Carly Cornell, a payroll administrator in Worthington, Ohio, doesn't know who spotted her, but someone caught her commit a relatively unremarkable but perhaps annoying offense: flicking a cigarette butt from her car out onto the street, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
On Feb. 4, Cornell, who freely admits she's likely guilty, received a 'guilt letter' from the Franklin County Environmental Crimes Unit that came with a little note and a small plastic bag as a reminder to protect the environment, she told the paper.
Cornell told the paper that since the letter, she's scared to toss away her butts, because she never knows "who is watching."
Cornell’s case is a small example, but the county hopes the outcome could help combat a litter problem. The Columbus Dispatch's report says county officials hope these 'guilt letters' can be a tool in having the potential litterbug think twice about discarding their Starbucks coffee cup on the side of the road.
"Basically, what it is ... it's education," Deputy Sheriff Richard Thompson, whose name appears at the bottom of the 'guilt letters,' told the paper. "It's saying, 'If you are doing this, please stop.'"
Last year, the hotline received 2,129 calls and was able to send out 632 letters, the report said. Otherwise, offenders can face a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail, the report said.