Crimes are committed every day by people from all walks of life and for a wide variety of reasons. It follows, then, that perpetrators wear all manner of attire, be it a ski mask and dark clothing, an expensive business suit, or nothing at all. What about costumes, though?
More than a few people have dressed as animals, clowns, or children’s characters for a jaunt on the wrong side of the law. Their reasoning is often unclear, seemingly running the gamut from an attempt at a novel disguise to the result of profound intoxication. Whatever their motivation, the following people chose to commit crimes while wearing goofy costumes.
SEE ALSO: 10 Historical Clowns That Helped Make Clowns Terrifying
On July 20, 2019, motorists in Westminster, California, were treated to a strange sight. A black BMW was trundling north along the fast lane of the 405 freeway at a mere 2 to 3 miles per hour (3.2–4.8 km/h). On the roof of the car was a chainsaw-wielding clown. More specifically, atop the roof sat a man in a clown mask and a green wig, the combination thereof giving him a vague resemblance to the Joker of Batman fame.
Police soon came to pull the luxury clown car over, but that’s when the perpetrator decided to speed up. He fled up 405 at around 70 miles per hour (110 km/h), pursued by California Highway Patrol officers. The clown drove onto the 90 freeway before deciding to make for Venice Beach down side streets. At one point during this part of the chase, he climbed back onto the roof of the BMW and “began gesturing” at the police officers chasing him.
Finally, the car stopped on the Ocean Front Walk, and the clown fled the vehicle, heading onto the beach. There, he interacted with unaware beachgoers, even stopping to help bury someone in the sand. After that, he took off his shirt and headed into the water. It was at this point that the police caught up with the clown and arrested him.
The high-speed harlequin was identified as one Damik A. Disdier. A woman who was also in the BMW was questioned but ultimately released, and the chainsaw turned out to be a toy. Disdier’s motive for the bizarre incident was unclear. His bail was set at $75,000 while he awaited a court date.
For reasons unknown, Terez Owens Jr., a 20-year-old student at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University, decided to break into a friend’s house during the early morning hours of October 26, 2014. Similarly, it isn’t certain why he chose to do so dressed as a Teletubbie.
At around 2:00 AM, Owens entered his friend’s residence in Bethlehem’s South Side, damaging a door in the process. He was dressed as Laa-Laa, the yellow Teletubbie from the well-known eponymous children’s series. Upon gaining entry into the premises, Owens proceeded to the refrigerator and dumped Chinese food into what was described as a “man purse.” He then left without stealing anything else.
Police caught up with the thieving Teletubbie, but the residents of the house didn’t want to press charges. Their opinion had changed a few days later, however, after the landlord became involved. Owens was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. Mark DiLuzio, chief of Bethlehem police, noted, “Not that many Teletubbies get arrested. You can’t make it up.”
Much has been said on the Internet of the strange things and eccentric customers you can see in a Walmart. An incident in Stafford, Virginia, stands out, though.
At 10:35 PM on April 26, 2011, Jonathan Payton, age 18, walked into a Walmart on all fours, wearing a cow costume. He obtained a shopping cart, rose to a bipedal stance, and headed into the grocery area. The cow-suited shopper pushed the cart to the milk and loaded 26 gallons (98 L). Then Payton simply rolled the cart out of the store, possibly unaware that his entire visit had been documented on surveillance cameras.
He didn’t go far. It was soon reported that a man in a cow suit was trying to give milk away outside the store. Payton apparently had few takers, though, and abandoned the milk in the parking lot. He fled the scene and ditched his cow costume.
He still didn’t go far. A manager at Walmart had called the police, and a deputy had come to take the report. Afterward, he received word of a disturbance at a McDonald’s just across the street. At the McDonald’s, the officer noticed a man who looked a lot like the cow-suited shoplifter he’d just seen on video. He brought Payton back to the Walmart, there the latter was positively identified as the thief. Payton was charged for stealing roughly $92 worth of milk, and his cow costume was recovered, as well.
On February 13, 2019, police in Sulphur, Louisiana, received a call about a suspicious-looking man in dark clothing wandering in and out of yards. Officers were initially searching for a man in black pants and a black jacket. They soon located the prowler, however, and found that he was actually wearing a gorilla costume.
The police told the man to stop, but he fled into the front door of a house instead. Officers found the back door open and assumed the perpetrator had exited there. They searched the area but came up with nothing. After determining that the man had never left the house, officers checked every room. They found their gorilla hiding under a mattress.
This time, the ape-suited interloper, later identified as Jeremie Moran, was more compliant. However, when they were cuffing him, Moran suddenly fought back, breaking free with only one wrist cuffed. He was ultimately subdued and taken to the Sulphur City Jail.
Moran was charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, flight from an officer, unauthorized entry of a dwelling, simple resisting a police officer with force or violence, and wearing a mask or hood in a public place. Believe it or not, that last charge is punishable in Louisiana by up to three years in prison. Exceptions are made for celebrations like Mardi Gras and Halloween, as well as for religious reasons.
Chances are you’ve heard about the Elf on the Shelf. The little guy is placed somewhere in the home, and children are told that he’s watching them and will report on their behavior to Santa Claus. Opinions on the Yuletide voyeur vary greatly. Is it a whimsical Christmas tradition, a callous cash grab by marketing executives, or a sinister plot by one’s conspirator of choice to desensitize children to the idea of being constantly surveilled? This is a question that Brian Chellis was in no condition to answer one night back in 2014.
At around 3:30 AM on December 19 that year, a Riverdale, New Jersey, police officer was called to a Target to investigate a suspicious vehicle. Sergeant Pat Harden came upon a gray Toyota van parked near the department store’s loading dock. The van’s headlights were on, its engine was running, and music was blasting from inside. Approaching the van, Sergeant Harden observed Chellis, 23, passed out behind the wheel. Chellis was wearing an Elf on the Shelf costume, and an open beer can was present in the vehicle.
Harden woke Chellis up and promptly received a faceful of beer breath. He ran the soused elf through several field sobriety tests, which the latter presumably failed, before taking him to the police station, where a breath test was administered. Chellis was ultimately charged with careless driving, driving while intoxicated, and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
During the early morning hours of October 29, 2017, a Des Moines, Iowa, homeowner was cleaning up after having hosted a Halloween party. In his driveway, the homeowner found a Care Bear passed out in his truck. Cody Shafer, age 30, was snoozing away in a Grumpy Bear costume.
Grumpy Bear lived up to his name once the homeowner woke him up. A physical altercation ensued, forcing the homeowner to retreat inside his house. The homeowner locked his door, but the apparently enraged Shafer managed to kick it open, breaking the lock. At this point, the uncharacteristically violent Care Bear was tackled and held down by the homeowner and a friend. They were able to keep Shafer on the floor until the police showed up, though both sustained minor injuries.
Shafer was found to be rather drunk, blowing a .179, more than twice the legal limit for driving. In his defense, he claimed that one of his drinks had been spiked with drugs. He also reportedly thought he was in Burlington, Iowa, which is in a different part of the state than Des Moines. (Burlington is in Des Moines County, but the city of Des Moines is in Polk County). Shafer was charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree robbery.
It comes as no surprise that costumed criminal activity is more common around Halloween. Amid the petty mischief and drunken antics, however, are more consequential infractions. Such was the case in Auburn, Alabama, in 2018.
At roughly 4:30 AM on November 1, an unidentified 18-year-old was walking near the Auburn University campus when, for reasons unknown, a man dressed as a fairy came up, punched him hard in the face, and then ran off. The 18-year-old was taken to the East Alabama Medical Center. There, it was found that the victim’s jaw had been broken. The police were notified, and an investigation ensued.
On November 7, 19-year-old John David Wood, a resident of Auburn, was arrested for the attack. He was positively identified as the man who’d punched the victim. Wood was charged with felony second-degree assault and locked up in the Lee County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
On the evening of February 6, 2016, a Jefferson County, Alabama, deputy was flagged down by a passing motorist. The concerned citizen had just witnessed a red Ford SUV lurching and weaving all over the road. The deputy soon caught up with the loopy Ford and pulled it over. At the wheel, he found a tipsy clown.
Joel Allan Sloan, age 51, was clearly quite drunk. He claimed that he’d only had a few drinks at a nearby restaurant. It remains uncertain what Sloan’s definition of “a few” was. The drunk driver provided no explanation for why he was dressed as a clown.
Sloan was arrested, and it turned out that he also had an outstanding felony warrant for theft. Despite his troubles, when someone at the station decided to photograph the clown in custody, Sloan smiled for the camera. Of the incident, Chief Deputy Randy Christian said, “I thought I had, but obviously I haven’t seen it all.”
An unnamed DeLand, Florida, man had dated both John Silva and Derrick Irving at different points. These relationships presumably didn’t end well, because the two tried to rob the man and burn his house down, and one of them donned a bull costume for the heist.
At around 7:00 AM on March 13, 2018, the man called 911, fearing a break-in. His home’s security cameras had detected motion, and he saw that one of the cameras had been covered with a towel. Indeed, Silva, 28, and Irving, 36, had broken into the home. They stole several items, put a pot of Ragu spaghetti sauce on the stove, and placed a washcloth near the burner, hoping to start a fire. Irving participated in the burglary and arson while dressed as a bull.
As Volusia County sheriff’s deputies approached the victim’s house, they saw a red Lincoln Navigator fleeing the area. They stopped it. Silva and Irving, the latter still in costume, claimed they had just been picking up some of Irving’s clothes. The TV, air conditioning unit, vacuum cleaner, and space heater in the back seat told a different story. An empty jar of Ragu was present, as well. The men’s cause certainly wasn’t helped by the marijuana grinder which was also visible inside the vehicle.
Back at the victim’s house, deputies found the pot of sauce. The washcloth was just starting to burn, but the fire was put out by an officer. Silva and Irving were ultimately charged with arson, grand theft, and unarmed burglary. Irving was held without bond, as he had violated his probation. Silva’s bond was set at $25,500.
On the morning of March 16, 2019, Jacob William Rogge, age 28, set out to rob a convenience store in Baldwin, Maryland, a small community not far from Baltimore. He presumably knew surveillance cameras would capture the incident, so he needed a disguise. He chose a pink and white unicorn costume.
At 5:00 AM, Rogge walked into High’s Dairy Store, dressed in costume and brandishing a crowbar. He used the crowbar to smash a register before leaving with cash and cigarettes. After obtaining the loot, Rogge ditched the unicorn costume and got into a silver Hyundai Elantra driven by his accomplice, 27-year-old Joseph Philip Svezzese. The car fled the area.
This daring escape was not to last, however. The two men hadn’t gone far before Svezzese crossed into incoming traffic at an intersection. As a result, the car managed to make contact with mailboxes, a Baltimore Gas and Electric pole, shrubs, and a boulder before finally hitting a tree.
Rogge and Svezzese were taken to nearby hospitals. Their injuries were described as serious, though Svezzese had been released from medical care as of March 19. Regardless, both men were charged with theft, robbery, and armed robbery. Rogge was also charged with destruction of property and first- and second-degree assault. Baltimore County police were able to recover the unicorn suit.