My group played our first few games of Cosmic Encounter this weekend. We had a blast! Because we are a chaotic group of peeps, we decided to use the classic Filch flare card. In our first game, someone was playing as Filch, so we knew it was likely the Filch flare was in someone's hand. Now here's the funny part. The guy that had the Filch flare was stealing from the deck of unused flare cards! We were not watching that deck as we considered the deck to be "out of play" for the current game. When we caught him, he had a nice little collection of extra flares in his hand. We told him that we didn't think the unused flare cards were a valid target for theft, but he claimed the flare card said "any deck", so we laughed and continued to play.
Now for my question. Once he is caught, he is supposed to place the card face-up on the table. But isn't the card still considered to be in his hand? Couldn't the card be received as compensation? And wouldn't he be forced to discard it when drawing a new hand due to a lack of encounter cards?