First Case of Virtual Burglary


Dutch police have arrested a 17 year-old and compatriots for stealing $5,800 in virtual furniture from other residents in the virtual game Habbo Hotel. Habbo avatars pay real money to decorate their own hotel rooms and interact with one another. As the Telegraph reports:

Dutch police are to charge five teenagers with "virtual theft" of furniture from rooms in the Habbo Hotel, a popular networking website for youngsters.

Officers believe that the arrest of one online thief, a 17-year-old accused of computer fraud and stealing, and the questioning of four other 15-year olds represents a first for policing on the internet.

An Amsterdam police spokesman confirmed that investigations began after one teenager was accused of stealing £2,800 worth of virtual furniture, paid for with real money but existing only as images on the website.

"We are trying to bring charges of theft. It is a little difficult and new. There has not yet been a judgment in a case like this," said a spokesman.

"The furniture may not be physical objects but because it represents a certain value we think theft is involved."

I agree. They took what did not belong to them. Putting the perps in a virtual pokey isn't a good enough punishment.

Whole Telegraph story here

Addendum: Here's a link to an interesting essay on the metaphsyics of property (mostly with reference to real estate).