Good, you might think. It is about time the law got serious with nighthawks.
But no, Mr David Hutchings (AKA Coldfeet on the detecting forums), organiser of the “Coventry Moles” metal detecting club and many “metal detecting rallies” where amazing finds were unearthed, often by him and his wife, wasn’t jailed for nighthawking but for selling fake coins to dealers.
We suspect that farmer John Browning, who has helped catch more than fifty nighthawks on his protected land, will be less than happy to know that stealing from a few dealers gets you six months in jail whereas stealing from the whole of society gets you almost nothing. Certainly not jail it would seem, and in his own words over the years, the average fine given for these offences has been the same as a parking ticket!
Detectorists in general (many of whom contemptuously dismiss the recent Nighthawking Report as a gross exaggeration, a waste of public funds and an over-reaction to a minor problem) have reacted with loud satisfaction to the jailing of Mr Hutchins – since he ripped many of them off as well. Several have even voiced the inevitable platitude “Crime never pays!”
As if! It does when it’s a crime against the whole of society. Ask Mr Browning!