Thursday, March 30th, 2017
When stressed, nervous or sad I find it hard to eat. Everything gets stuck in my throat and I’m not hungry. That’s why my eye caught Michael Wilson’s “Crime Scene” column in The New York Times, “Some Home Burglars Want a Quick Getaway. Others Need a Nosh.”
Regardless, were I in someone’s apartment stealing from them I wouldn’t hesitate for any reason, much less grab a bite. Yet, according to Wilson, this nibbling while on a burglary job is nothing new. The paper wrote about a general’s widow in Poughkeepsie who, in 1886 lost 100 pieces of flatware to robbers who then “went down to the kitchen and brought upstairs to the parlor cooked meats, bread, cake, eggs and milk, and partook of the banquet there and then.”
Wilson reported that the city’s DNA laboratory tests anything that “can link a suspect to a crime.” He continued, “This is a story about a small and bizarre subset of those objects” some of which include, according to the medical examiner’s office, a “partially eaten apple” as well as “Sunflower seed shells. Half-eaten chocolate cake. Chewed gum…half-eaten biscuit…Chicken bones. Chicken wing. Pizza crust. Fruit pit.” Later in the article Wilson referenced candy wrappers, a lollipop and a bagel.
Police textbooks cover the subject and Brooklyn Detective Anthony Barbee told Wilson “One of the questions we always ask people, ‘Look in your refrigerator. Is there anything open?’” Barbee added that some “make themselves at home. They get comfortable.”
I wasn’t as surprised about those whom Wilson reported took the food or beverage with them. I’d consider that part of the burglary—not an example of eat and run–and not unusual. He wrote about one burglar who took watches and electronics and in a note he left behind he thanked the homeowner for the OJ.
A retired detective, Steve Panagopoulos, told Wilson that the food burglars are junkies. Now that makes sense—though I’m not sure that this would apply to the burglars in the 19th century Poughkeepsie example. “‘They don’t really even care about getting caught. Taking their time, sitting there opening refrigerators, that’s pretty crazy.’ That sort of behavior was the undoing of one serial thief he remembered. ‘He had taken out a thing of cheese, crackers,’ Mr. Panagopoulos said. ‘He left them behind on the table. That was processed for DNA.’”
Can you imagine stopping to snack while doing something illegal and dangerous–when time is of the essence–or do you lean in the direction of Detective Panagopoulos who attributed such behavior, these days in any case, to the conduct of junkies?