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  1. #1
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Holiday Scumbag Foiled

    Makes you wonder what the **** is wrong with some people.
    http://www.sptimes.com/2005/12/01/So...er_thief.shtml
    Younger, bigger thief is no match for bell-ringer

    A determined 69-year-old knew his Salvation Army kettle with over $200 was going to needy Pinellas families, not a lowly thief.

    By CHRIS TISCH, Times Staff Writer
    Published December 1, 2005

    ST. PETERSBURG - Carliemar White thought the guy was either very generous or very strange.

    Over the span of about three hours Tuesday, the man approached White, a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Each time, he took out dollar bills folded the long way. He slowly slipped them into White's kettle at the Gateway shopping center. White thinks he put in about $30.

    Turns out the guy wasn't being generous at all. He was monitoring White's collections. And during his last trip to the kettle around 7 p.m., he suddenly grabbed it and hauled it toward his car.

    White, 69, thinks the guy was about 225 pounds, nearly 100 pounds more than him. The thief was in his 40s, about three decades younger than White. And he had big arms.

    But White didn't want to lose that kettle. He had been ringing his bell for more than eight hours. So he got up and chased the guy. As the thief prepared to get in his small green car, which was parked with its door open just a few feet away, White grabbed the kettle out of his left hand. The thief looked at him, obviously surprised.

    "Damn!" the thief yelled.

    White hollered at shoppers to call police. The thief swung his door closed and raced away, nearly hitting another car. A shopper followed, trying unsuccessfully to get a tag number.

    White went back to ringing. He stayed another two hours and was back at it Wednesday morning.

    "I didn't want to lose that kettle," he said. "He was going to have to take me in that car to get it."

    White was one of three Salvation Army ringers to meet with a thief Monday. The two others - one in a wheelchair, one who is blind in one eye - lost their money.

    After the thefts, the south Pinellas Salvation Army is taking steps to better secure the kettles, said Maj. Gary Elliott, the area commander.

    Elliott said he thinks at least two of the incidents were committed by the same person. The first was at the Pinellas Park Wal-Mart on U.S. 19, the second at a Winn Dixie on 62nd Avenue N.

    No arrests have been reported.

    Elliott said it's not unheard of for ringers to become targets for thiefs. One was robbed at knifepoint last year. The 19-year-old suspect was caught and later sentenced to more than three years in prison.

    "We usually have a little something like this, but we've never had three in one day," Elliott said.

    White said he wasn't rattled or scared by the attempted theft.

    A retired waiter, White said he decided last year to work as a ringer. He said the Salvation Army has helped him over the years pay the rent or the light bill if he was a little short on money.

    "It's just something I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to raise money for people."

    He tries to work six days per week, sometimes up to 10 hours a day. He sometimes dons a Santa hat.

    White thinks the thief underestimated him, probably thinking he was too slow to catch him. "By the time he got to the car, I was right there with him," White said. "I got to the car right when he did. It shocked him."

    White said the kettle was heavy, perhaps stuffed with 20 pounds of dimes, quarters and pennies. He estimates it held more than $200.

    "He knew there was a lot of money in there," White said. "I don't think it gets any lower than that."

    Elliott said the money will go to buy food and Christmas gifts for about 700 south Pinellas families, including about 1,600 children. About 40 ringers were out in south Pinellas on Wednesday.

    Outside the Gateway Publix on Wednesday, White's bell could be heard deep into the parking lot. People slipped dollars and dropped coins in the red kettle. White thanked them. Some had heard about the attempted theft and shook their heads.

    White said the incident doesn't bother him. After all, he agreed, a lot more people put money in the kettle than take it out.
    [Last modified December 1, 2005, 01:08:09]
    Now for the public service announcement part:
    "Salvo" needs donataions regardless of the season. Drop some change in the bucket. The buzz you'll get is better than a double espresso at Starbucks.
    Even better: Join a volunteer organization (ie your local United Way chapter) and use some of your spare time making your community a better place.

    Don't let the scumbags win.

  2. #2
    imminent danger
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    I don't hold a lot of truck with the Salvation Army but anyone that steals something that has been given charitably needs to be treated with draconian application of the law.

    I'll probably sound like a limp-wristed apologist when I say that they probably also need help but there you have it.

  3. #3
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
    I'll probably sound like a limp-wristed apologist when I say that they probably also need help but there you have it.
    The "suspect" was driving a late model Buick, not some ratty 15 year old Escort rustbucket.

  4. #4
    imminent danger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    The "suspect" was driving a late model Buick, not some ratty 15 year old Escort rustbucket.
    Fair point, a drug addict would never be caught dead in a Buick and kleptomaniacs only drive Japanese cars.

    - edited to be a little more objective-

    The guy is middle aged, drives a late model buick, possibly commits a series of premeditated thefts, commits them on a weekday, commits them against easy targets, only takes a relatively small haul, steals from charity.

    Even from this limited information we can build a likely profile of the perpetrator.

    If he's stealing on a weekday the guy is unlikely to be a nine to fiver and therefore probably either unemployed or poorly paid. He's hitting easy targets which likely denotes inexperience. He's stealing from charity, pretty much always an act of desperation. He's either been able to justify the action to himself, seeing himself as a needy case, believes he will make voluntary reparations, or acting under the compulsion of violence (loansharks) or addiction (drugs). Quite possibly he has already approached the SA seeking assistance and has been rejected. It's a small haul so its pretty much rules out stealing for the sake of it, he has an intended use for the money. The guy is middle-aged and these are not the actions of a career criminal.

    Personally I see either a low paid shift worker with a drugs/alcohol problem or a recently unemployed middle aged person finding it difficult to get more work and needing money for bills and the run up to Christmas.

    The point is that behind every crime there is a psychology. If you fail to treat the psychology and give a criminal record the chances of reoffending are proven to be high. Simply put, incarceration alone doesn't work.
    Last edited by The Seldom Kill; 12-01-05 at 05:36 AM.

  5. #5
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    haaha
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
    "Stop Ruining my joke!", "No, a joke implies humor attached at no additional cost"
    So many sayings, so little sig space.

  6. #6
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
    Fair point, a drug addict would never be caught dead in a Buick
    Actually he was.
    http://tinyurl.com/dbrj7
    Police are looking for a former auto-repair shop owner suspected of robbing several Salvation Army bellringers in Pinellas County.

    The search might have ended Monday at the bottom of a creek near the Hillsborough River.

    Tampa police pulled a body out of a submerged car Monday afternoon that roughly matches the description of Lee J. George, 41. Police in St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park have named George a suspect in the robberies.

    The car, a green Buick Century, also matches the description of the car in the robberies authorities said.

    George, who has listed myriad addresses in Pasco and Pinellas countiessince the 1990s, has a drug problem and a criminal record for car theft, burglary and other offenses going back 20 years, according to police and court records.

    A Tampa wastewater worker spotted the vehicle in a creek in the 2100 block of Riverside Drive just north of downtown Tampa at about 1:15 p.m., said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin. Police divers found the body, without identification, fully clothed in the back seat.

    Said St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Doniel: "It very well could be our suspect in the kettle robberies."

    "The only thing we're telling people," added Durkin, "is that Tampa, Pinellas Park and St. Pete police are comparing our notes."

    All agencies are awaiting positive identification from the Hillsborough medical examiner's office that could come today. The Buick was stolen from a Clearwater restaurant on Thanksgiving, Durkin said.

    Police divers also found a bottle of liquor and two pill bottles near the car, Durkin said. Small amounts of marijuana were inside the bottles, Durkin said.

    Detectives in Pinellas said they believe the spree of Salvation Army robberies was fueled by the suspect's drug habit. He made his first attempts at swiping the kettles Nov. 28 and his most recent on Saturday.

    "The information we've got is he's using crack quite heavily," said St. Petersburg police Detective James Shakas. "That's why he's doing what he's doing."

    When detectives showed George's photo to some of the bellringers who have been robbed, Shakas said, they agreed the police were on the right trail.

    George is former owner of Leevettes, a Corvette shop on Sunset Point Road in Clearwater, according to Pinellas Park police Detective Joe Doswell. The two departments are working together on the case because the thefts have occurred in both cities.

    George is a transient with no permanent address, police say. The suspect was driving a dark green four-door Buick Century, but Shakas said the driver appears to be swiping license plates from other cars and using them when he robs the bellringers.

    Detectives said they focused on George after receiving an anonymous tip they would not describe. Shakas said officers suspect him in a Nov. 29 purse-snatching at the Fourth Street Cigars and Martini Bar in St. Petersburg, as well as two other petty thefts in St. Petersburg.

    He is now a suspect in the thefts of two kettles on Nov. 28, another one on Nov. 30 and one more Saturday. The thief also tried making off with another kettle on Nov. 28 but the bellringer, Carliemar White, 69, chased him down and snatched back the kettle, which he estimated contained about $300.

    "I didn't want to lose that kettle," White said. "He was going to have to take me in that car to get it."

    The dimes, quarters and dollar bills stuffed into the kettles outside Publix, Wal-Mart, Winn-Dixie and other stores, help buy food and Christmas gifts for about 700 south Pinellas families, including about 1,600 children, Salvation Army officials say.

    Kettle thefts are not unusual. A bellringer was robbed at knifepoint last year. The 19-year-old thief was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

    But five attempts in five days by the same 6-foot-tall, 250- pound robber is enough to alarm the cadre of volunteer and paid bellringers who turn out every Christmas season to collect money for the Salvation Army.

    "The first lady who was robbed has not been back," said Maj. Gary Elliott, area commander. He described a meeting of the bellringers Monday morning as "a pretty anxious group," with one woman openly weeping as she described her fears.

    The thief has targeted the more vulnerable bellringers. His first two thefts were from a blind bellringer and one who is in a wheelchair.

    The Salvation Army pays elderly and handicapped people to man its kettles, Elliott said, because "that's who we want to help," he said, adding, "They enlist the public's support and sympathy. We're not going to put a bunch of husky men out there."

    Doniel, of the St. Petersburg police, said the case has generated national publicity - which has actually boosted Salvation Army collections this year.

    "We're thankful for that," Elliott said, "although we'd rather not have publicity this way."

    Times staff writers Sherri Day and Rebecca Catalanello and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story.
    Confirmation:
    http://tinyurl.com/aujlt
    Copyright Times Publishing Co. Dec 7, 2005

    Lee J. George, the suspected kettle bandit found dead Monday in a submerged car in Tampa, was in trouble throughout his adult life, battling addiction, family trouble and encounters with police.

    To pay for a drug habit, he stole from his cancer-stricken mother, brother and friends. George's ex-wife refers to him as an "awful, despicable man" who was convicted of shaking her baby.

    But after his 1999 release from prison on a grand theft conviction, the out-of-control lifestyle took a hopeful detour. Inspired by a work-release program, George opened a Corvette restoration shop in Clearwater, Leevettes. His teenage son, Lee George Jr., created the Web site.

    "Things were the best they'd been for him in a long time," his older brother, 44-year-old Dale George of St. Petersburg, said Tuesday. "He had a day job and was hanging out with the kids on the weekends. He was fun to be around."

    The turnaround was short-lived. The Corvette business slowed down after 9/11, his brother said. His 17-year-old son was killed in a car accident in Georgia in October 2003.

    So began the final downward spiral of George's life, culminating in a weekslong crack binge fueled by money he robbed from Salvation Army kettles, authorities say.

    On Tuesday, Tampa police confirmed George, 41, was the man found in the back seat of an overturned, submerged 2002 Buick Century in a creek north of the Hillsborough River. The medical examiner concluded George drowned, but the time of death remains uncertain, said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin.

    Detectives found a half-bottle of liquor and small unmarked pill bottles containing marijuana near the car, which was stolen from the Beach Comber restaurant in Clearwater on Thanksgiving Day. The car belonged to a 76-year-old New Port Richey man.

    Toxicology results will take two weeks at least, so authorities do not know how much alcohol or drugs George had in his system when the Buick went into the creek, Durkin said.

    "But all indications are right now that this was a single-car accident, and alcohol is suspected. The reason why he was in Tampa, and how he ended up in the creek, is still unknown," he said.

    "Unfortunately," Durkin continued, "a lot of the questions that we have will never be answered now that Lee George is dead."

    He was born in St. Petersburg and raised by his mother and adopted father. During high school, his brother said, George started experimenting with marijuana and cocaine.

    Records show his first arrest, for driving under the influence, came in 1983. The following year, he was arrested for auto theft, selling marijuana, dealing in stolen property and DUI again.

    "He pretty much got in trouble all the time," said Dale George, who heard about his brother's problems while traveling the world with the Navy.

    In 1986, at age 22, George met Caterina Foster, a single mother of three who soon learned she was pregnant again. George was not the father but he embraced the situation. "He would feel the baby kick in my stomach," said Foster, who lives in Palm Harbor.

    The boy was born Sept. 9, 1986, and George showed up at the hospital. "He asked if he could hold him and then he said, 'Caterina, I really do love you and want to marry you,' " she recalled. Then he asked her if she would name the child after him.

    She did. They married in November. "He portrayed the most perfect picture of fatherhood," Foster said. "That was the only good side I saw of him."

    Six weeks later, she came home and George told her Lee Jr. had fallen from the bassinet. Foster was suspicious and took the baby to a hospital. Doctors, she said, told her the boy had been shaken.

    Pinellas Park police arrested George on an aggravated child abuse charge. He was convicted.

    Foster divorced George and got a restraining order against him. But he was the boy's legal father, and his family fought for custody, eventually winning.

    Though George was in and out of jail, he managed to keep a relationship with the boy. The two got along well, Foster acknowledged, bonding over a mutual fondness for fast cars. Lee Jr. was 17 when he died in a car accident coming home from a high school football game with a friend. "It broke his heart," Dale George said of his brother. "He was down quite a while."

    His brother's drug use picked up, as did his trouble with the law. Arrests followed for DUI in Tampa, fleeing and eluding police and domestic assault, according to state records. Things turned uglier about a month ago. Dale George heard his brother had been smoking crack at his house and kicked him out.

    "When he was on crack," Dale George said, "he was a totally different person. He'd steal from his family and friends. It didn't matter."

    He said his brother once stole an electric piano of his and sold it for drugs. Another time, he took checks from their mother's roommate and caregiver.

    In his final, most desperate act, George apparently turned to the Salvation Army kettles.

    Police say George swiped his first kettle Nov. 28, from a blind bell ringer, and his most recent on Saturday. The money people stuff into the kettles helps buy food and Christmas gifts for the disadvantaged in Pinellas.

    Word of the so-called kettle bandit spread in the news, drawing even national attention. On Friday, Dale George caught a glimpse of the suspect on TV from a surveilence video at one of the kettle thefts. He immediately recognized the man as his brother and called Pinellas Park police. But by then, St. Petersburg police already had identified his brother as the suspect.

    "I knew he'd end up dead at the rate he was going," Dale George said. "He was totally out of his mind."

    Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report.
    I almost feel bad for the guy, but he made his choices in life.

  7. #7
    imminent danger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    I almost feel bad for the guy, but he made his choices in life.
    I never feel sorry for people like this. Not quite the story that I was expecting but certainly no surprises there.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Time to start arming the bell-ringers...

  9. #9
    imminent danger
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    I can see a new Angelina Jolie movie in this somewhere.

  10. #10
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    These guys are everywhere!

    About a year ago, guy that was later found to be high on who knows what attempted to carjack me whan I stopped at a light.

    Fortunately, thanks to "situational awareness" (no one hangs out at this particular intersection) and automatic door locks, we were able to easily escape and call the local police.

    He tried to jack another car while we were waiting for the police.

    Life in the city, I guess...
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  11. #11
    NEVER WALK A HILL cycleprincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
    I can see a new Angelina Jolie movie in this somewhere.
    They took her home, they took her family. They would not take her kettle.

    Coming to a theater near you...Angelina Jolie stars in

    THE KETTLE KEEPER
    Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

    T. S. Elliot

  12. #12
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycleprincess
    They took her home, they took her family. They would not take her kettle.

    Coming to a theater near you...Angelina Jolie stars in

    THE KETTLE KEEPER
    With special Guest star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of Kalifornia.

    "What do you think? Let's vote on it!"
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

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