At what point does it become theft?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    One of my first customers ended up stiffing me last season on a $300 balance. She sent her room mate over to my house one evening to cancel the service. He said he would start doing the lawn work. Then he went on about how they intended to pay in small amounts until it was paid.

    She still owes me. They never paid a dime after they canceled service.

    She is unable to mow the lawn because of her health (she's a big fat POS). So last year, her room mate did the lawn work.

    I suspect he's gone now. This spring, the weeds were getting really bad. I would drive by this house on a regular basis. Finally, someone mowed it. And because of the crisp edges along the sidewalks, I suspected it was professionally done.

    So I drive by last Thursday and the lawn had been cut again. Like clock work.

    This had professional LCO written all over it. Probably some poor schmuck just like me when I started up.

    If I ever see anyone out cutting her lawn I will warn them.

    But is there any chance this is now theft of service? I mean, if she's got money to pay the current LCO, and string them along til mid-summer, until she's really far behind, but she doesn't have money to pay me, aren't we getting into the realm of "she has no intention of paying at all". If you can prove she didn't intend to pay, then isn't a criminal matter, instead of civil?

    If I were on the jury and I had testimony that a deadbeat had stiffed two LCO's, I would find intent to defraud. One LCO, yes, it's clearly just a breach of contract. But if there are two, from two separate years, I think I would find intent to defraud upon a preponderance of the evidence.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    brother, i can talk till i'm blue in the face, and y'all never listen. i told you what to do, screw the small claims, screw the lien, but u never listen. i proudly say THAT I HAVE COLLECTED EVERY SINGLE NICKLE OWED TO ME, plus interest. that is all, i have to say about that
  3. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 576

    The advice must of been bring the shovel with you.
  4. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    Just bill her credit card.................
  5. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    File in criminal court for theft of service.....
  6. greenwithenvylandscape

    greenwithenvylandscape LawnSite Member
    Posts: 134

    All I can say is Roundup...or get paid first.
  7. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 576

    I would just use some round-up in the grass, spell out "non payer" or "deadbeat pita" and then go after the money lol.
  8. David Grass

    David Grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 485

    Do you know how EASY small claims court is, and what a HASSLE for the individual you are dragging in there is for them? You dont need a lawyer, and I guarantee the day she is summoned, she will send you a check and forgo the embarressment of having to go "downtown".
  9. Tech man

    Tech man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 55

    You would probley be doing her a favor by killing all the grass...she wouldnt need a mow.
  10. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    As soon as she fails to honor the pre arranged payment plan it is theft.

    It was actually theft before that, but then it becomes actionable.

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