Homeless yes – stupid no

I’ve been chuckling about this story for a couple of days now.   Still not sure quite how to frame it.

Last weekend a 29-yr-old homeless guy in Penryn, CA broke into a bar that had gone out of business.  He bought a six-pack of beer across the street, got into the vacant bar, put up an “Open” sign and began serving customers.  With that initial six-pack income being reinvested he was open for four days before the police got wind of what was happening. But at that point he had over $1300 in cash and merchandise.

Placer County sheriffs arrested Travis Lloyd Kevie on charges of burglary and selling alcohol without a license.  He had been serving about 30 customers a day the Sheriff’s Department said. 

There has been global attention on this story.  The small town residents say there has been so much publicity the bar could reopen successfully now.  The owner is more amazed than upset.

I think I see a movie and a book deal in the wings.   Check out the video linked above.

So what do you think?  Should this homeless dude be locked up for being a criminal?  Or would you give him an opportunity because of his ingenuity and boldness?  What could he have done to engage his creativity without doing something illegal?  What do you think he’ll be doing in the near future?

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48 Responses to “Homeless yes – stupid no”

  1. Peter Says:

    While I can appreciate his ingenuity and creativity, he still committed several crimes. While jail may not be the appropriate punishment, there are consequences for breaking the law. I cannot believe that he even committed these crimes without knowing that they were crimes.

    I don’t quite know what to do for engaging his creativity w/out the illegal aspect. I don’t even know if he would know how to tap into some of those thought processes otherwise. I think in the near future, he’ll be doing some interviews and facing a judge. After that, I don’t know. It’s pretty clear that he’s guilty. I could see repaying the cost of the beer plus a bit for one consequence, but selling w/out a license is another issue and I think that does need to be addressed more seriously.

  2. Josh Says:

    I think he should pay the consequences for breaking the law but I would find a way to get put in the cell with him so I could spend that time learning from him. That is what I call bootstrapping.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO

  3. GE Oakley Says:

    How is a honest man to make an honest living, OK maybe neither was quite honest. Maybe next time he can figure it out without the breaking and entering, and license issues. But this proves we should hear about him again. Let’s hope it is not bad.

  4. Noel Mcavoy Says:

    I would let the owner of the bar decide.

  5. Smoketx Says:

    Community service comes to mind as an appropriate form of punishment.

  6. Carrie Says:

    I have to admit I really admire his smarts, even if he did break the law. He reminds me a bit of that guy who wrote the book “Scratch Beginnings”–homeless but highly driven.

    If Travis can find some legal ways to put that brain of his to work…that would be awesome. He wouldn’t be homeless for long, that is for darn certain. :)

  7. therealmotherlode Says:

    Hey….now that gives me an idea….;)

  8. Mary Says:

    Somehow I have trouble believing that this is the first time this guy has used his brain for less than what God intended it. It may be the first time he got caught — or maybe just the first time somebody was bored enough to write about it.

  9. Barney Barnacle Says:

    Give him 5 gold stars/

  10. Marla Martenson Says:

    I know he broke the law, but I love his creativity! He won’t be homeless for long. As a writer, I definitely see a movie deal here.

  11. Chris Says:

    He’s got a lot more ambition and resolve than most of us. Sure it’s misdirected, but that can change!!! A little guidance and he’s going to be a success story we all wish was ours!!!

  12. Financial bondage Says:

    smart and creative. Other than the break the law part.

  13. Ricky Spears Says:

    Here is something he could have done in a similar way that would have been legal. Purchase a case of bottled water at the grocery store, a cheap styrofoam cooler, and bag of ice. Make a sign that says, “ICE COLD WATER $2″ (or maybe even $1) and sell them on the street corners where people often stand holding signs that say, “Homeless, Please Help.”

    I would love to purchase from someone with initiative like this.

  14. Frank Says:

    What he did is wrong. However, I commend his ingenuity and willingness to not sit on his hands and do nothing. What he did is wrong but no less wrong than those that take welfare/unemployment from us and are too lazy to work or take welfare/unemployment but do other non-recorded work for pay.

    No jail time. Make him work in the bar to repay the original owner the cash.

  15. Matt McCormick Says:

    Just because something is against the law does not mean it is immoral. According to the story, it does not look like anyone was harmed so what is the problem?

    In fact, if he hadn’t gotten publicity in the local newspaper, the owner may not have found out for a long time. He could have kept this up much, much longer if he had kept a lower profile.

    Instead of pressing charges, the owner of the bar should hire him on a profit-sharing agreement to see what he could really do.

  16. Hesbon kerongo Says:

    Let him live with acceptance and consequences of his action

  17. Mike Says:

    I think he had a good run doing what he did. I wonder if he could turn a profit after he had to pay rent, insurance, liquor license, hired help, taxes, etc… Makes me wonder why the bar shut down in the first place.

    With that said, I think the property owner should bail him out, let the charges drop and let this homeless guy try his hand at it the legal way. Worst case, it doesn’t work, the bar shuts down again and the property owner isn’t out anything. Best case, it could turn a profit and be an icon in that town again. I’d go have a drink with Travis!

  18. Joanne Miller Says:

    I do volunteer work in a large prison and also mentor ex-felons. I know first hand the stories about so many people who have resorted to less than honest ways to try to put food on the table or a roof over their heads. I NEVER condone dishonesty or lack of integrity. Once Dan asked a roomful of women at the Tennessee Prison for Women how many thought they were creative individuals. Most all of them raised their hands. I have to commend this guy on his creativity. He needs some good mentoring and some help in finding out what to do with it. I agree with the person who said the owner should decide what to do. Perhaps he could start with giving the guy a chance on a legitimate job. I am continually amazed at how quickly we who live in a bubble condemn those who have made a mistake and refuse to give them another chance. I see it every day. A large majority of the people in jail and prison need friends who will mentor them……not condemn them. Not everyone has good parenting, good leadership and good teaching. I will always vote for giving someone another chance. I have seen it pay off. Just sayin’

  19. Carrie Says:

    If I were the owner, I’d drop the charges.

    HOWEVER…in exchange for that, the guy would have to work together with me to reopen the bar. During his free time, I would try to help him get his own business off the ground and get back on his feet.

  20. Donna Says:

    The FBI hires people who have proven to be the best hackers….instead of arresting them.

    Perhaps the bar owner can hire him when they open again…. If anything, maybe give him some hours of community service since he did break a bunch of laws.

  21. Andy Castro Says:

    Of course he needs to be punished. Let the judge decide what the punishment should be.
    The questions should be (as you pointed out in this newsletter) what thoughts are ligering in his mind? His actions proved his thoughts. He needs to change his thinking to be morally successful before he becomes a business success without breaking the law.
    We all have success in us. We just need to learn to extract it from our spirit.

  22. KRad Says:

    He should be punished for breaking the law, but the judge should give him the minimum punishment possible, because I don’t think his motives were criminal. He didn’t burglarize the bar to steal money (I’d drop these charges if I were the bar owner and had any say in it). But he should be punished for operating without a license.

    Also, if the guy doesn’t have a criminal record, I’d hire him if I were the bar owner. He’s obviously entrepreneurial and thinks out of the box–that’s the kind of employee I’d love to have!

  23. Suzanne McClere Says:

    If I were the bar owner I would reopen it and make him the manager:) Ha Ha

  24. Michael Says:

    If I were the bar owner, I’d give him a job. He managed to take my failed business and make 1300 dollars in profits in 4 days without advertising and, initially, with almost no product.

    Yes, he broke the law and there should be a consequence for it. But if I owned the business, I’d put him to work.

  25. Earl Says:

    Definitely hire the guy as manager of the bar, put him on a profit sharing status. He probably needs someplace to live. He may be homeless because he doesn’t have the “first, last, security” deposit. Find him someplace to live.
    CHANGE the name of the bar. Capitalize on the publicity and hire a writer and agent!

  26. Jim F Says:

    It’s ironic that most people in this post say “he broke the law” and must be punished, yet thousands of illegal immigrants cross our borders every day and they want amnesty! His “crime” pales in comparison to the “real” problem in this country. This guy should be given a 0% SBA loan, and let him loose to open 100 bars! The original bar owner should be embarrassed.

  27. Jason Salas Says:

    I commend his efforts and guts. It’s a neat story, definitely not a boring topic.

    And let’s face it, they call him a criminal because he got caught. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of folks out there doing stuff like this but have figured out ways to avoid punishment. The fact that he put himself out there is (ironically) honest.

    Hopefully this is the start of a new life for him now that his mind has opened up to the possibilities. I thank him for opening up my mind as well.

  28. Faciamus Says:

    Was he being dishonest or unfair to anyone? No, of course not. No one was hurt by his actions. The problem here is the un-just laws that are barriers to entry for up-and-coming entrepreneurs like this guy. Should he be breaking into property that isn’t his? No. But, this was a mala prohibita crime (arbitrary law as defined by government, but not morally wrong; i.e. speeding) as opposed to a mala in se (intrinsically wrong, goes against natural law; i.e. murder).

    The guy’s got balls. I’m sure he’ll go far. The lesson here is that when government interferes in the free-market (by regulating who can & who can’t sell alcohol), it creates barriers to entry for enterprising businessmen like this guy. Good for him. Let the market decide who’s successful and who’s not. Keep government out of private enterprise.

  29. Charles Says:

    This guy needs to be commended for his ambitions and his willingness to do something other than sit and be a victim.

    I am amazed now days that so many people here have stated that he needs to be punished.

    Look at how much regulation and control the government puts on every aspect of our lives now.

    It is unprecented. If this country had the regulation that we now have from the very beginning this Nation would have never amounted to anything.

    It is true that some regulation is needed for safety in some areas,etc.

    However, the government has taken that to the EXTREME just like it has everything it touches. They now are regulating for their own control and manipulation and not the well being of the citizens.

    This over regulation and control is why this country is losing jobs to foreign nations as well as the reason we are not out of this Depression yet.

    As for the puishment goes. We need to take the time to select individuals that get into trouble who can be helped and educate them instead of paying to keep them up in prisons.

    I would bet we could educate at least 50% of the people who get into trouble in this country. It would cost less in the long run than keeping them locked away.

    When you are broke and you look for opportunity you tend to look at what you can start with that will bring in the money the fastest. Which do you think that would be, beer or water??

  30. sam Says:

    I like his guts to be very sincere.I see more of good in him than the bad in breaking the law…

    I think he should be encouraged to use his ingenuity for a creative course.

  31. Edward Says:

    I choose to ignore the politically-correct assignation of “homeless” to describe this or any other bum. Nevertheless, this bum showed some remarkable ingenuity and entrepreneurship in presumably striving to improve his situation or at least to further his chances for survival on the streets. Morally, the only breach this fellow made was to break into private property. The publicity and notoreity that has followed, possibly even allowing the bar to reopen, could reasonably be the offset for the unpaid rent. As far as other legal breaches are concerned, such as selling liquor without a license, this is not a moral issue but a legislated one, This whole situation is a microcosm of what is wrong with the overtaxed and regulated economy. Most people would not even dream of what this fellow did in the context of repercussions from the state. His desperation, I hope will be a catalyst for others to start a grass roots revolt against the overtaxed and overregulated society.

  32. Peter Says:

    I do appreciate his ingenuity, but I still think that he broke a couple of laws and there are consequences for that. Once you throw out the consequences, why bother having laws? I’m not advocating that he should be thrown in jail, but breaking the law (moral or legislative) still has consequences. I’m disappointed at the number of people who think that the laws should be completely ignored just because we like the way this guy took initiative. How about if he broke into a building next to a school or somewhere that wasn’t zoned for alcohol sales? There’s a reason people said they don’t want sales there. Still just breaking the legislative law, though, so it must be okay.

    What was the reason the original bar closed? Anyone know? This guy was able to turn a profit because he had no overhead because he operated illegally – no sales tax, no city tax, no license, no rent, no utilities. Yes, he’s got some creativity that could be encouraged and should be encouraged, but I also think that there should be consequences for pretty much openly breaking the law – whether or not we think it’s a “fair” law. As citizens of the US, we’re supposed to follow the laws, even the ones with which we disagree. If we break the law through some form of civil disobedience, we’re not let off for the consequences. We may appeal the case and hope for it to be overturned, but we may lose. Try not paying your income tax because it’s a legislated law that we think isn’t fair and see how far it gets you.

    Once again, he was creative in finding a solution, but the trick is now to take that creativity and put it to good use without breaking more laws in the process.

  33. Brenda S Says:

    I agree somewhat with Peter. To run a business legally, there’s a lot of overhead this guy circumvented. It’s similar to how a lot of the robber barons made their millions before regulation was in place. But I don’t necessarily think he was very creative, just willing to be amoral and take advantage of others.

  34. Kindra Says:

    I think it’s interesting how some people can get away with things as “quirks”, while others would be deemed as “pathological”. Yes, this guy was “enterprising and entrepreneurial”, but so are drug dealers.

    Does he deserve a book and a movie deal over the crack and meth dealers who figure out ways to turn small investments into hundreds of thousands of dollars of profit on a daily basis?

    He broke the law (consistently, for several days) and the possibility of him being rewarded for it is shameful! But not surprising. It happens. This society is truly on a moral decline, and I think this is more evidence to that fact.

    I also find it interesting the number of people that are so easily willing to write off his crimes. I suspect everyone wouldn’t be given such a wide berth of acceptance and redemption.

    Lots of people do little things every day that are either unethical or illegal, and they look for ways to justify their behaviors, and in this case, because he made money with his admittedly “ingenious idea”, he may very well be given a pass by “the powers that be” or not punished as severely, because people think he deserves a second chance, or he’s otherwise “too good to rot in a jail cell”.

    Just another example of both how random and unfair life is (for some).

  35. Mike G Says:

    I see this guy violating universal life principles so I don’t believe he can expect any long term success as long as he continues to violate principles. Whether he believes in them or not they still exist and I think it was Stephen Covey who said that your purpose must be based on principle. So he creates a buzz of publicity and who knows where it may lead him but I think it won’t be the will of God for his life. I wonder how many people have spent decades of their lives outside of God’s will? Dan, from reading some of your resources it seems like there are many.

  36. Ken Says:

    He broke the law and that was wrong.

    I have to wonder though, how many new profitable businesses would be created if the barriers to entry would not be so high… Many government regulations are supposedly there for our “protection” but in reality are primarily there to protect those who are already established, politician’s cronies, contributers, and just to raise revenue.

    He probably could not have even opened a lemonade stand without violating some government ordinance…

  37. Greg Says:

    Wow, when I read this type of a Reader’s Digest-type story, somehow my first inclination just isn’t to think disapproving thoughts about how what the guy in the story did was illegal, and how he needs to be punished. I think I react more like a typical American of a couple of generations ago: I see an amusing story, no harm was done to anyone, isn’t it ironic, etc.

    Sorry about the liquor without a license thing, sorry he used an empty bar to sell cans/bottles of beer he’d bought at a grocery store. He’s homeless (or as one poster characterizes him, he’s a ‘bum’) – either way, I’m thinking he doesn’t have a whole lot to lose. That said, if you put him in jail and get a felony conviction on his record, maybe you can ensure that he pays for what he’s done by making it significantly more difficult for him to ever elevate his circumstances.

    Yeah, that’d learn him . . .

    I’m what is normally characterized as a conservative Christian, but I guess I’m just not as morally upright and discerning as I should be. I don’t look at this guy and feel horrified at the moral abomination that is this man’s pitiful existence – after all, he’s not only a bum, but an evil and conniving one at that – after all, he sold liquor without a license in a building that didn’t belong to him.

    Sorry, but this story just made me smile – and I think that’s how most Americans would have once reacted to this story. Actually, I think a lot of Americans still would – I guess just not the ones who typically post comments at the end of such a piece.

  38. Mikey Says:

    Hey, Greg, don’t be goin’ all wobbly on us now!

    This guy’s a horrific monster – you can tell by looking at his picture.

    I thought he should have been put in prison and then throw away the key.

  39. mattie rainier dibona Says:

    being homeless is a really terrible thing. no one wants to trust you or give you a chance but there needs to be something in place that could intervene in worthy situations which i think this would be. i was a volunteer several years ago for a group called “tennessee support sentence group” which took first offenders and matched them with someone to work with them – you were in effect a type of probation officer. you had a responsibility to the offender but you also had a responsibility to the rest of society. there were a strict set of rules that the offender had to uphold and you met with the offender often to see how they were progressing. this was an excellent program and the offender knew that he would wind up behind bars if didn’t adhere to the rules. when i were small we were practically homeless and it is particularly hard for children. we don’t know all the motives as to why this person did what he did – perhaps he had a family living in a car somewhere and was simply trying to feed them.

  40. Chris Says:

    This reminds me of the Parable of the Unjust Servant in Luke Chapter 16, where the master rewards the servant for dishonest behavior.

  41. Njagi Says:

    Well the guy can be punished because he was caught. However, there is need to recognise his skills, ability and drive. he looks to me a perfect entreprenuer. Majority of successful entreprenuers, at the start of their business have to break law either by lowering the standards or operating in shady places because they do not have sufficient funds to meet all the requirements. Someone should see the opportunity in a posistive way. It is easy to condemn a poor homeless boy and not offer a solution for his life yet he has exhibited what few have – the drive to become.

    Look at the talent and fun it up to help the community or highlight the offence and miss the opportunity

  42. Therea Wozniak Says:

    It amazes me that people will be so quick to say he needs to be punished for his crime and do his time, etc., for a man who needed money to live off of. while we have celebrities committing crimes all the time and essentially walking away after getting their name splattered all over the news. The bar owner should be grateful, pay the bail money to get this guy out of jail and offer him a job. Sometimes we need to encourage, not punish and sometimes we need to punish not encourage (celebs).

  43. Andrea Says:

    I think he should have to pay a fine and then work out a deal between himself and the owner. While. We all need a little mercy at one time or another.

  44. Steve Says:

    The basis for all good law is “Love God, Love Your neighbor.” Our forefathers tried very hard to make that the basis of our Law. It is the basis that all law should be judged. The only victim I see is the property owner, and if he and the man can come to an agreement, the government has no bussiness in being envolved anymore. If they can’t a local judge should be able to easily resolve any dispute concerning restitution. If he can not there is an appeals process. Restitution is better than retribution.

  45. Melodie Says:

    Mr. Keane’s actions, born of desperate circumstances, were surely unlawful, yet he hurt no one and actually provided benefit to many: the owner of the store from which he bought the beer, his “patrons”, and the bar owner. Justice be served, he would be released and required only to pay a small fine for violating the law regarding liquor sales. The owner, now back in business might insist that the authorities drop the burglary charges against Mr. Keane, and offer him a job to boot (if not a stake in Mr. Keane’s next start-up!)

  46. Darren Says:

    I agree with Joanne. What he did was wrong, and he should pay the consequences for his actions, whatever those consequences may be.

    However, I don’t think he’s too different from us in that we’ve all needed a second chance at some time in our lives. He just needs to channel his creativity in a better way.

  47. Danny D Says:

    Does this remind anyone of the unwanted rogues, scoundrels and religious troublemakers coming from Europe in the 1700s and 1800s? Does it remind anyone of the Sooners who jumped the starting gun to file on land in the Territory of Oklahoma? I’m told a 16 year old Royalist was the only surviving family member during Cromwell’s purge in 1688. He fled to America as an indentured servant, jumped ship in the harbor, and his descendants served in the American Revolution, securing a family farm that supported 4 generations of Indiana farmers. But we don’t want our children to know about those things. We want them to know the indigenous peoples were oppressed and the white colonists were evil and bigoted. All true, to a certain extent. True enough, there would be no Constitution without the slaveholders because the states would not have been able to form a nation. Perhaps we can blend the old truth with the new truth and come up with something we all can live with? Is that too much to ask?

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