89-year-old woman arrested for keeping a kid's football thrown on her lawn

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It seems the "finders keepers, losers weepers" rule may work in the playground, but not with the police.

Edna Jester, 89, has become something of a celebrity in Cincinnati this week. She isn't fond of kids throwing balls into her yard, and so the last time a football came sailing onto her lawn in the affluent neighborhood of Blue Ash, she confiscated it. She told the kids that they could have it, but later.

The boy, a junior high student, who owned the football told his dad, who told the police, who came over to Jester's house and ordered her to give back the ball.

She refused.
They tried to give her a citation, but she refused to sign it, and so the authorities -- probably by now wishing that they had been called in to handle something a little more cut and dry, like a robbery -- reluctantly took her to their police cruiser, drove her to the the station and booked her. Ms. Jester told them to handcuff her, but they refused. She is due in court on November 12 where she will be charged for petty theft.

The neighbor told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he told the police that he doesn't want to press charges. He just wanted the football back. His son bought it for $15 with his own money.

If things continue to spiral out of control, Ms. Jester could rot in jail for six months and get a fine of $1,000, though I seriously doubt anyone thinks that will really happen.

I'm not sure who really is at fault here, though I'm sure readers will tell me. One could fault the boy for throwing the football repeatedly on the neighbors' lawn. One could fault the father for not talking things out with Mrs. Jester before calling the police. One could fault for Mrs. Jester, of course, for taking the crochety next door neighbor routine a little too far. I suppose one might blame the police -- I don't, for the record -- for failing to mediate some sort of settlement before taking the 89-year-old to the station.

It does answer the question for me what will ever happen if a Brinks truck drives by my house and a bag of money falls out and lands in my yard. If the police say you can't keep a football, I know I won't be able to claim the finders keepers rule on a sackful of cash.

But there is another moral here, I'm sure. Somewhere. Maybe Dr. Phil can tell us. Last I read, he has been trying to get her on his show.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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