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Criminal Charges, XLIII: Lousy guests responsible for credit card theft

Jeremy Simon

Hosting visitors is nice, having unwanted guests is not. They eat your food, make outrageous demands and never give you a moment’s time to yourself. And those are the law-abiding visitors.

In this edition of Criminal Charges, I’ve showcased stories of people who turned out to be lousy guests. These visitors stole credit cards by snatching shorts, posing as evacuees to earn hotel stays and demonstrating vacuum cleaners.

Man allegedly pantsed by teen girl during hotel rendezvous
A 17-year-old girl faces charges in juvenile court, while the man she apparently met for a hotel-room romp has some serious explaining to do.

According to a police report, on the evening of May 24, the 23-year-old man and his wife told local law enforcement that the man had been robbed at an Austin, Minn., motel. The man “told police he had rented a room at the motel, heard a knock on his door and opened it, the report says. A woman pushed him to the floor, pulled his shorts off and ran out with the shorts, leaving in a vehicle, the man told police,” the Austin Post-Bulletin reports. “In his shorts were $400 in U.S. cash, $70 in Mexican currency, a gold wedding ring, credit card, cell phone, Minnesota identification card and motel key, the report says.”

Since that story was so convincing, it’s lucky police have an impartial observer. Motel surveillance footage shows the man checking in at the hotel office and then walking to his room with a female, according to the police report. Apparently, the women entered the man’s hotel room, then left a few minutes later.

Police informed the man of what was on the surveillance video, but he denied either hiring a prostitute or having an affair.

When police caught up with the teen girl traveling in a vehicle sometime after the incident, she was allegedly wearing the man’s wedding ring on one of her thumbs. According to Chanel Johnson, who was also in the vehicle, Johnson was present when the man contacted the girl for sex. “Johnson allegedly drove the girl to meet the man, dropping her off at a fast-food restaurant to get in his vehicle and following them to the motel,” the Post-Bulletin reports. “Johnson allegedly waited outside for the teen and transported her after the girl ran out of the room.”

The teen shared a version of events that were more in line with Johnson’s story than that of the man. She apparently told police that after accompanying the man to the motel “she took his shorts from the floor and ran away while he was putting on a condom, the complaint says.” Allegedly, the girl later tossed his shorts into the garbage after taking $400 from his wallet and tried to use the man’s credit card at a gas station.

Police recovered the man’s things from a garbage container. No charges have been filed against him.

Teen uses gunman’s siege to steal from hotel
American teens aren’t the only ones acting up. Take 19-year-old Raniera Ropata Harris of Napier, New Zealand, who took advantage of a gunman’s siege in order to earn himself charges of fraud, burglary, trespassing and carrying a knife.

Harris was apparently near an area police had blocked off during a siege by gunman Jan Molenaar, which took place on May 7 when New Zealand police attempted to search Molenaar’s home for drugs. The resulting siege lasted more than 40 hours and resulted in the killings of a police officer and a neighbor before the gunman was found dead inside the home.

When Harris (who lived some distance from the area) heard local residents discussing how they were being sent to stay in hotels, both he and a friend lied about their addresses and registered with the Red Cross as evacuated residents. The duo were provided with a hotel room for the night.

“There they met three other associates and arranged to have rooms next to each other. At 2 a.m., Harris went to the hotel reception area and bar, where he was filmed by security cameras as he stole a laptop computer, cell phone and charger, credit cards, checkbooks, keys and alcohol,” reports

That wasn’t the first time Harris proved himself to be a lousy hotel guest. The offenses “came only a week after he had burgled the boutique County Hotel in Napier twice in one night. Both times he stole bottles of alcohol, stashed them in nearby rubbish bins and waited until he was sure the coast was clear before escaping with them,” the Web site reports.

Harris is currently in jail awaiting a June 3 sentencing and has also admitted carrying a knife in public, trespassing and stealing two cell phones from a home. Nice kid.

Vacuum salesman charged with sucking up plastic
A McHenry, Ill., man working as a vacuum cleaner salesman was charged with stealing from a home where he made his sales pitch just a few days earlier.

Alan Dufield, who was already on parole for burglary and number of other charges, was arrested for a May 2 break-in after the homeowner suspected Dufield — the vacuum salesman who had been there a few days prior, apparently giving a vacuum cleaner demonstration.

“The homeowner said Dufield was the only person who had been in his house before those items were noticed missing,” the Libertyville Review reports.

According to the police department, “Dufield gave consent for police to search his home and vehicle, and they recovered stolen items from a storage facility,” the Northwest Herald reports. “In addition to credit cards, he allegedly stole cameras, computer equipment and other electronics.” And you thought having Billy Mays push products on your TV was an invasion of your space.

Apparently, it didn’t take the parolee long to fall back into bad habits: Police say Dufield was working for vacuum company Kirby for only five days before his arrest. He was charged with residential burglary and unlawful use of a credit card.

Dufield may also be responsible for similar incidents in the area, according to police.

See related: Criminal Charges, Volume XXVI: Caught on camera

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  • Is the law against these criminals lousy too. Credit card identity theft and other forms of credit card fraud is hard to track if these criminals are professional on credit card violations.