Scofflaw DVD Renters End Up Behind Bars

At worst, keeping movie rentals past the due date has cost only a few extra dollars in late fees or suffering through the occasional friendly reminder phone call from the video store reminding us to return the rented disc(s).  But one store in Wylie is taking late rentals to a whole new level by jailing offenders.

Court records show that at least 75 people have been arrested and sent to jail on CATS (Criminal Attempt - Theft of Service) cases filed by a Wylie video rental store.

Not returning rented goods is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas and offenders can be fined as much as $1,000.

The owner of Video Hits on Kriby Street, Mike Bell, said using the courts to collect on late fees instead of collection agencies is more advantageous.

By state law, Bell is required to send the customer a certified letter giving them 10 days to settle. If the customer fails to do so, he files the criminal complaint which has often ended up with the customer placed under arrest.

Of all the cases filed, only one person was found not guilty and another had the case dismissed, according to the Collin County Observer's Bill Baumbach.

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