Every few years I stumble upon a news story about a crime so hilariously outrageous that I immediately think to myself, “Well, that has to be the subject of a Gazette column.” News out of Australia provided just such a story in early December, when local authorities put out an APB for a missing truck containing 10,000 donuts.
It actually began on Nov. 29 in Carlingford, in northwest Sydney, when the driver of a delivery truck went into a store to pay for his tank of gas. It was about 3:30 in the morning local time — a little later than the “time to make the donuts” (to quote a ‘90s Dunkin commercial) — but apparently the exact time to deliver them.
Somewhat strangely, the entire thing had a very American feel, as the donuts were from Charlotte, N.C.-based Krispy Kreme and were being delivered to a chain gas station owned by Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven. The world really has gotten smaller, apparently.
While the driver was away, someone — initially identified only as a female — jumped into the delivery truck and drove away. Now, the truck was emblazoned with the Krispy Kreme logo, so the thief presumably at least knew that it was a delivery van, but whether the person realized what they were getting away with wasn’t clear, even after a suspect was arrested.
Because it was early in the delivery process, the theft was not only of the vehicle itself, but also of the 10,000 delectable treats that were still packaged in the back and waiting to be delivered to other stores. The driver was stranded. The police were stumped. The Australians were … hungry. That said, it was only a matter of hours before the Australian Krispy Kreme X account tweeted that all donut orders had been replaced, suggesting a truly massive Australian donut making capability heretofore unknown.
The local police asked for help, noting in public statements that the van was “regrettably not sprinkled with tracking devices.” Security camera footage eventually led to the arrest of a suspect about two weeks later, long after the van, still carrying its load of now rapidly decomposing goodies, had been abandoned and recovered. Whether or not the thief ever realized what she had stolen didn’t matter to authorities, who not only charged her with stealing the van, but also with driving without a license, and with stealing the confectionary cargo.
Which leads to the legal angle of this column — the fact that unintended consequences can still very much be consequences. The carjacker who doesn’t realize there is a child in the back seat is frequently charged with kidnapping. The person who steals a work vehicle, not knowing of its use, can be charged not only with theft but also with vandalism (based on a recent decision from the Supreme Court of Ohio, in fact). The person who goes along with a serious crime in which an accomplice shoots someone can face a felony murder charge, even though they didn’t pull the trigger.
In each of those instances, the key fact is that the person made the conscious and intentional decision to commit the initial offense, knowing, or at least being in a position where they should have been aware, that the car might have a backseat passenger, or it might be a work vehicle, or that their armed accomplice might actually use the weapon they’re carrying.
All of those situations are, of course, far more serious than some missing crullers, but the Australian case makes the point that when people chose to engage in nefarious behavior, they can’t glaze over the potential consequences because their choices may be sprinkled with outcomes they didn’t even anec-dough-tally consider. As for the Aussie thief, she was held without bond awaiting trial – truly the icing on the cake.
David Hejmanowski is judge of the Probate/Juvenile Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, where he has served as magistrate, court administrator, and now judge, since 2003. He has written a weekly column on law and history for The Delaware Gazette, a sister paper of the Galion Inquirer, since 2005.