Law and Order Culinary Crimes Unit: Even More Food Crimes | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Law and Order Culinary Crimes Unit: Even More Food Crimes

What do a drunk, a blogger, a toy gun-toting thief and a bride and groom have in common?

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Ribs, a tasty gateway to moral turpitude. Image courtesy of Flickr user thebittenword.com.

Food is a basic human need and humans are prone to unusual behavior. That combination has provided fodder for several blog posts that take a look at people behaving badly with edibles. Once again we’re serving up a helping of criminal behavior involving food and the food industry.

Kalamazoo, Michigan. September, 2011. Dine, dash and defraud.

Stacy Skartsiaris, 65, had been the owner of Theo and Stacy’s restaurant for 38 years and had never had a problem with customer violence until the morning of September 1. Two women, Deaunka Lynn Dunning and Sheba Jean Kirk, both 30, stopped by the downtown restaurant for breakfast, but as they went to leave with doggie bags in tow, they complained about the quality of the food and informed Skartsiaris that they were not going to pay for the meal. Skartsiaris followed them as they left and said she was going to call police. That’s when the pair allegedly attacked her, kicking her in the midsection and striking her face, leaving her with bumps and bruises. The belligerent pair was eventually arrested and charged with aggravated assault and defrauding an innkeeper. They are due back in court on September 14 for pretrial hearings.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania. August, 2011. BYOB (Bring Your Own… Bag?).

In a push to cut down on plastic usage and be more environmentally friendly, many grocery stores are encouraging customers to bring in reusable bags. Some people interpret the term “reusable bag” fairly loosely, subbing their pants for a traditional shopping bag. Donald Noone, 65, is one of those people. While intoxicated, he went to a Giant grocery store and tried to secret about $20 worth of ribs down his trousers. He was arrested and charged with retail theft and public drunkenness. Turns out he’s also a repeat offender: he tried pulling the exact same stunt back in May. Noone plead guilty to the charges.

Patton Township, Pennsylvania. August, 2011. Something “borrowed.”

Planning what foods to serve at a wedding reception is a big deal—and can be a big chunk of your budget. One Pennsylvanian decided to try to avoid the financial burden. Married on August 18, Brittany Lurch, 22, and Arthur Phillips III, 32, stopped off at a Wegman’s after their ceremony to pick up food for a reception to be held two days later. Cops keeping a keen eye on security cameras observed the newlyweds piling over $1,000 of merchandise in their cart and casually walking out of the store. They were soon apprehended by police and sent to Centre County Jail with bail set at $2,500, more than twice what the reception spread would have cost them. Both were charged with retail theft and receiving stolen property and, of course, they missed their own party.

St. Louis, Missouri. August, 2011. She came in through the drive-through window.

At 2:50 in the morning, a car pulled up to the drive-through at the White Castle on Herbert Street and North Florissant. But instead of cash, the two attending White Castle employees were handed a note demanding all the money in the cash register from a woman who seemed to be packing heat. The two employees ran and locked themselves inside a nearby office and called police. Meanwhile the woman climbed halfway through the drive-through window to grab the cashbox before speeding away, dropping her weapon—a toy gun—in the process. Police were able to track the still-unnamed 33-year-old suspect to her home where, in a last-ditch effort to elude capture, she climbed to the roof and took a three-story leap to the ground. She was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and now faces robbery charges.

Taichung, Taiwan. July, 2008. Watch what you write.

A blogger, identified only by the surname Liu, went to a beef noodle restaurant and wrote about her dining experience on her blog. Her words were far from glowing, describing the food as salty and the dining conditions unsanitary. When the restaurant owner learned about the review, he filed defamation charges against her. The court found that the salty food remarks were out of line as she had only one main dish and two sides at the establishment. Her cockroach criticisms, however, could not be classified as slander. Liu was sentenced to 30 days in detention, suspended for two years, and fined NT$200,000 (approximately $6,900 in American dollars.)

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