back to article Cops called after pair enter Canadian home and give it a good clean

O Canada, great northern land of milk in bags, merciless winters, maple syrup and leaving your front door unlocked, at least according to firebrand filmmaker Michael Moore. However, Mounties have warned residents of Nova Scotia against the latter after two women entered a home uninvited – and cleaned it. The homeowner, who was …

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  1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    anti-crime

    The late Terry Pratchett refers to these activities as anti-crimes and his example was breaking-in-and redecorating. Not too far from what actually happened.

    It was a case of mistaken identity, I do admit. On that note, does an act have to criminal intent or is the execution of the act enough to be a crime? I suppose it depends on the act.

    1. bencurthoys

      Re: anti-crime

      The standard common law test of criminal liability is expressed in the Latin phrase actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, i.e. "the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty". In jurisdictions with due process, there must be both actus reus ("guilty act") and mens rea for a defendant to be guilty of a crime (see concurrence). As a general rule, someone who acted without mental fault is not liable in criminal law. Exceptions are known as strict liability crimes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: anti-crime

        "As a general rule, someone who acted without mental fault is not liable in criminal law. "

        Yet in the UK it is often said that "Ignorance of a law is no defence". Given that the last Labour government apparently introduced over 3000 new criminal laws then it is highly likely that we all break laws unknowingly.

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: anti-crime

          Ignorance of the law is not 'mens rea'. Those who have a sub-normal mental ability can steal without understanding that this is wrong. It is the intent to do wrong that is the mental awareness. Much wrong is also against the law, but some isn't, and yet most people can draw a line where right shades into a very narrow band of questionable before we're in the territory or wrong. Cleaners who mistook the house clearly had no idea of doing wrong. Those who claim they didn't know it was wrong to steal a co-worker's packed luck clearly have a mens rea that they crossed the line, because nobody who knows the 'rules' of the workplace (and decent behaviour) can pretend they didn't know stealing was wrong.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: anti-crime

          I think it's necessary to have a tradeoff - if someone from the tribal areas of Pakistan decides to kill his daughter, we want to be able to lock him up despite his belief that it's OK because of the society he comes from. After all, he did intend to kill her and we're pretty much agreed as a society that wanting to do that is a bad thing.

          On the other hand there have been cases of teenagers asking another teenager for an ecstasy tablet and then dying, resulting in a conviction for the donor. That's a grey area - they know that Es are illegal but they have no intention of doing anybody any harm with them. You would think that the case could be made out for possession but not manslaughter. But we have judges who then get strongly criticised by the Appeal Court, so perhaps ignorantia juris non exculpat should also be applied to m'lud sometimes.

          1. Jtom Bronze badge

            Re: anti-crime

            On this side of the pond, I would believe giving someone E and it resulting in a death, generally would be classified as negligent homicide. That’s when someone unintentionally kills someone due to a reckless act. I suspect most would consider giving someone a questionable drug to someone, even if asked, is a reckless act.

        3. Giovani Tapini

          Re: anti-crime

          I think the point is that regardless of "I didn't know it was against the law" excuses, you are likely to still know what you are doing is likely to be with bad intentions regardless of your knowledge of the law.

          In this case the cleaners didn't even break in, the door was open. They went in without breaking in, they cleaned. Both these actions done with only good intentions. Therefore I reason out this to be an "anti-crime" as described above.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: anti-crime

            More of an "Anthea-crime", I think.

          2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: anti-crime

            "

            I think the point is that regardless of "I didn't know it was against the law" excuses, you are likely to still know what you are doing is likely to be with bad intentions regardless of your knowledge of the law.

            "

            Not in this day of 1000 new laws passed every month. If you were working in a charity shop for example, would you know that it is against the law to sell a pencil sharpener to a 15 year old? (It is a "Bladed article" which may not be sold to children - you'll see it has to be approved if you scan one at a self-service till).

        4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: anti-crime

          "

          Yet in the UK it is often said that "Ignorance of a law is no defence".

          "

          Ignorance *of the law* is no defence, but ignorance *of the facts* certainly is. e.g. it is no defence to say, "I did not know that it is illegal to possess cocaine." But it is a defence to say, "I did not know that the substance in my possession was cocaine."

          The converse is also true. You can be convicted of being in possession of talcum powder if it can be proven that you thought it was cocaine.

          In this case, the fact that the cleaners believed that they were in the correct house certainly is a defence.

          1. ma1010 Silver badge

            Re: anti-crime

            You can be convicted of being in possession of talcum powder if it can be proven that you thought it was cocaine.

            I remember one case where a coke addict called the police and wanted them to arrest someone for selling her baking powder instead of cocaine. The cop didn't arrest anyone, but had a good laugh. He told the caller that he could arrest her for possession if she'd had real cocaine, so she should be happy she only had baking powder.

        5. Toni the terrible
          Black Helicopters

          Re: anti-crime

          Well it is often noted by some Police that there are three type of People; The Police themselves, people who have commited a crime, and people who havent been caught yet

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: anti-crime

      " On that note, does an act have to criminal intent or is the execution of the act enough to be a crime? "

      When the Sexual Offences Act 2003 draft was first presented for public consultation - it was quickly noticed that "indecent exposure" had been redefined. In the previous law it was "intent to cause alarm/distress".

      In the new draft it was merely "to cause alarm/distress" - with a further modification that the judgement was made on the basis of a hypothetical "most vulnerable" person - rather than an actual observer.

      Sections of the drafting committee justified the removal of "intent" because "there currently aren't enough convictions". After protests the "intent" was put back in for the wording of the act. I am not sure if the "hypothetical" victim status was retained.

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: anti-crime

        Odd how you go from a story about breaking and entering to indecent exposure. What are you trying to defend here?

        1. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: anti-crime

          "Odd how you go from a story about breaking and entering to indecent exposure. "

          Not really, the law regarding sexual crimes is where the most debate over intent exists.

          1. AMBxx Silver badge
            Angel

            Re: anti-crime

            For an anti-crime, in the early days of home Internet, I had a firewall that would report the IP address of people supposedly trying to hack me. It was normally just that they had a badly configured PC or virus. If they were running Windows 9x, it was easy enough to browse their PC and leave messages on the Start menu about updating their security.

            No idea if anyone ever read the messages though.

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: anti-crime

          Odd how you go from a story about breaking and entering to indecent exposure.

          You could certainly go from "cleaners" to "exposure" - indecent or otherwise in the days of "Eurotrash" on Channel 4, with Chris and Ralf, the Nude "Romeo Cleaners" from Berlin

          http://www.rapidotelevision.com/shows/shw.73.php

          icon: "Mr Penguin"

    3. regregular

      Re: anti-crime

      "Anti-Crime"

      I like it. This should be done in the digital realm.

      Find those unpatched plastic routers with known vulnerabilities on the internet, gain access and update the damn firmware.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: anti-crime

        In the UK, if the door is not locked then it is not breaking and entering, and if nothing is stolen or damaged then it's not burglary.

        Which leaves only trespass, which I think is a civil matter.

        I remember as kids our doors were never locked, I had no key but would come home from school to an empty house and just walk in. Sometimes a friend would come in, shout to see if I was home and just leave if no answer.

        I lived in SF Bay Area (East Bay) in the 1990s, in a house with 6 people and 2 keys. The house was never locked. One day we found kids in the pool in the yard, but they hadn't realised the house was open and had climbed the fence.

        1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

          Re: anti-crime

          werdsmith» The house was never locked. One day we found kids in the pool in the yard, but they hadn't realised the house was open and had climbed the fence.

          That is the only proper way to do it.

          As a child, I would never have dreamed of entering someone's house unless I knew that I was allowed in, but climbing over their fence, well, that was perfectly OK. In the same way that I would never, ever steal from a shop but I had no problems helping myself to the apples from neighbours' trees.

          1. Black Betty

            Re: anti-crime

            Scrumping (the proper technical term for nicking fruit from a tree) is still theft.

        2. FozzyBear Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: anti-crime

          "In the UK, if the door is not locked then it is not breaking and entering, and if nothing is stolen or damaged then it's not burglary."

          UK , Australia and Canada all follow the Westminster system. The precedence of property theft have been established for centuries. The reason many of us were sent to Australia in the first place.

          Unless the Section has been amended it would still be considered Break and Enter.

          Whilst the door was unlocked, a seal (door or window or other means of access ) was broken ( in this instance Broke means simply opening the door without damage). You could not charge Break, Enter and Steal as obviously nothing of value was stolen

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: anti-crime

            UK , Australia and Canada all follow the Westminster system. The precedence of property theft have been established for centuries. The reason many of us were sent to Australia in the first place.

            Wow! I knew you were getting on a bit but I didn't realise you were quite that old!

            You could not charge Break, Enter and Steal as obviously nothing of value was stolen

            Well, there was the electricity they used.

        3. danbishop

          Re: anti-crime

          Actually, technically, "in the UK" there's no such thing as breaking and entering.

          In Scotland there is. In England and Wales there is not. Instead you'd be charged with criminal damage for whatever you broke getting in, or of course burglary if you go further and steal something and/or assault someone.

          In this case, as you quite rightly say, nothing was broken so the only offence is trespass and that is indeed civil.

          As for Northern Ireland... I don't actually know... Google time for me.

      2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: anti-crime

        > Find those unpatched plastic routers with known vulnerabilities on the internet, gain access and update the damn firmware.

        Colleague of mine sort of did that: broke into servers of his internet provider and patched a (nasty) kernel bug in all of them. Things went to court. Judge: "So, are you root-at-provider-dot-com?". Sadly he got more than just a slap on the wrist.

        That judge -------------->

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: anti-crime

          "So, are you root-at-provider-dot-com?"

          In order to patch a kernel he must have been at the relevant time.

      3. Paul

        Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

        pop over to shodan and get started!

    4. JustWondering

      Re: anti-crime

      If someone trespassed on my property with the intent of cleaning my house, a small bribe would probably absolve them of any legal repercussions from myself.

    5. Robert Brockway

      Re: anti-crime

      Some offences have an element of intent, some do not.

      There is a defence in common law called "honest mistake of fact" in which a person can be excused from otherwise criminal behaviour by virtue of really believing they were acting lawfully. The example given to me many years ago was of a person driving the wrong car out of a carpark because it looked exactly like their car (to a reasonable first approximation) and their key worked. Back in the old days of physical keys there weren't that many combinations so the chance of a matching key was higher than many might expect. Also, very old keys were known to be good at opening car doors.

      Obviously, this defence does not work for all crimes.

      1. Mr Booth
        Facepalm

        Re: anti-crime

        Believe it or not, this actually happened to me. In my university days I had a lovely green '79 Mitsubishi Lancer GL. One day, I hopped in, started the car up, reversed out and had the feeling something wasn't right. I noticed the faint smell of cigarette smoke (I am not a smoker) and wondered if someone had been in my car. It was only when I opened the glove box, only to recognise nothing in it; that I had indeed taken someone else's car. I was mortified, so discreetly reversed back, and parked the car, locked it and sheepishly found my car parked a few bays down.

        A few weeks later I saw the same car, and for shits and giggles decided to park next to it. As it was exam time I found a nice observation spot in one of the libraries and watched to see what would happen. Sure enough, a parade of people doing double takes, a bemused security guard and yes, the owner of the other car backing my car out of the car park and driving about twenty feet down the road before realising their mistake. The real kicker was that our licence plates were almost the same, the only difference was the last two digits were reversed.

        1. Donn Bly

          Re: Ooooh...

          In my college days I can remember one of my roommates going out on a cold and snowy morning to warm up their car, which also involved cleaning off about a foot a snow and digging it out from where it had been plowed in by the plow truck. However, when he went to leave for classes he noticed a problem in that the car he warmed up was a stick, while his was an automatic.

    6. VikiAi Bronze badge
      Meh

      Re: anti-crime, breaking and redecorating

      I've seen plenty of redecorating that /should/ be a crime!

  2. Alien8n Silver badge

    Wish I could have Canadian neighbours, would love for someone to break in and clean my house. Mrs Alien finds it a struggle nowadays and although the Podling is grown up and living at home still she's not quite house broken yet...

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Stop

      Come on opening an unlocked door is not breaking in.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Come on opening an unlocked door is not breaking in.

        "Breaking" doesn't actually require that anything be "broken" in terms of physical damage. Someone who has permission to enter part of a house, but not another part, commits a breaking and entering when they use any means to enter a room where they are not permitted.

        Scenario: Capita's Uninvited eNforcement Team enters your home to see if you have a TV, is that illegal entry if you left your door open?

        1. james 68

          In the UK forcing a door or window is "breaking and entering", entering through an unlocked but closed door or window is "illegal entry" and entry through an open door or window is "trespass" which can be upgraded to "criminal trespass" if there is intent

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Door locks.

    We often don't lock our door where I live in the UK, and I've lived here for 24 years.

    AC because although it's a very safe area, it only stays that way if people aren't aware.

    1. Mr Sceptical
      Terminator

      Re: Door locks.

      Is that because of the 'Beware of the Leopard' signs on the doors?

      Icon for any intruder's appearance afterwards ->

    2. Chris Miller

      Re: Door locks.

      We don't need to lock our doors (SE England) either, as evidenced by the rare occasions on which we forget to. But you should be aware that if you suffer a theft and haven't locked your property, your insurer will almost certainly deny any claim.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Door locks.

        Indeed, one could fit a Yale IoshIT lock and achieve similar...

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Door locks.

      Where I grew up (and where my folks still live), most people leave their front door locked, but that's because everyone goes in and out through the back door*, which is often left unlocked. It certainly wasn't unusual for a neighbour to walk into the kitchen and just shout to try and attract our attention.

      * fnar fnar.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Door locks.

        Ditto with the use of the back door. It was only once my parents were in their late fifties and turned paranoid ("all them immigrants in town, coming over here and working hard in our fields") that they got to locking the back door half an hour before sunset and the back gate half an hour after sunset. And then started leaving the gate locked during the day ("Betty down the road got burgled, you know" - Yeah, Mum, that was four years ago, when she was in hospital for a fortnight and the place was signalling **EMPTY** to the world 'cos her lad never bothered with the curtains when he watered the plants morning and evening, and Betty told me aaaall about it yet again just last week).

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    Mistakes Happen

    Here in the UK, I was told, by a roofer, about another roofer who took off and replaced the roof slates of the wrong house. I seems his clients had arranged for it to be done while they were on holiday and it was the holiday season so the owners of the 'wrong house' were also away on holiday.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Mistakes Happen

      Absolutely.

      Many years ago (1970s/80s) my Dad had a carpet warehouse.

      We had a job to supply and fit new carpets to a new-build house on a new estate while the owners were away on holiday before moving in when they got back.

      They returned from holiday and asked where their carpets had got to.

      “We fitted them.”

      “Where are they then?”

      It turned out that the builders had different plot numbers to the actual house numbers (WTF?), and we’d fitted it at the Plot number, not the House number.... Both houses were empty with it being a new estate, partially sold.

      Luckily the correct house was almost identical in size and a trip to move the carpet and underlay was all that was needed... the Gripper-Rods stayed and they got new ones.....

      While I'm at it, 1970's glam-rockers Sweet came in (at the height of their powers) and bought a load of carpet from us too (I don't think it was like Vic Reeves/Bob Mortimer's "Slade on Holiday" but would have been brilliant if it was!)

      Steve

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: Mistakes Happen

        I should have said that they had only originally popped in to ask for directions to the video rental shop, they were sure it was nearby.

        (...and that's how one of their hits came to be named. Yes - I know that early 1970's UK did not have video rental shops or that many video players either, but it was too good a line to waste.)

      2. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Mistakes Happen

        It turned out that the builders had different plot numbers to the actual house numbers (WTF?),

        Not all that unusual. Where I live they extended an existing road and added a new cul-de-sac as well.

        Plot 1 became 23 xxxxx Road, Plot 3 became 1 yyyyy Close. There was certainly potential for confusion as initially the post code databases only new the plot numbers.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mistakes Happen

        "[...] and we’d fitted it at the Plot number, not the House number [...]"

        Our street has that sort of mismatch. One block has consecutive doors numbered 2, 4, 6, 10, 12, 8. The first is slightly hidden in the end side of the block so there is an occasional query to its whereabouts. The 8 is in the other end side - and you see delivery people standing outside the adjacent doors marked 10 & 6 looking very puzzled. "You want number 8? - round that corner past 12".

        Looking at the internal household separations in the block's two floors - you can see how someone allocated numbers by putting them in a progression on the plan. "bottom right, top 1, top 2, bottom left, top 3, top 4"

        A colleague had a detached house in row built on a spare strip of land at the end of an existing street. He had the one that started from the old development's boundary. Strangely his lean-to garage was not attached to his house - but to the neighbour's house wall. It was separated from his house by his garden pathway. Any garage noise only went into the neighbour's house. This symbiotic layout continued for the rest of the houses until you reached the end one - which had a detached garage at the end of the street.

        Presumably the houses had been built with conventionally attached garages - starting at the end of the street. Then it was realised that there wasn't room to have one on the house on the old boundary. Too late to shift everything a garage width left. So the houses' legal boundary lines were presumably redrawn to reflect the state of affairs - and the house at the end had enough vacant space for a detached garage to be added.

    2. IHateWearingATie
      Pint

      Re: Mistakes Happen

      Exactly this happened to us, though it was a few repairs rather than a full replacement. Came back from a few days away to find a bill from the roofer and the tiles still broken on our roof. Careful questioning revealed that the same house number on an adjacent street had had their roof repaired for free....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mistakes Happen

      Several years ago I arranged for a local roofing company to replace the central heating's damaged ridge vent. I took the day off work so I would be able to let them in the house and get into the loft.

      About the time they were due to arrive I decided to take a "before" photo of the old vent. However, when I went outside, I was stunned to find there already was a new vent up on the roof! I hadn't noticed it when I came home the previous evening because, being winter, it was already dark.

      I phoned up the builder and they said they had come a day early and had done it all from the outside.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mistakes Happen

      Meanwhile in the US of A: http://www.kait8.com/story/38733963/suit-alleges-wrong-house-demolished-in-jonesboro/

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