Sneak Thief Steals Change From Queens Ice Cream Trucks

mister-softee1His smile never wavers above his bright red bow tie. This is not a serious man — he has an ice cream cone for a head. And yet in the cheery world of Mister Softee, there are rules.

  • Do not sell ice cream on another Mister Softee truck’s route.
  • Do not play the music constantly. Turn it off while you’re idling.
  • If the machine acts up and pumps too much ice cream onto a cone, do not serve it. Other kids will notice and want a big one, too.

And as of this month, a new rule at a Mister Softee truck lot in Queens: Do not leave your bank of quarters and bills locked in the truck overnight.

It changed what had been standard operating procedure at a Mister Softee parking lot in South Ozone Park for as long as any of the drivers could remember. The place seemed very secure, with cameras, a tall fence and locks on the gate. And the trucks parked there must have looked worthless to a passing thief. What are you going to steal from an empty Mister Softee? Sprinkles?

Drivers routinely hid rolled bundles of quarters and sometimes more in the nooks and crannies of the trucks’ crowded interiors. It was easier than lugging the change home every night. They never had a problem, until April 4, when somebody entered the lot and forced open the service windows of a dozen or so Mister Softee trucks. The thief took hundreds of dollars in coins and bills, the police said.

The Mister Softee drivers arrived for work the next morning to find their trucks damaged and money gone. Out of work for a day of repairs, they became a team of amateur Detective Softees, swapping theories.

The culprit appears on a snippet of video to be a man, the drivers said. He probably climbed on top of a neighboring house and dropped over the fence into the lot.

“The guy was smart,” said Harish Kumar, 52, the lot’s owner.

Mr. Kumar bought the property in 1990 and cleaned it up. A Mister Softee driver lived down the block.

“He asked my husband, ‘Why don’t you make a parking lot for Mister Softee?’ ” said Mr. Kumar’s wife, Iman Khan. He agreed, and ended up buying four trucks himself. His children and relatives now work there, driving trucks, and Ms. Khan oversees the supply of ice cream mix, cones and other ingredients that are sold to the drivers.

Mr. Kumar knows every inch of his lot and his trucks. And so, it seems, did the thief. “He went behind the trucks,” Mr. Kumar said, “so the camera would not see him.”

The thief spent a couple of hours in the lot, going methodically truck to truck. “He got $700 from those three trucks,” Ms. Khan said, pointing, “350 from that truck.”

One veteran driver of 32 years, Henry J. Murphy Sr., 52, was one of the victims. He kept $200 or so in a cabinet that looks like a freezer, with a thermometer on the door.

“Only someone who knows the business would know,” he said.

“A guy who used to work with Mister Softee,” Mr. Kumar added.

So far, no arrests.

Mr. Murphy has been selling ice cream on his route in Jamaica for so long that, when a little girl appeared at his window, he remembered her father as a boy at that age. He earned enough to raise four children in East Elmhurst, Queens, he said. He graciously allowed a visitor to turn on the music for a minute and cross one more thing off a bucket list.

“That music,” he said, “has made me so much money.”

He works his route the way a doctor makes hospital rounds, parking outside a Catholic School on Parsons Avenue just before dismissal, where children lined up five-deep on Thursday. He worked without pause for half an hour before moving on to a playground. Then another school. He greeted many parents by name.

“It’s not just the face on the truck,” he said. “It’s the face behind the truck.”

The thief has not returned, but he may have struck again. A masked intruder broke into several Mister Softee trucks parked at a larger lot in Queens Village two weeks later. The drivers there kept only loose change in the trucks, but still, they were cleaned out, a manager said.

An Ozone Park driver just shook his head and said, “People will do anything for a buck these days.”

Man Lives Up to Last Name After ‘Ham’burglary at Supermarket

brandon-hammondHASTINGS, Mich. – (April 22, 2014) – The following news release was sent to FOX 17 Tuesday from the Hastings Police Department:

 On April 17, 2014, Hastings Police responded to the Family Fare grocery store to a reported retail fraud. Hastings Officers were informed by the store employees that a male subject had stolen $182.15 worth of merchandise which included two hams and 17 blocks of cheese. Hastings Officers located a subject matching the description of the suspect and identified that person as BRANDON ALAN HAMMOND , 33 years old of Hastings. HAMMOND admitted to Officers that he had taken the items from the store but had planned to pay for them. Hastings Officers placed HAMMOND under arrest and lodged him at the Barry County Jail for retail fraud.

On April 16, 2014, Hastings Police was contacted by Family Fare grocery store about a retail fraud involving over $300 worth of merchandise. Hastings Police were informed that a male subject entered the store at approximately 3:25am, filled a couple of grocery baskets full of merchandise which included blocks of cheese, alcohol, sausage and magazines and attempted to leave the store. Hastings Officers were informed that as the male subject was leaving the store he fell and spilled the stolen merchandise. Hastings Officers were given the name of the suspect and the investigation is ongoing.

Two Charged With Cathedral City Cheese Thefts from Co-op

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The case against two men accused of stealing food from the Co-op on Princess Drive, Grantham, has been put back to May 12.

Paul Andrew Kavanagh, 32, of Kinoulton Court, Grantham, and Andrew David Robinson, 26, of Water Lane, Ancaster, both pleaded guilty to five counts of theft from the store in February at an earlier hearing.

They are accused of stealing 10 packs of Cathedral City cheese worth £25 on February 17, stealing a quantity of cheese also on February 17, stealing food worth £33.24 on February 19, stealing four packets of cheese worth £22.50 on February 23 and stealing two joints of meat worth £25 on February 26.

Both men are on bail on condition they do not enter either of the Co-op stores on Princess Drive and Dysart Road, and attend probation appointments.

Ice Cream Truck Turf War Breaks Out on Easter Morning

ice_cream_truck_xlargeST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – There’s a turf war going on in one north St. Louis County neighborhood and it’s over ice cream.  Authorities say an ice cream truck turf war turned criminal on Easter morning.

It happened  on Parker Road near Highway 367 when police say one ice cream truck operator was cut off by another who allegedly threatened him.

Witnesses say the second driver then started damaging the first driver’s truck, music siren and merchandise. The driver of the damaged truck says he’s had the same route for seven years and the second driver wanted to take over his route.

But the real kicker here is that both drivers work for the same company. The victim says he plans on keeping his route and that other driver may lose his job.

NOTE: Thanks and a tip of the hat to Kat Bennett!

Easter Butter Lamb Gets ‘Pardon’ From New York Politician

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There’s at least one butter lamb in Buffalo that won’t be going under the knife this Easter.

Butter sculptures in the shape of a lamb are a traditional part of Easter meals among Buffalo’s large Polish-American population. Butter lambs are sold this time of year at western New York delis, Polish markets and supermarkets.

On Wednesday, an elected official went to Buffalo’s Broadway Market to “pardon” a butter lamb, much in the way U.S. presidents issue pardons for a turkey before Thanksgiving.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz pardoned a butter lamb from its traditional duties on tables throughout the Buffalo area for the duration of Easter. Polish immigrants brought the butter lamb tradition with them when they came to America and settled in large numbers in upstate New York cities such as Buffalo and Schenectady.

 

Man Arrested After Pouring Milk on Himself in Convenience Store

Meth+MilkSPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Authorities said a man was arrested at a convenience store in Spokane Valley after yelling at a clerk and pouring milk on himself.

Spokane Valley deputies were called to the HICO Convenience Store on East Sprague Sunday around 5 p.m. Reports said the man was yelling that he had lead poisoning and began pouring soda on the counter. When the deputy arrived, he saw Steven Devitt Jr., 24, pouring a half gallon of milk all over himself.

The clerk told authorities that Devitt walked in and immediately began yelling that he had lead poisoning. He said Devitt was sweating and acting very erratic. Devitt then took a soda from a cooler and walked up to the counter and poured it all over the floor and counter.

While the clerk called 911, Devitt opened a half-gallon of milk, drank some of it and began walking around the store as he poured it on the floor. Deputies found a baggie of a crystalline substance that later tested positive for methamphetamine in Devitt’s pants pocket. A small gray box containing drug paraphernalia and small container of marijuana was also found.

Devitt was booked into the Spokane County Jail for felony Possession of a Controlled Substance, misdemeanor Third Degree Theft and Third Degree Malicious Mischief. Deputies also received a separate report from another victim that Devitt broke the windshield of a vehicle at Winco Foods. The victim declined to pursue charges for the damage.

 

Woman Says She ‘Can’t Remember’ Topless McDonald’s Ice Cream Rampage

Sandra_Suarez

Sandra Suarez caused quite a ruckus at a Pinellas Park, Fla., McDonald’s in late March. But she likely didn’t expect the incident to become a viral moment shared by thousands online.

On March 24, Suarez, 41, was arrested by Pinella Park police after she went on a destructive rampage at her local McDonald’s, reports Tampa Bay’s WTVT. Video footage of Suarez, which was later posted to LiveLeak.com, shows the woman’s three-minute topless flip-out in the fast-food restaurant. Suarez can be seen knocking over registers, emptying a cabinet onto the floor and destroying assorted equipment. She even takes a moment to eat a little soft-serve ice cream.

According to officers, Suarez began her attack after an employee of the restaurant turned down her offer for oral sex in the McDonald’s parking lot. They added that she was taken to Northside Hospital, but doctors revealed she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Suarez was charged with criminal mischief and resisting arrest. She was released on $7,000 bond.

The mother of two told WTVT that the episode was caused by her bipolar disorder and that she doesn’t recall much of what happened. A 15-year resident of Florida, Suarez also said that she is considering bringing her children back to her native Colombia if they encounter any issues from her now-viral moment.

According to Juan Illas, the restaurant’s owner and operator, the employees who uploaded the video to LiveLeak.com have been fired.