Frequent Flier Miles
Karen Yeakel was a travel agent who loved to fly – preferably for free. In June 2011, her employment at Stellar Travel in Bellevue, Washington, was terminated when her bosses noticed discrepancies in their top client’s frequent flier accounts. Investigators found that from 2008 on, Yeakel had used purloined airline miles to buy 135 flights for herself and her family – a whopping $109,000 worth of travel. In early 2013, a Federal wire-fraud charge against her was announced. Turns out she had also used client credit cards to by $180,000 in airline flights – and sold them to other clients at a discount.
A Trailer Home
December 30, 2012: Gary Haines, 59, peered into the red trailer and saw no one was home – so he hitched it to his truck and drove off. He should have looked up. Unbeknownst to Haines, the trailer’s owner David Zehntner was flying his plane back to Florida from North Carolina and had decided to make a pass over his home – just in time to see Haines steal it out from under him. Zehntner called the Sheriff’s Office as he tracked Haines from the sky. Eventually, deputies caught up to Haines and arrested him for grand theft.
Six Gallons of Motor Oil
January 31, 2013: Jorge Sanchez, 35, thought he had figured out the way to beat the rising cost of oil for his oil-change business. He walked into a Costco in Burbank, California, and pilfered 24 quarts of motor oil by stuffing it into his clothing, securing the containers with bungee cords and then walking out of the store. Employees chased him, but Sanchez got away… only to be caught by police eight blocks away and charged with suspicion of burglary. Witness Manuel Atlas said later: “He [Sanchez] looked kind of heavy and out of shape.” That’s what carrying a little extra motor oil will do to a man.
Two schools in Ewa Beach, Hawaii reported weird thefts from their school bathrooms in January 2013. Thieves had ripped out toilet flushers, drainage pipes, metal floor plates and various other bathroom fixtures. To their students’ relief, Ilima Intermediate School and Campbell High School have repaired their loos. But the Bathroom Bandits may still be on the loose, so students in Hawaii should watch out before they do their business.
February 2012: With corn prices at historic highs, the picking seemed ripe for two farm employees to steal 14,000 bushels (worth roughly $84,000) from their employer in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota. But their boss Tom Vavra got wind of Arnold Schwamm and Jeana Anderson’s plot and informed the local authorities beforehand. Police caught the pair red-handed at the grain bin in a late-night bust: the thieves had already loaded over 500 bushels of corn into their semi. Both were charged with theft and conspiracy to commit theft. Schwamm allegedly told an informant his boss “would not miss the corn.” Blooming Prairie Police Chief Paul Wayne agreed “they had thought it through.” An almost perfect corn-spiracy.
September 2011: Farmers across Minnesota’s Hog Country were made paranoid by a rash of hog rustling cases that baffled law enforcement. In the space of a few months, 150 hogs (about $30,000 worth) were stolen from a farm in Lafayette and another 594 hogs (roughly $100,000) disappeared from a farm in nearby Kandiyohi County. “This is someone who knows hogs and knows the area,” said farmer Tim Waibel. “It’s not somebody from 60 miles away.” Authorities are still on the lookout for the hognappers, but the evidence may have long since been eaten with eggs.