Florida can be a scary place; the southern state suffers from a disproportionately high crime rate. In 2014, moreover, it contained 11 of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., based on violent crime statistics compared to population size, and that was more than any other state in the union. Considering this backdrop, then, one Florida mom’s actions actually seem all the more surprising.
Mother-of-three Lakesha Robinson, 37, is a retail worker from Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida, and in December 2016 she was attending a parent-teacher session at her one of her children’s school. During the meeting, she noticed that her 15-year-old son, Chris Salters, was using a cellphone. She knew that her boy’s phone was out of action, however, so her suspicions were raised immediately.
She asked her son where he had obtained the cellphone. Chris claimed that since his phone was broken, a friend had given it to him. At this point, some parents might have flown off the handle, while some others might have just have ignored it. Instead, Robinson decided to turn detective and do a little investigating.
It is important to note that Robinson herself had a checkered past. As a young woman, she had a party lifestyle that led to trouble with the law. Well aware of how damaging a criminal record can be to a young person’s future prospects, then, she was anxious that Chris should not fall into the same trap. She loved her son, after all, and did not want him to fall into a spiral of criminal activity.
Amazingly, Robinson managed to locate the actual owner of the phone later that same day. This local man told Robinson that his truck had been broken into the previous evening and that his wallet and cellphone had been taken from the vehicle. In addition, the thieves had been using his credit card. Robinson’s heart sank.
Still, she was able to vouch for Chris’ whereabouts the night before, so she felt that he couldn’t be directly responsible. But then why did he have the stolen item? Regardless, the fearful Robinson advised the man that he should call the police, telling him, “Do whatever you have to do… because if my son is involved… they’re going to jail, because he shouldn’t be out there doing this.”
Robinson returned home, feeling confused and distressed. Obviously, she recognized there was a high probability that her son was about to be arrested. Her anxieties were confirmed, then, when a detective from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office called her on the phone that evening.
The detective was sympathetic, but he had bad news for Robinson. He told her, “I appreciate everything you’ve done, but your son is going to jail for burglary and theft.” This was the last thing that the highly-strung mom wanted to hear, and she broke down.
Nevertheless, the detective had asked that Robinson look through her son’s things, so her investigations picked up pace. Among Chris’ property, she found bags from McDonald’s and Walmart and receipts detailing the sums that the robbed man had told her had been used on his credit card. She recognized these discoveries as damning evidence.
Robinson decided that she had to call the victim of the burglary and tell all. She informed him, “I am so, so sorry, my son had something to do with your car being broken into.” Next, she called the detective back, explained what she had found and told him she knew Chris must be involved.
Then detectives came to her house to show Robinson some store surveillance footage; she recognized her son in the footage immediately. There was no doubt now that the cellphone Chris had in his possession had been burgled and that he had been involved in using a stolen credit card.
Subsequently, 15-year-old Chris was charged with burglary on four counts. Two older boys, Alvero Jackson and Lovens Sylfroid, were also identified from the surveillance footage, and the pair faced more significant charges due to both being 18.
Robinson was adamant that although her boy had done wrong and was in serious trouble she had done the right thing. What’s more, her own criminal past made her feel that it was vital she teach her errant son a valuable lesson for the future. For his own good, Chris had to recognize that stealing is bad and such behavior could lead to more severe consequences.
Later, Robinson explained her thinking to Inside Edition. She said, “If it was me, I wouldn’t want somebody taking my things that I worked for.” Most would agree, though, that her’s was an impossible situation for any caring mother to be put in.
Robinson added, “I’m not losing my son to the system or to the streets. My son isn’t going to be a statistic… This could’ve ended way differently. Someone could’ve caught him, shot him and asked questions later.” She firmly believes, then, that her actions may have prevented her son from falling into a life of crime.
Chris was taken away by detectives and spent 12 hours at a juvenile assessment center. Consequently, you might expect her son to be angry with his mother for turning him over to the authorities. However, Chris showed deep remorse for his behavior. In fact, he was sorry for the crime, but he seemed just as apologetic over making his mom so upset.
According to Robinson, Chris apologized profusely for his actions. She told Inside Edition, “He kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I apologize.’” It was enough to make her worry that she would burst into tears again.
Nevertheless, despite Chris’ contrition he still faces the prospect of time behind bars. Thankfully for him and his mom, though, it will be in juvenile detention rather than prison. Despite this reality, Robinson insists that she has no regrets trying to teach her son a harsh lesson.
Although Robinson maintains she made the right decision, the public response has been mixed. But if young Chris heeds the lesson that his mom gave him, it will certainly have been worth it. Robinson used the wisdom gained from her own mistakes in the school of hard knocks to teach her son the truth of the old adage: crime doesn’t pay.