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Hold on to your pants, this tale is a meaty one

December 11, 2007

So, is that a rib-eye in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?

You had to love the "choplifter" story of last week, in which a gentleman was - well, staff writer Erin Julius puts it better than I ever could: "Testimony during a jury trial Thursday centered around whether the bulges in a man's pants were packages of meat he stole from a local grocery store."

The chap was convicted for stealing less than $100 worth of meat by stuffing it in his clothing at a local Food Lion. His act was noticed by an alert cashier as he checked out with a loaf of bread.

Stuffing valuables down his pants. Who did he think he was, Sandy Berger?

Inexplicably, the man failed to invoke the "Animal House" defense, in which he leans over the counter and says in a confidential stage whisper, "I'm pledging a fraternity."

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I raced through the entire story, but unfortunately, the main question I had concerning this shoplifting case was not answered: Like, he was going to eat this meat? After stuffing it down his pants?

Dude, we're not talking about the five-second rule here. I mean it's one thing to scoop a meatball off the linoleum. It is quite another to walk around for 20 minutes with a rack of ribs in the cow pasture.

It's too much risk for me when all that stands between you and a Very Bad Thing happening is a millimeter of cling wrap. You want to see the grade of beef decline with a quickness, this meat goes from prime to choice to select to circus food in the space of about six seconds.

Of course, maybe it wasn't for him. Maybe it was a gift and he figured he could pass it off under the government policy of "don't ask, don't smell."

The guy's age was listed as 46, so I guess he wasn't wearing those ridiculously baggy pants that are so popular with our youngsters. Goodness knows what you could walk out with in a pair of those.

It's like the story about the train robbery where the woman tells her husband she was able to keep her diamond earrings from the thieves by hiding them in her mouth and he says, "Too bad your mother wasn't along, we could have saved our whole set of luggage."

And not to sound alarmist, but I think the retail world needs to be aware that this case of trousergate is not a singular occurrence. According to the Annapolis Capital, "a Glen Burnie man was arrested after an officer found him in a store's bathroom with a $700 fishing reel stuffed into his pants."

Guess he figured that including the rod would have been pressing his luck. Police charged him with theft and also with possession of drug paraphernalia "after the officer found a glass drug-smoking pipe under the seat of the Jeep that he had been driving."

Brilliant. This should be a reminder to petty thieves everywhere: If you plan to go out on a crime spree, don't forget to take your bong.

Somewhere you think there has to be a shoplifter handbook that would remind you that just in case you're caught, you don't want to be driving around with the remains of Jimmy Hoffa in the trunk.

It's like these people who are motoring off without paying for a full tank of gas. Yes, you need it and you can no longer afford it, I get that. You're probably right, we're being ripped off by the big oil companies. But dog, there are only about 18 video cameras at the pumps pointed directly at your melon. Don't you see a problem here?

Clerks at the convenience store don't even look up anymore.

"Hello and thank you for shopping at Sheetz. Lou, we got a drive-off on six. Will there be anything else"

They got your tag number and more photos of you that the paparazzi have of Prince William; they ain't worried.

And neither would Food Lion if they'd just think to videotape their veal.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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