Service of a Good Appetite: Some People Will Eat No Matter Where or When

March 30th, 2017

Categories: Appetite, Burglary, DNA, Police

half eaten apple

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 half eated chocolate cakeanything 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.

half eaten pizza crustA 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?

chicken bones


Tags: , ,

10 Responses to “Service of a Good Appetite: Some People Will Eat No Matter Where or When”

  1. JBS Said:

    My husband would eat if he were a burglar. He eats from the time he gets up unti he goes to bed. The good news is that he is only up for about eight hours. And he wonders why he has gained 16 lbs.

  2. hb Said:

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The misdirection in this post is Trumpesque. I know he’s got his Russians, but this almost sounds like the ACLU may have succeeded in suborning you?

    Those poor burglars were eating because they were desperately hungry. Surely they were hardworking middle class Americans forced into a life crime by the tyranny of thirty-five years of Washington soaking the poor and middle class to make the rich, richer. The final straw may well have been the election.

    Instead of sending these poor souls to jail, the courts would do well to contract with Trump Hotels, no doubt on exceptionally favorable terms given the President’s interest, to employ them with food service industry jobs. At least, that way they would get enough to eat. Who knows but one of the more enterprising of them might go on, from personal experience, to write for Trump marketing a best selling guide to the leading American homes with well stocked kitchens.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In his case his being hungry sounds like a good sign! In the world of DNA, were he a burgler, not sure if he wouldn’t be better off carrying a candy bar in his pocket and putting the empty wrapper back in his pocket.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Your tongue must be lodged firmly in your cheek! Your next gig: Writing for Saturday Night Live?

    But your response reminded me of what I heard on this morning’s news. Mayor De Blasio is guaranteeing work to inmates on being released from jail. Before I had a chance to form my opinion, I heard one of the radio hosts I listen to object to the concept wondering “what about the people who did NOT go to jail whose job the inmates might be getting?” On the other hand, getting a leg up and earning money the standard way–by working–might do the trick so that the offenders never again return to jail.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Trump administration created a program where visiting officials from around the world and the country were forced to stay at his hotel in Washington DC –or in any city in which he has a hotel–at a premium price. He wouldn’t welcome inmates, unless they have “paid their debt to society” and leave stir with virtual pockets full of gold stashed in Cyprus and waiting for them to cash in.

  5. Tom Stier Said:

    Tom wrote on Facebook: It’s bad form, no matter how you slice it.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Ohhhhhhhh Tom, you mean eat and run?

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    As a burglar, it depends on what’s on the menu. If victim is a foodie, he’s welcome to keep all those scary looking “delicacies” which have my uneducated stomach running for its life. Much of that fancy stuff isn’t too healthy either, all of which could work towards compromising escape moves.

    Beware leaving steak, potatoes, carrots, or even the lowly peanut butter spread! I will scarf to hearts content, or until the alarm goes off……

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You’d be fairly safe at my home. I like basic foods myself. But I don’t want to write more about this now as I will infringe on a post I want to write for the near future.

    You’re welcome to my cupboard and fridge anytime but I also know that you wouldn’t take so much as one Cheerio if you found it on a counter so I think the world is safe from you as far as burglary is concerned even if lamb chops or peanut butter are on the menu.

  9. Martha Takayama Said:

    If I were committing a burglary, I think even if I found chocolate or peanut butter, I would be too frightened to touch anything! Saying that definitely does not indicate refined food tastes, self-discipline, squeamishness or good character. I just am not brave enough to contemplate eating under those circumstances!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m with you. In and out! Don’t look left or right. Who can THINK of food at a time like that?

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics