Salt Lake City consumer reporter Bill Gephardt found himself-if only slightly and briefly-on the wrong side of the law last week. The KUTV-TV reporter was testing the accuracy of a report that a garage-door lock could be disabled by squirting water into it. After finding an appropriate garage, he knocked on the door and found no one home. Not thinking it would work, Gephardt tried the experiment anyway. To his surprise, the door went up.
"I made a gaffe," he says. "But it had nothing to do with newsgathering. I wasn't breaking into someone's house." Gephardt, in fact, plans to replace the home's garage-door opener. Police were notified by both the station and the homeowner.
"He made a mistake, and he knows it," says News Director Bryan Shiffer, who wrote Gephardt a letter to that effect. "He was honest and tried to rectify the situation." Police and the homeowners, Gephardt and Shiffer say, are satisfied that there was no criminal intent, and any criminal charges are highly unlikely. "This should be the end of it," Shiffer says.