There are some crimes you aren't aware you are committing, and we are told that ignorance of the law is no excuse, so most of us are probably criminals, technically at least. I'm hoping it's technically in your case as well as mine.
An average person apparently breaks the law more than 40 times each year, and yet no one locks him up even once. Possibly because some offences are so trivial, like using a vacuum cleaner after 1pm on Sunday, so it might be a good idea to warn your au pair, and shame on you for making her work at weekends.
Think carefully, too, before you affix a postage stamp upside down, as you may still be committing treason in the eyes of the law. And 'taking a circular saw from a vacant house' is much more serious when the charge sheet contains the words 'also a power converter.'
Many of us might have inadvertently pocketed the wrong change or forgotten to pay for a plastic bag at a self-service check-out - or even caused tree cuttings to fall into a neighbour's garden (did you use a circular saw?) - but we could find ourselves in more serious trouble if we were even less careful.
Like the Californian man who stole electronic goods then tried to resell them to the shop's owner (duh!) or a woman called Rebecca Taylor who tried to buy another woman's child in a supermarket queue. She already had 2 other children with her, which makes you wonder which other stores she had shopped in that day.
Crimes that you and I - well, you - may have committed without realising, range from going fishing without a licence (how would the fish know?) to putting makeup on while driving, isn't that called multi-tasking? And generally approved of? Some 'crimes' amount to little more than oversights, such as neglecting to inform the relevant authorities of a change of name or address. Crimes of omission, unless you are on the run from some less benevolent authority, the Fraud Squad, say. Whatever have you been up to?
Helping oneself to office stationery used to be considered almost a perk of various jobs, but nowadays when many companies are paper-free, only a letter writer would fall under suspicion of such a theft, especially if he stuck a stamp upside down on his envelope.
Some infringements of the law ought to go unpunished in view of the amusement they provide. A grandmother who defended herself from a machete-wielding clown by menacing him with a cut-throat razor sounds as if she had a few close shaves before. Equal first prize might be awarded to a self-proclaimed saint who threatened to flood a Florida beach with an army of turtles. Would there be any space for the turtles amongst the recumbent humans?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise once despondently told an alien being, "We have no law that fits your crime," and something similar is probably true of beach infestation of turtles by a saint. What would his penance be? An Act of Contrition? Or 30 days cleaning up the beach? He'd need the patience of a saint for that.
Are you guilty of committing any of these everyday crimes?
These are the top 40 'small' laws broken...
1. Drank alcohol under the age of 18
2. Sworn or gestured to other road users
3. Eaten or drank whilst driving
4. Vacuumed between the hours of 6pm & 8am on a weekday or 1pm & 8am on a Saturday or on a Sunday
5. Parked partly on a payment
6. Cycled on pavements
7. Speeding whilst driving
8. Pocketed change when given wrong amount
9. Beeped a horn for any reason other than alerting traffic
10. Been drunk on the street, in a pub or in a restaurant
11. Changed a CD whilst driving
12. Had sex in a public place
13. Bought cigarettes under the age of 18
14. Dropped litter
15. Taken illegal drugs
16. Disturbed people by ringing their doorbells / knocking at their doors and leaving before being answered (or playing knock, knock, ginger - also known as known down ginger)
17. Not worn a seatbelt during a car journey
18. Flown a kite in a park
19. Used a fake name on the internet
20. Stuck a postage stamp upside down
21. Used a mobile phone while driving
22. Cycled without lights after dark
23. Parked on double yellow lines
24. Driven through a red light
25. Not paid for a carrier bag at a self-service check-out
26. Had sex when you were under 16 years of age
27. Not had a TV license and watched TV
28. Used someone else's Wi-Fi without them knowing
29. Smoked in a non-smoking area
30. Thrown tree cuttings back over your neighbours' garden
31. Claimed an item at the self-service till without paying for it
32. Taken a child out of school for a holiday - without the head teacher's permission
33. Not informed the DVLA of a change of name or address
34. Not cleaned up after your dog has pooed on the street/public path
35. Cycled through a red light
36. Fiddled your expenses
37. Sung or chanted a crude football chant in the street
38. Gone fishing without a license
39. Parked opposite a junction
40. Put make-up on while driving