Man who tried to sell free toys arrested on separate misdemeanor charges

Crime

EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) Randy Hargrove, the man Evansville Police Department said tried to sell toys they gave away for free earlier this week, has been arrested on charges of failure to appear. This charge is unrelated to the controversy surrounding Hargrove’s attempted effort to sell some toys he got for free through a charity event.

On Wednesday, police officers with the help from Indiana Pacers Sports and Entertainment handed out toys outside the Civic Center. Then on Thursday, Evansville Police Officer Phil Smith posted a message on Facebook calling out Hargrove for trying to resell the toy on social media.

Hargrove was released from the Vanderburgh County Jail on a $100 cash bond.

The season of giving can also be the season of taking advantage. Charity events, toy drives, and food banks looking to help those in need, can’t always avoid those looking for a free handout – even when they don’t need it.

“Reselling toys is very unfortunate, but we do get it just like every charity does,” said Jada Smith with the Salvation Army.

Smith’s organization hands tons of toys and boxes of food each year to help make Christmas brighter. However she said she has seen more than one person who said they were on the needy list when they should have been on the naughty list. But since there are those who take advantage, extra precaution has to be taken.

“We’ve been told from different retail stores to draw lines, vertically, through the bar code so we do that to try and avoid resold toys and we also get to share our list of families we’re serving with all the other charities in town so we make sure that people aren’t double-dipping,” Smith said.

Officials said reselling toys received at a charity event is not illegal but it is unethical.

Suneal Bedi is an ethics professor at Indiana University. He said especially during a pandemic there’s a sense people think actions like this are OK because people are hurting and doing whatever they can to get ahead.

“People have to realize when you’re getting a leg ahead over someone and behaving in a selfish manner, you’re also harming someone. It’s not just a corporation you’re harming. It’s not Sony or Best Buy. You’re harming kids and people that need it most. And I think that’s what makes this unique and problematic particularly around the holidays,” Bedi said.

Charities like the Salvation Army said that, in the end, the positives outweigh the negatives.

“There was a lot of families that had to bring their kids with them to pick up so they always say this is Santa’s workshop, and we had a volunteer that has the white beard so he came out and would play Santa, had the big bag of toys over his shoulder. It was great, it was really good just to see children’s faces light up when they seen someone come out looking like Santa,” Smith said.

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(This story was originally published on December 18, 2020)

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