Thief released after 104 days behind bars: Man sentenced for stealing cop’s car

POSTED: 01/11/13 12:16 PM

St. Maarten – Etnaldo Jedisko Benders was not in a good place on November 26 of last year after an argument with his mother and stepfather. The 20-year-old took to the streets and when he spotted a car with the keys left in the ignition he grabbed it, thinking this was a way to make some money. Bad idea: the car belonged to community police officer Felix Richards, who witnessed the theft, jumped in the car with another motorist and gave chase.

When Benders crashed the car in a traffic jam and attempted to run away, Richards was on to him and arrested the young man who heavily resisted. That resistance added to the charge of simple car theft, because it now became theft with the use of violence.

“I needed money and I am sorry for what I did,” Benders told the Court in First Instance yesterday morning.

“Would you have stolen the car if you had known it belonged to a policeman?” Judge Tamara Tijhuis asked the defendant.

“No,” Benders answered.

“And if it had been my car?” the judge persisted, bringing a smile to several faces in the courtroom, but benders claimed he would not have stolen that particular car either.

Prosecutor Georges van den Eshof noted that opportunity creates thieves “You should not be surprised that you car gets stolen if you leave it with the keys in the ignition. But it remains theft and if you then resist arrest it becomes theft with the use of violence. That makes it worse.”

At the same time, the prosecutor noted that this type of violence is not comparable with armed robberies on supermarkets. He demanded 150 days imprisonment, with 104 days suspended, 2 years of probation and 60 hours of community service.

Attorney Arnout Kraaijeveld had no argument with the prosecutor’s demand, since it means that Benders will get out of jail today. “He acted under stress, after an argument with his mother and stepfather and he made a wrong choice. He wants to pick up a job as a packer boy at a supermarket after his release. The prosecutor’s demand is reasonable and my client needs the suspended part of his sentence as a warning to keep him on the right track.”

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