We’ve all seen them before: videos of criminals who definitely should have done a lot more research and rehearsal before attempting their dastardly deeds. Whether it’s locking themselves inside the stores they are robbing and having to be let out by the officers who will then arrest them or dropping all the money they’ve stolen on the street, these stories show crime doesn’t pay.
But a story in January 2019 in Florida illustrated the concept even more dramatically when a thief put his hands on a bottle of pills he thought would give him a high. Only things didn’t go quite the way he anticipated.
Living in Pinellas County, 69-year-old man Peter Emery Jr. was known to have an issue with abusing medication. He had been convicted of petty theft in 2014 and 2015. According to WFLA in Tampa, “family members say Emery has had a pill popping problem for years and had recently completed his latest rehab program and was looking for a place to stay.”
Emery ended up living with a family member, who hoped to provide him with a chance to recover, but unfortunately, it proved to be a tempting setting. One of Emery’s new roommates, Jayme Ream, had a legal prescription for hydrocodone acetaminophen, a combination of an opioid and the key ingredient in Tylenol.
Ream had noticed that his pills seemed to be disappearing at a faster rate than normal and decided to find out what was going on. To do this, he secretly purchased a surveillance camera from Walmart and set it up near the lockbox where he keeps his medication. But to make sure that the thief, whoever he or she was, learned their lesson, Ream added a twist.
REPORT: 56-year-old Peter Hans Emery Jr. was caught on camera stealing a pill bottle that wasn't going to give him the rushed feelings he was expecting.
Taking his prescription pill bottle, he emptied the painkillers and refilled the bottle with some lookalikes. Except these weren’t the opioids that Emery was after; they were Equate Gentle laxative pills, according to WTVT in Tampa Bay. Promising “gentle, predictable overnight relief,” these over-the-counter pills are “for those who regularly experience constipation.”
When Ream examined the video footage from his newly acquired camera, he was shocked. “I couldn’t believe how quick he got in. He just basically, from the video, he just walked in,” Ream told WFLA. “Had the code and he was in.” Soon after, Emery was seen on camera removing two pills and taking them with him.
Presented with the evidence, Emery “admitted that he did not have permission to take the pills,” per WFLA. Given his two prior convictions for petty theft, this time he was charged with a felony.
Whatever the sentence, it’s likely that the effect of the laxatives would dissuade him from future thefts. According to NBC Miami, Emery had also violated the terms of his probation for previous convictions and was booked on Jan. 24, 2019.
As for Ream, his little lesson was not only ingenious but found by police to be completely legal. As Pinellas Park Police Lt. Adam Geissenberger told WFLA, Ream “put a laxative in a bottle, knowing someone was going to steal it again, or truly believing that.”
The point of the experiment was simply to show the thief that he shouldn’t be breaking into other people’s possessions, which hopefully went through.
“In this case somebody did steal it and fortunately, regardless of who it was who took it, it wasn’t a dangerous substance that was going to harm that person.”