Teens convicted of virtual theft

Two Danish Dutch teenagers were convicted of virtually roughing up a classmate in the multiplayer online game RuneScape and stealing some virtual goods from him. From the Associated Press:
"These virtual goods are goods (under Dutch law), so this is theft," the court said on Tuesday in a summary of its ruling...

The 15-year-old was sentenced to 200 hours service, and the 14-year-old to 160 hours.
"Teens convicted of virtual theft"


  1. So… then if I’m Dutch I can sue RuneScape and win if they ever accidentally delete my account and didn’t have a backup?

    What if RuneScape goes out of business. They are depriving me of access to my goods.

  2. man i still remember the time i accidentally deleted a friends character. luckily it was an accident, so i was only convicted of manslaughter and my charisma rating got me out on parole early.

  3. Please note that Denmark and The Netherlands are 2 seperate countries, we don’t even border on eachother.

    The kids were indeed Dutch, the trial was held 2 days ago in Leeuwarden. The case was about an amulet and a mask.

  4. And what happens if I con you out of a piece of real estate in Monopoly?

    Also, if these ‘virtual’ goods are the same as real goods, what if someone is playing on a PVP server and they get fragged… is that ‘murder’?

    Honestly… the kid was a sucker for sending the other classmates items. End of story. Unless there is a Dutch Law for being played…

  5. How can meatspace theft and harassment laws apply in an environment where there exists magic and homicide is within the game rules? Maybe there is no Player Vs Player in RuneScape?

    Does RuneScape have a thief/rogue player class? If the game allows you to be a thief… and you steal something… and the you get sentenced to community service… head exploding

  6. Damn, I’m lucky they didn’t do a background check on me when I visited Holland. I have a rap sheet a mile long in Liberty City.

  7. Man. . . if they ever find out about all the stuff I did in Grand Theft Auto, I’m a dead man.

    Maybe the judge will show leniency when I point to all the cities I saved when I was playing Missile Command.

  8. Perhaps the intimidation and coercion took place in meatspace… if they bullied him into handing his stuff over in the real world I can understand the judge’s sentence.

  9. Everybody who is thinking this all took place inside runescape:

    The victim was in fact beaten up in meatspace. They forced him to sign in to his account and send them the items. So yes, meatspace laws do apply.

  10. You know what, if you commit some sort of ‘crime’ in a virtual world, the punishment should at all time just be in the virtual world itselF, easy.

  11. Danish and Dutch… tsk tsk… but okay.

    The problem was that the 2 kids beat the victim up and threatened him with some more (in real life) if he did not send those goods to them.
    So the virtual goods were stolen in this way.
    And in this case: goods are goods.
    Think abou your bankaccount online… you wouldn’t be pleased if you got beaten up by 2 bullies telling you to send them your online cash.

  12. like jornt above said, Denmark and the Netherlands are two different countries, perhaps you could change this as it might cause confusion.

  13. ya’ll just got a thing against duth people here ain’t ya? it’s like they don’t exist to you :o\

  14. Runescape has PVP and pickpocketing.

    IMO, since there was a meatspace crime involved, they should have just left the theft charge off, and dealt with the fact that these kids beat and bullied the victim

  15. #10 & #12, do you guys have a link to an article that confirms the kid was assaulted/coerced in the real world? The linked one above doesn’t really specify one way or the other, it simply says “coerced” and doesn’t specify how or where.

  16. Some minor errors remain:

    “Two X-Danish-X (Dutch) teenagers were convicted of X-virtually-X (physically) roughing up a classmate in the multiplayer X-online-X (offline) game X-RuneScape-X (Real Life) and stealing some virtual goods from him.”

    In general, when a legal ruling reported on the interwebs seems too crazy to be true, it usually is.

  17. Thanks Carborundum, the AP article was pretty lacking, the real world assault vs virtual coercion is an important distinction. In that case, all of Dewi Morgan’s suggested revisions would be needed!

  18. Terrible translation Google – here’s mine. For the original, see my post above.

    The Friesland police arrested two boys, 14 and 15, in Leeuwarden last Friday for an assault on a 13 year old boy from the same town. The reason behind the attack; the login details of the victim’s Runescape account. The victim had built up a large account and the two other boys, also players, wanted it.

    While the victim was out walking in the town last Thursday he was taken to the hiome of one of the attackers. Once there, he was kicked, beaten and threatened with a knife until he had given control of his account to the two boys. The two have since confessed to the police.

    The Fries police has said that this case is not an isolated incident and that such things happen across the whole country. Lack of authority from parents and schools, combined with a large measure of anonymity seems to encourage young people to ‘cross the line more easily’ according to a Police spokesman.

  19. Cheers Sepptb, I agree. The word ‘virtual’ before ‘roughing up’ needs to go immediately. Something like
    “Two Dutch teenagers were convicted of roughing up a classmate and fellow player of the multiplayer online game RuneScape and coercing some virtual goods from him.”

    would cover it. Like I said, I live there and also teach in secondary school – my students are all avid Runescape fans (they’re young) and shocked that someone would go this far.

  20. To echo what a previous poster wrote, I’m also in the middle of Halting State by Charlie Stross. This incident is similar to the plot in basic concept; same church, different pew.

  21. I thought Runescape had totally deleted the Wilderness/PKing.

    Makes me fond for when I used to play it. Damn Jagex for deleting my account I’d worked on for years after a month of inactivity. Can I sue for THAT?

  22. This is bullshit. We need our playgrounds for theft. Otherwise, we’ll sublimate in other ways or resort to theft in real life.

  23. Eh… What about say EVE Online, then? As long as you use in-game mechanics you are allowed, nay even encouraged, to steal/fraud/shoot down other players (there are consequences for shooting down players when you’re in the “wrong” place but it’s always *possible*). There’s something about EVE. :)

    And, yeah, the bit talking about the teens roughing up the victim in real life to make him hand over the items in-game seems somewhat important here.

  24. Wow, over a hundred hours of community service issued out for two kids that tricked some moron over the internet into giving them something that is immaterial, wow, is this actually real, am I missing something here?

  25. This is the second, virtual crime posted. It feels like that Tom Cruise movie with the pre-cogs.
    Any, wouldn’t think the virtual crime should be taken to virtual court? Also the sentence should be carried out by the virtual character?
    Do I need to get a virtual lawyer?

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