Man reports stolen car, but turns out it wasn’t stolen at all

Puzzled judge not having it, imposes fine when prosecutor suggests discharge

It’s very rare that Judge Lane Wiegers specifically asks an offender why they did it, but his puzzlement got the better of him in dealing with a case where a man reported his car was stolen, except that it wasn’t.

Michael Wallace Woodrow, 29, of Oxbow, appeared in Estevan Provincial Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of mischief by providing a false statement to police.

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On Dec. 22 at Oxbow, Woodrow reported to RCMP that someone had committed theft of his motor vehicle. Later in the day, police conducted a traffic stop behind a former car dealership, where the vehicle reported as stolen was beside the building.

Officers tried to speak to the man with the vehicle, but he took off running. Police arrested him later.

Woodrow had reported the vehicle stolen at 9 a.m. that morning.

Crown prosecutor Chris Gratton said Woodrow had no record and had taken responsibility for his actions. The prosecutor recommended a discharge in the case, which would have eventually led to no criminal record.

“I honestly made a foolish decision,” Woodrow, representing himself, told Wiegers.

The judge asked why he did it. Was it for insurance?

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to the car,” Woodrow replied, not directly responding to the judge’s inquiry.

Wiegers expressed puzzlement, saying, “You had ditched the vehicle yourself and reported it stolen?”

“Yes, sir,” was Woodrow’s reply.

The judge then asked the prosecutor how much time the police had spent on the file, and Gratton replied it was about half a day.

Wiegers asked Woodrow more about himself, and Woodrow replied he’s a welder/fabricator with a wife and four children. He’s currently taking trade school classes in Saskatoon for a few weeks.

Still befuddled, Wiegers said, “It’s a bit puzzling why you’d do this.”

He wondered aloud if this action was done in order to avoid another investigation.

Finally, Wiegers chastised Woodrow, saying, “The police have better things to do than chase ghosts.”

He went on, “It places strain on police where there’s no need at all.

“It’s important to give some consideration to the principle of general deterrence,” Wiegers said, adding people can’t get off easy for doing such a thing.

“I’m going to impose a fine of $500,” Wiegers said.

Woodrow asked, “How do I get my vehicle and phone back?”

“You’ll have to talk to the police about that,” Wiegers replied, and moved onto the next case.

 

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