Hey, Those Are My French Fries; You’re Under Arrest
September 15, 2016 (Fault Lines) —Ever have an unwanted guest try to flirt or strike up a conversation in the middle of your dinner? It’s annoying. Have you ever run into that obnoxious restaurant guest who just couldn’t resist trying something off your plate? Even more annoying! In addition to asking the guest to back off, you might even notify management. But there’s probably little that would come of it. Sure, you might get your dish replaced or your meal comp’d, or maybe you’d just pay your tab and find some other place to spend your evening.
Not if you’re a Washington D.C. cop. You get to do something real about it. You can make an arrest. You can file criminal charges. And that’s exactly what a D.C. cop did when a woman sat down, struck up a conversation, and proceeded to nibble on his french fries. The 26-year-old woman was arrested for second-degree theft:
The listed offender appropriated the listed property without the consent of the listed complainant.
The report also listed the stolen property as “French Fried Potato . . . quantity 3.”
Now, let’s be clear: that’s not 3 potatoes but rather 3 fries. To be fair, the officer did warn her after she ate the first fry. Apparently, the woman sat down to strike up a conversation with the officer. Maybe she was a little too flirty? Maybe he is married and was offended?
After all, most police officers are annoyed by all those badge bunnies hanging on their every word and making unwanted advances. And, they certainly don’t want to mix and mingle and engage in small talk while grabbing a quick bite. Despite the warning, she proceeded to sample yet another fry. Now, it’s unclear whether he attempted to move his plate from her reach or otherwise protect his fries. The officer again asked her to stop:
I then politely asked D-1 to not do that again because I paid for that food and she was stealing from me and she could be arrested for theft of my food.
Likely pushing the flirtation a bit too far, the woman told the officer, “Well then you might as well take me to jail,” as she reached over to take a third fry. The officer made good on her invitation and promptly arrested her. What else is a cop to do?
Cops have all the fun power. They decide who goes to jail, especially when they have become annoyed victims of crime. They don’t even have to call the police, make a report, and wait for an arrest. They just jump right in as both the complainant and the arresting officer. It’s so much easier after all. Plus, it’s not like a cop would lie or embellish, right? They can be trusted to investigate and report their own victimization.
No need to try and de-escalate this situation. After all, the officer had it all under control. He was going to show her who’s the boss. She’s just lucky she didn’t suffer the ramifications for pissing off the police.
Fortunately for the officer, Washington D.C. takes its thefts seriously. Theft in the second degree encompasses the taking or using of property if that property obtained or used has some value.* It’s also punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for not more than 180 days, or both.**
Clearly, the appropriated french fries have value. A quick review of the Italian Pizza Kitchen’s menu places the coveted oven-baked Italian fries at $3.49. Now, of course, that’s for a whole order as they don’t appear to sell the fries individually. But still, there’s “some value” in three fries. Maybe as much as 50 cents, assuming about 20 fries in an order. And there you have it, that’s a second degree theft.
Thankfully, as one commenter at the Washington Post opined, it was only french fries – imagine what would have happened if a doughnut had been involved.
*D.C. Code § 22–3211
** D.C. Code § 22–3212