Mimesis Law
27 June 2017

Stephen Schulz and Donte Harris’s Typical Crime

February 8, 2017 (Fault Lines) — What the media chooses to report, and how it chooses to report it, is a real mystery.  Take this headline, for instance:

2 Metairie teens arrested in Baton Rouge motorcycle shop burglary

There must not be much going on in Baton Rouge. That much is clear from the facts of this obviously very, very serious case:

Detectives from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office told JPSO’s auto theft unit they were investigating a business burglary where eight motorcycles were taken from Friendly Honda Yamaha, the report said. Baton Rouge authorities said a black Mercedes registered to a Metairie address was at the scene of the burglary with a U-Haul rental vehicle.

Baton Rouge detectives told JPSO they passed by the Metairie address and saw what appeared to be the same Mercedes and U-Haul, the report said. Investigators with both departments located the homeowner on Jan. 31 and obtained consent to search the residence and U-Haul. The report said three motorcycles were found in the U-Haul’s storage area.

Authorities confirmed the motorcycles, valued at $20,485, were the from the batch stolen in Baton Rouge, the report said. The homeowner told authorities the Mercedes belonged to their son, Schulz, who was on the scene at the time. The report said Schulz admitted to committing the burglary and named Harris and another person as accomplices.

Based just on the name, “Friendly Honda Yamaha” sounds like a pretty sympathetic victim. Lucky for them, the perpetrators suck at crime and got caught in record time. Sadly, they didn’t get all of their motorcycles back right away.

The people who actually steal property are often terrible at their jobs, but the people who get them after they’re stolen sometimes run a pretty tight ship. They have a market for the stolen property. They have customers, or at the very least a place to store the items and contacts who will take it off their hands. It’s also a tough gig because their sources for stolen property are unreliable, to say the least. The sources are prone to tattle, and police are sometimes willing to cut them a break if they can provide the police with a bigger player in the overall scheme.

Here, either the kids tossed five bikes and kept their favorites, or they only found a market for five bikes. One of the most frustrating thing about theft cases can be how valuable the property is to the rightful owner, like a motorcycle dealer who just lost eight valuable pieces of inventory, and how the people taking it so often damage or destroy it for no reason. That happens most often when the people taking the stuff are teenagers. The situation is no less crappy, but a lot more understandable, where someone who eventually gets the stolen stuff at least makes a little money from it.

Even though every bike wasn’t recovered, this was probably an incredibly satisfying investigation for the police. They put a black Mercedes registered to a Metairie address at the scene of the burglary along with a U-Haul rental vehicle. Cops went to the address and saw both vehicles. The homeowner let them look around, and they found some of what was stolen. The same person said the Mercedes was Schulz’s, and Schulz turned out not just to confess, but to rat out his friends too.

Just like how the five missing bikes seems to suggest the bikes were stolen as part of a larger scheme, the fact that Schulz, a teenager with a Mercedes, committed the crime highlights that it was probably just kids being stupid. It might have been a crappy Mercedes, but i at least suggests he wasn’t completely desperate for money to survive. That he had a rental U-Haul further suggests it might have been the thrill of doing something bad and not some sort of highly profitable criminal scheme that drove the kids to steal the motorcycles.

Schulz wasn’t the only one who did the police a big favor:

Authorities said Harris was arrested in the 1900 block of Veterans Boulevard around noon on Jan. 31, the report said. It added that Harris was found in possession of a key for the U-Haul at Schulz’s house.

He may not have given them a full confession, but having the key on him after being connected to the crime by someone who did confess is the next best thing. I’d say that the officers who searched him were probably grinning ear to ear when they found the key, but it may be something they encounter frequently. Police work can be hard, no doubt, but lots of criminal are remarkably terrible at crime. Schulz and Harris probably weren’t the first to do a bang up job of incriminating themselves.

This may also be predictable, possibly for more than one reason:

Schulz was released on a $50,000 bond Feb. 1. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 17. Harris remains in custody in lieu of a $20,800 bond. Harris is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 21 for a preliminary hearing.

The first version of the article said Schulz only had a $5,000 bond, which would’ve made things seem even less fair. As it turns out, though, Schulz got the higher bond, but Harris is the one still in custody. Schulz is white, and Harris is black. Race may not be as big a factor as it would’ve been had Schulz really only had a $5,000 bond, but there’s unfairness in the situation even if race wasn’t a factor at all.

Schulz is the guy with the Mercedes. He was also the one who got caught with that Mercedes, which people saw at the scene of the burglary, as well as the U-Haul people saw at the scene and a few of the stolen bikes. Harris just got caught with the U-Haul key. It’s unlikely Schulz’s confession alone, especially when police would’ve still have a solid case without it, justified him being released and Harris staying in custody. Schulz had means, though, so he’s out.

You have to feel bad for Friendly Honda Yamaha, and Schulz and Harris deserve some sort of punishment, especially if the dealer never get those extra bikes back. It’s a pretty stupid crime, though.

As is the case most of the time, some kids made some bad decisions. Now one is in jail and the one with more money is out. It’s about the most typical criminal justice story you can imagine.

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  • Rick
    10 February 2017 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Apparently you don’t car shop much. If you did you’d know that you can buy an old Mercedes just as cheap,y as you can an old Ford or Chevy. Driving a clunker Mercedes means nothing at all. As to the rest I admit to being confused. The apparent white ringleader had a $50k bond which someone was able to pay. The black accomplice got a $20k bond which he couldn’t pay. Are we supposed to read some sort of racism into the?