One of the common bits of gallows humor among prosecutors is “Thank God for dumb criminals, they’re the ones that keep us employed.” Bank robbers have been known to write stick-up notes on their own deposit slips. DWI defendants commonly tell police officers “I’m too drunk to do those sobriety test thingys.” Still, there are the occasional police reports that stop me dead in my tracks and make me wonder- “Wait. What the hell is going on here?” My very first trial was like that. The defendant was charged with Theft of Property, $50 - $500. Not such an unusual charge, in and of itself. But…
About 1 AM, a DPS Trooper happens to be driving on one of our smaller state highways just outside the city limits, when he sees a van stopped in the bar ditch with someone standing next to it. Thinking someone’s broken down late at night, he pulls over to help. As he stops, someone wearing camouflage runs away from the van, across a pasture, into the brush, and disappears. A woman standing by the van stays put, caught in the act of loading a 40 pound bag of dog food into the van. There’s one bag of dog food already in her van, one at her feet, 8 more by the fence line, and 4 more in the bed of a pickup. A county owned pickup, parked on the wrong side of the fence line. The Trooper detains the woman, and his partner follows the tire tracks from the pickup into the field, through some brush, across a ditch, through a now-broken fence and… into the yard of the county dog pound.
The tire tracks lead to the back door of the dog pound, which has been forced open. There are a few other pickups matching the county truck that are parked in a row at the end of the yard. A row with an empty parking spot. None of this makes a damn bit of sense to the Trooper, but it’s now obvious that the truck was stolen, loaded up with dog food, driven through a fence, through a pasture, through some brush, along the bar ditch, and to the woman waiting with her van to load up the dog food. But wait! The dog pound just installed security cameras, surely that will explain what’s going on!
Camera 1, outside the building, records nothing but stars after the perp pushes it up to the heavens with a broom handle. Camera 2 records nothing after the perp *breaks* it with a broom handle. Camera 3 is inside the building, and well hidden. It records someone dressed up like a ninja, complete with headscarf, crouching on his heels, and crab walking through the building between the cages. Then he tries to steal a dog. Well, he tries to steal a pit bull while crouched down, holding a handful of dog food. Although he escapes with his hands, he is unsuccessful. Then he crawls away, never to be seen again. To this day I still have NO idea who that guy was.
The woman that gets arrested for theft of dog food sure isn’t telling either. In fact, despite being caught literally holding the bag, she pleads not guilty and goes to a bench trial. After the judge delivers her guilty verdict I find out why, as defense attorney discloses that she’s on felony parole for drug trafficking. So for her role in the great dog-food caper of 2009, the defendant spends 60 days in jail as a guest of our county, and 7 year in jail courtesy of federal parole revocation.
Sleep well, Texans. Your dog food is safe tonight.