Got An Overdue Book Or Movie? Go To Jail

City Attorney: We Will Reimburse Family And Strike Arrest Record

He checked out a DVD from a local library, forgot to return it and got arrested. Think it can’t happen? It happened to a teenager in Littleton -- and his parents are not happy.

But, in the latest development, the Littleton city attorney contacted the family and agreed to reimburse them for all arrest and court related costs as well as strike the arrest from the teens permanent record.

The teenager claims it was an honest mistake. Aaron Henson, 19, says he checked out the DVD and then inadvertently packed it while moving.

It’s worth about $30, but it has ended up costing the Henson’s hundreds of dollars and many headaches.

It was a traffic stop on Interstate 70 a few weeks ago. A state trooper pulled over Aaron Henson.

“And (he) was arrested for a failure to appear warrant out of the City of Littleton,” said Allen Henson, Aaron’s father.

Allen Henson got the call at home and couldn’t believe it. His son was in jail for an overdue DVD from Littleton's Bemis Library.

“This is a clear violation of his right to due process,” said Allen.

According the family, Aaron had packed up the DVD, “House of Flying Daggers” as he was moving last fall. The library said it sent notices to Aaron’s old address.

“He never got any of those notices or anything. He says he never got a phone call from the library, never got a message from them,” said Allen.

The Littleton mayor called 7NEWS late Thursday afternoon and said because of this case, the city will be changing its policy on overdue DVDs and books and will no longer issue arrest warrants for $30 DVDs.

Earlier Thursday the city said it tried to contact Aaron on six different occasions, including leaving two messages on his cell phone.

“The city told me on Wednesday they couldn’t remember if they had left a message or not,” said Allen.

The city said it sent an overdue notice and bill, neither of which were returned.

The city then sent a summons, which was returned.

Then, the city sent a new court date order, it was not returned. And when Aaron failed to appear for the second court date, the city issued a warrant.

But at least some of the notices are clearly marked “return to sender.” The DVD is valued by the city to be worth $31.45. Aaron ultimately returned the DVD, albeit late.

“Do you think this is a big waste of time and resources?” asked 7NEWS.

“I understand the library’s need to get their property back, but it is bothersome to me that they would go to such extremes,” said Allen. “The city attorney told me, they weren’t concerned about due process. What they were concerned about was their DVD.”

Allen is a firefighter for Littleton and said it could have happened to anyone.

“It could have been me. My own city arresting me,” said Allen.

Littleton said it lost $7,000 worth of merchandise from the Bemis library alone in 2009, which is why it says it must protect its investment.

The city says it never knows someone’s intent, so when something isn’t returned, they start the process of trying to get it back.

The city said it does have a $30 threshold. Meaning, if a missing book, DVD or other item is worth less than $30, they likely won’t take such extensive action trying to retrieve it.

The Hensons ended up paying about $460 for that DVD: $200 to get Aaron out of jail, $200 to get his car out of the impound lot and $60 in court fees.

All charges were dropped, but the arrest remains on Aaron’s record.

They are now working to get the arrest erased from his record.

As a result of Henson's story, the mayor of Littleton, Doug Clark, issued a statement to 7NEWS saying the city going to change its policy and. "We're not going to arrest people who don't return $30 DVDs."