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Woman Is Arrested for Losing a Rental Copy of 'Monster-in-Law' 9 Years Ago

As if landing 30 days in jail weren't bad enough, she also presumably watched this movie.
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The rise of Netflix, Redbox, and similar services unsurprisingly had a significantly negative impact on the video rental industry, and many such stores in the United States have gone out of business in recent years. In some cases, former customers have found themselves getting calls from debt collectors seeking remuneration for DVDs and VHS tapes that were never returned to now-defunct stores.

A mere demand for repayment, however, pales in comparison to the experience of Kayla Michelle Finley; the South Carolina resident was recently arrested for never returning a copy of Monster-in-Law that she rented in 2005, according to Fox Carolina.

The 27-year-old woman went to the police to actually report a crime, only to discover there was a 9-year-old warrant out for her arrest. She was thus charged with failure to return a rented video cassette. This alleged transgression, a form of "petit larceny," is a misdemeanor under South Carolina law, the maximum penalty for which is a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail. While the video store that requested the warrant has since gone out of business, warrants never expire so Finley will have to pay damages to the Pickens County Sheriff's Office if she is convicted.

If you're curious to see what all the fuss is about, you can purchase a DVD copy of Monster-in-Law for $5 from Walmart or Amazon, at about a $1 savings. That said, the film garnered an abysmal 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes, so you'll probably regret your purchase (as we imagine Kayla Michelle Finley currently does). For more information on this story as it develops, you can check out the original post at Fox Carolina.

Readers, what do you think of this woman's plight? Has the video rental industry's downfall caused you any odd grievances? Share your stories in the comments below!


Features Writer

Marcy pens consumer news stories of all sorts, in addition to adding pithy prose to many of the roundups you see every day. Her work for DealNews has appeared on sites like Lifehacker, the Huffington Post, and MSN Money. She is by far the most metal member of the DealNews staff, and you can see why by following her on Twitter @ThatBonebright.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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9 comments
whgarner
She probably saved hundreds of people by sacrificing herself renting and keeping the movie. She should be given a medal and parade.
married2lori
For Monster in Law, she deserves a slap on the wrist. If she had rented Gigli, I don't think the death penalty would have been too severe.
Almaz_z
I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that she rented the movie in the first place, and as hard as I try, I cannot imagine why she didn't return it immediately just to get it out of her house. Yes, I've seen it.
mongoltoone1
Should have been arrested for renting "Monster-In-Law", am I right fellas?
MannyMan
Moral of the story: Don't report crime to the police.
Frank Zentura
This is a beuraucratic waste of time and taxpayer money. Just settle the "debt" out of court. Is the rental company even still in business???
nematoda
@ski52 Just because your mom told you something doesn't mean it's true.
Simeon3D
The issue isn't the current cost of the movie, but rather what it cost in 2005. Furthermore it is the lost revenue of potentially renting the crappy movie out to unsuspecting customers over and over. I believe that a lot of these VHS/DVD's when purchased by a blockbuster or in this case Dalton Video cost $100-$200 to give them the right to rent them. Assume $200 for the original cost. Then lost revenue of $4-5 for each rental. Assume the store closed in 2008, that's 3 years. Rental of this movie once a month = $5*12*3 = $180 + $200 = $380. Inflated to today's dollars = $450. That's the theft. If I stole a top of the line tube TV in 2005 that was worth $1000 and today you can hardly give them away for $25, it was still a large amount of money back then and that's why the warrant was out.
ski522
Theft is theft, why should anyone be shocked by this. As my mom used to tell me there is no difference between stealing a million dollars and stealing $1, you're still stealing. And if there was a warrant out for her arrest that means she skipped on a court hearing or attended the court hearing and was found guilty, but didn't make restitution.

That being said, it's most likely an appeal will be made and if found guilty, she'll probably get a much reduced fine (cost of the tape in 2005) and probably a few days of community service.
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