdue movies he'd had for four months. The Big Sandy man had a warrant out on two counts of theft. But, he says, he did not know what he was accused of stealing until after he got out of jail.  Officials say this could happen to anyone who does not return rented property when the owner requests it.

"They put me in a holding cell with 20 men. One of them went crazy and they had to move us out and he flooded the cell. It was horrible," said Barry Cooper, 37, of Big Sandy.  Cooper says he spent six hours in jail, not knowing what he was accused of stealing. 

Cooper was reporting to a Smith County agency Thursday afternoon for an unrelated matter.  A deputy was called in and Cooper was arrested.  Cooper said the deputy told him he had a warrant out for two Class C thefts signed by Smith County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Mitch Shamburger. "When he checked in, this flag came up and when the flag came up, he went to jail," said Shamburger.

Cooper says he had no clue why he why he was in jail and he felt terrible that his wife had to tell their children their father was behind bars. "She had to call the kids, we have four kids, and tell them we're going to be late. Your dad's in jail and we don't know why yet. They said he stole something," said Cooper.

The next day Cooper found out why he had been arrested. Judge Shamburger says the owner of "Cinema Two" in Winona filed a complaint three weeks ago. The store had tried contacting Cooper to return two movies that had been overdue for four months -- Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers Two.

"Since they can't rent it out, they're deprived of their rental property and therefore you come up with a theft of service," said Shamburger.

The store's owner told KLTV 7 News, she has spent $400 since April of last year to replace unreturned movies.  She says it's cost her hundreds of dollars more in lost revenue.

"I think we're going overboard by using our police agencies, our government agencies, and our government cages, we're using that to become bill collectors," said Cooper.

Cooper returned the videos this morning. He says his lawyer is looking into whether he can sue the store.

Cooper owes $215 in late fees. The owner of the store says she will not pursue collecting the money. Judge Shamburger says the complaint against Cooper will be dismissed and he'll get back the $650 he spent getting out of jail.  

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.


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