Cops and Comedic Capers Resulting in Head-Scratching Moments and Hilarity

(Photo courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol.)

By Stephen Owsinski

As has been stated many times before, with gobs of evidence to back it up, cops have/enjoy the front-row seat to life. The antics and hairbrained scenarios people hatch with seemingly zero forethought is enough to keep offering real-time material for the Dumbest Criminals series.

Ergo…

According to WFLA News Channel 8, in a report they titled “BUSTED!” they nailed it both literally and figuratively. The station subtitled with the following: “A 71-year-old Lakeland [Florida] man is facing a grand theft charge after troopers say he strapped a downed utility pole on [Interstate 4] to the roof of his car and drove it to a recycling facility in Tampa.” Why pick up empty aluminum cans when you can go big, really big? a certain pole-napper pondered.

Where does one begin? Well, the pole thief figured the federal/state Department of Transportation (DoT) property was worth its weight in…making his red Toyota Camry a unicorn which no one would notice, I guess. The I-4 corridor is nationally rated #1 among the nation’s top 10 most dangerous and fatality-prone interstates in America. Thus, Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) troopers are ordinarily present along I-4 (traverses across the entire state in an east/west direction) and feeds the hotel industry housing millions of folks who come for the specter of Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando.

The pole thief, Douglas Allen Hatley, somehow made it to the junction of I-4/I-75 (where I transit routinely) and onto surface streets, before actually making it to the Tampa intersection of 50th Street/State Road 60 (a stone’s throw from the county jail). Hatley pulled into a recycling yard and, upon merchants learning he had no official paperwork indicating rightful ownership/authority for the DoT’s property (they have serialized pole numbers for a reason), his metal was declined…and cops were called.

Given the crime scene being an interstate, Florida Highway Patrol troopers had jurisdiction.

Per FHP spokesperson Sgt. Steve Gaskins, troopers arrived at the scrap yard, confronted Hatley, verified the pole was government property (the easiest part, resulting in chuckles), arrested him, and impounded his circa 1997 unicorn Toyota Camry (with understandably distressed shocks and a bevy of scratches to the paint job).

Hatley was had and that was that. He scored an identical arrest in 2017 after he was charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and false information on a secondary metals recycler form, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office jail records.

Heeeere’s Hatley:

Lacking details from the actual police arrest report, I wonder how this go-big-or-go-home scrapper hoisted the heavy and unusually long metal pole to his car, making it look like a jousting Camry. No matter how he accomplished the feat, he definitely went big…but he didn’t go home. County jail had a small carton of milk and a bologna sandwich waiting to satiate his worked-up appetite. (That’s all I ever saw distributed to arrestees being booked in at the county jail when I helped fatten their roles by booking-in bad guys there.)

The makeshift four-wheeled unicorn operator likely didn’t think any of the other thousands of drivers on I-4 would notice and/or care that one of those extra-long utility poles was tooling on down the highway. Nor did his brain cells conjure the inevitability of sharp turns or close-quartered maneuvering on the byways, endangering other motorists/pedestrians.

Actually, it’s abundantly clear he didn’t really think at all, except for the route to the scrap yard.

In another twist of not-so-general criminal behavior, a young lady named “Kizzy” decided to smash the glass door and burglarize a Dollar General in Wakulla County, Florida, and enjoy a make-yourself-at-home excursion. Store manager for an hour? Let’s take a look…

On November 15, 2020, Wakulla Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received an alarm call at a Dollar General in Panacea, and were informed that besides glass breakage, they were oddly in communications with a female via the store’s telephone.

Deputies were dispatched and arrived at the Dollar General to find a male outside “waving them down.” Cops are used to potential ruses, so I bet this male was duly vetted before deputies realized he was a genuine/vital witness to a burglary in progress. Sure enough, as deputies approached the front door, glass shards strewn across the floor surrounded a “large metal object.”

Five-deep, deputies entered and searched the premises for the suspect. The law enforcement officers observed a female “hiding in the manager’s office.” She was ordered to exit and surrender; she had other plans. Realizing the office manager’s door was locked, deputies flanked and found a back door to the same office.

Then it got hairy. The female suspect found herself surrounded by five deputies and decided to morph into a MMA fighter; she got down on her back, folded her legs at the knees, and postured to pivot while on her back and fend-off LEOs with kicks. Didn’t last long as five armed deputies against two kicking legs meant most of the cops were able to get a hand on her and, despite resisting, safely handcuff the midnight marauder. Why do I say that? Well, seems the burglar had a bout with the munchies, and that factor surfaced after crime scene techs (CSTs) were summoned to help cull evidence on scene.

Let’s go to the tape! Deputies and CSTs had a movie moment loaded with comedy when they watched store surveillance footage depicting the suspect, identified as Kizzy Sharpe, breaking the glass, entering the store, and helping herself to two Gatorades which she downed as if she just walked off the Sahara Desert. Why was Kizzy so parched?

Deputies found the answer right on Ms. Sharpe’s person: “small plastic baggies containing a substance which field tested positive [via small NIK test kits cops use right on scene to determine illegal narcotics] for methamphetamine.” You see, “methamphetamine causes dry mouth, which results from a reduced flow of saliva.

Continuing with the Dollar General drive-in (private showing for LEOs), deputies watched Kizzy prance around the store and focus on the tobacco display cases, which she failed to access. Some people whistle while they work; seems Kizzy preferred to smoke while she burglarized.

And that unquenchable thirst persisted. Kizzy walked over to the beer cooler and helped herself to a case of 15 brewskies. But that is when the alarm company called the store, and Kizzy somehow had the nonchalance to answer…as if she owned the joint. Can only imagine the context of that conversation.

The filmed saga started to come to a conclusion. Kizzy hung up the phone. Her comfy run of the store somehow led her to the manager’s office where she popped the tab of a can of beer and guzzled. (Although the police report doesn’t state she put her feet up on the desk, that is the vision I have of this scene/moment…until LEOs arrived to crash Kizzy’s party, yanking the snack bag of Funyuns from her crunching mouth.) It was mere moments later when the thirst-quenching burglar was confronted by deputies and exhibited her MMA (ahem) skills, to no avail. Off to county jail for Kizzy:

(Mugshot courtesy of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office.)

In Kizzy’s case, she was observed by a witness whose attention was captivated when she was loitering around the closed business. Sometimes that happens and Good Samaritans go the distance and do the right thing: “See something, say something.” This citizen called police based on suspicions and outright crime being committed right before his eyes.

When I worked the midnight shift beat years ago, it was common for night-owl newspaper delivery drivers to be the other cars (besides police cruisers) on the mostly quiet streets; hence, they would make observations and call our dispatch center with leads. Like cops, these news hawks knew when things were out of order…and acted upon it by summoning us.

For her role, Kizzy was apparently higher than the proverbial kite and either didn’t even notice a witness nearby or just didn’t really care. Who else would answer the phone at an establishment they are burglarizing?

Just think: We’d lose out on all these stupid shenanigans (and prices at retailers would soar because of unabated thievery) if police defunders/abolitionists get their way.

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