What goes around really does come around. Two men in New Orleans learned that the hard way after police were called to a Waffle House restaurant in Pearl River, Louisiana. Their crime? Skipping out without paying their bill or tipping their waitress. Incredibly, the bill for their meal was only $7.
It appears the two men, later identified as Richard A. Brown and Stayshawn D. Stephens, rolled into town feeling invincible. Their decision to not pay the bill wasn’t because they didn’t have any money but desperately needed a meal, it was because they thought the rules didn’t apply to them.
WDSU in New Orleans is reporting that local police were called to the restaurant early Saturday morning and told that two men left in a U-Haul van without paying for their meal. After a routine patrol of the area, police found the van parked outside of a local hotel. Initially, authorities weren’t sure if this was the correct van. For the most part, U-Haul vans all look alike, and this one was no exception.
Their doubts were put to rest after Brown took off running when the police car approached.
And he might have gotten away, too. If it weren’t for the K-9 unit tracking him down in the thickly wooded area behind the motel they were holed up in, Stephens might have been left to face the music alone. It didn’t take long to bring Brown in, and both men were taken to St. Tammany Parish Jail.
If that were the end of the story, it would be a happy, if unspectacular ending. But it’s not.
While investigators were searching their rented U-Haul van, they made a startling discovery. Along with a $7.41 receipt to the Waffle House located off Concord Boulevard, they found everything they needed to put the men away for a long time.
As it turns out, the Waffle House wasn’t the only place these two were planning on ripping off. Investigators found several fake ID cards, credit cards, and credit card skimming devices. Further investigation determined that they were both involved in an interstate identity theft scheme out of Los Angeles, California.
Police believe this is an organized credit card skimming operation that stretches as far as California, Indiana, and New Orleans.
The men intended to install the credit card skimmers in gas stations around Louisiana. Whenever someone would punch in their personal identification number, they’d effectively be handing Stephens, Brown, and their crony bosses in Los Angeles access to the funds in their bank account.
Fortunately, police are confident they arrested Brown and Stephens before they were able to install any of the skimmers.
But what has investigators most excited is that they believe this will lead to many more arrests. The operation run by Brown and Stephens matches reports of others that have been seen across the country. The thieves use U-Haul vans with double-doors to obscure their identity while they install the skimmers. After they’re done, they get back in the van and drive to another gas station.
If authorities can get either of the men to start spilling the beans, it might deal a devastating blow to the entire credit card skimming issue that is popping up all over the country.
Authorities are urging people to look for intact stickers that prove the pump hasn’t been illegally opened.
To think that this major breakthrough in identity theft was made because two people didn’t want to pay their bill at a Waffle House in Louisiana is truly incredible. “They could have paid for the Waffle House bill and we wouldn’t have been involved in this”, said Pearl River County Police Chief J.J. Jennings.
The moral of the story? Always pay your bill and tip your waitress.