Tom Green holding up fish in restaurant in a scene from the film 'Freddy Got Fingered', 2001. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Archive Photos/Getty Images
By Don Reisinger
March 25, 2016

This would have never happened in American Psycho.

A North Carolina man claims to have been arrested for the oddest of offenses: Never returning a VHS tape he rented 15 years ago.

The man, James Meyers, was reportedly pulled over by police in Concord, N.C., this week for a broken brake light. But after running his name, the police officer found something else: A warrant. Meyers’ alleged crime? Never returning the Freddy Got Fingered VHS he apparently rented about 15 years ago.

According to local news reports, Meyers rented the film, which starred Tom Green, approximately 15 years ago. After failing to bring it back, the local video store reportedly issued a warrant for his arrest. And there it sat for the last 15 years, until Meyers was stopped on his way to bring his daughter to school. According to a video he posted online, the police officer was “courteous” and explained to him that he had a warrant out for his arrest and would need to be booked.

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“Sir, I don’t know how to tell you this, but there’s a warrant out for your arrest,” Meyers says he was told. “Apparently you rented a movie, ‘Freddy Got Fingered,’ and you never returned it.”

The issue harkens back to a time when there was no streaming and no digital downloads. No, in those days, there were only local video stores (or national chains, like Blockbuster), that offered a wide array of movies and video games for your rental pleasure. Each Friday night, the stores would be lined with movie lovers, young couples, and kids, all looking to get their hands on the latest releases.

Customers could rent videos or games from a day up to a week, depending on how new they were. Late fees applied when the video or game wasn’t returned on time, and in some cases, if, say, a VHS like Freddy Got Fingered wasn’t brought back at all, customers could have their credit affected or worse, warrants issued for their arrest.

Soon, though, things started to change. Netflix (NFLX) offered an alternative to driving to the local video store by mailing customers the movies and television shows they wanted to watch. Before long, the Blockbusters of the world melted away and with them, the movies, games, and television shows that were never returned stayed tucked away in the basement of customer homes, never to be seen again.

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Meyers’ tale is a cautionary one. While the stores may have gone out of business, the warrants are left behind. Meyers is not the first person to be arrested for allegedly never returning a movie to a video store. In 2014, CNN reported that a woman was arrested for not returning Monster-In-Law, a film she apparently rented in 2005 and allegedly never returned.

Of course, nowadays, such issues wouldn’t occur. Thanks to the growing popularity of streaming and digital downloads, customers pay as they go and can consume as much content as they like with no fear of warrants.

But there’s a chance that many more people like Meyers have forgotten about those videos they rented years ago, and have no idea a warrant is out for their arrest. While Meyers may have been the latest to fall victim to the ridiculous warrants, he’ll very likely not be the last.

And just in case you’re wondering, Meyers says that the police were nice enough to let him drive his daughter to school before a local media report claims he went back to the police station, where he was arrested and brought to the magistrate’s office. He was charged with failure to return rental property, a misdemeanor that could see him fined $200.

Yikes.

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