Jelly-Belly vs. The Michelin Man

GUMSHOE-DANNY-PITOCCO[su_dropcap style=”flat”]G[/su_dropcap]REETINGS AGAIN dear readers as good old gumshoe shares another tale from yesteryear when I worked as a uniform police officer for the City of Orange Police Department, Orange County, California back in the late 70’s.

I was off of my one-year probation period, but my low seniority still had me assigned to the graveyard shift from 2300 hours to 0700 hours. My assigned beat was area 17- the northern part of the city that was a nice mix of businesses on one side of the 55 Newport Freeway and up-scale residences on the other side of the freeway.

Our nightly pre-patrol briefings emphasized the increase of commercial burglaries (mostly roof-jobs where the burglar would either pry-up a roof vent or actually cut a hole in the roof to climb down into the building) all along the various businesses situated along Tustin Avenue that was the main corridor that ran north to south through the entire city of Orange.

Most roof job burglars attacked the business during the late evening to early morning hours for a host of burglary rationale: the businesses would be closed (obviously); the roofs were not alarmed; easy to prevent from being seen by the prying eyes of “lookie-loos” pedestrians and from the random patrol officer who would normally be glued to his or her car seats.

Burglar etiquette: People (including cops) somehow forget to look up when searching for anything whether outside or inside.

Well, it was during one week of my area 17 graveyard shifts that I happened to be situated at the right place at the right time. Thanks to the police Gods, that week two very distinctive but separate commercial burglars were brought to justice by their own lack of professionalism.

Suspect number one thought it would be a great idea to pry-up a rooftop ventilation vent from Polly Pies restaurant. He successfully removed the vent, stripped-down to his tee shirt and shorts minus his shoes and socks and managed to slide his skinny-ass frame down the vent shaft into the business. Much to his chagrin and due to the laws of gravity, he slid much faster than he had hoped (yikes, no brakes!) right down into an industrial size vat of jelly.   (Did I mention dear readers that including pies, Polly’s also baked jelly-filled donuts?) All cops know where to get their donuts by the way.

The ventilation shaft became larger at the entrance to the kitchen-end than the narrower-tampered roof end. This, I later surmised, (while taking crime scene photo’s), caused this hapless (clueless) suspect to do a most spectacular but definitely unplanned and ungainly “belly flop” into the jelly filled vat! The suspect actually knocked himself unconscious as the vat was tipped-over onto the kitchen floor. The unsuspecting early morning baker arrived at the business and came upon an up-side-down vat with a set of skinny hairy legs protruding from one side of it. The baker went to a near-by pay phone and called the police.

I arrived at the scene within minutes and I found the suspect still playing turtle. My back-up partner and I put on our leather gloves and we each grabbed one of the suspect’s ankles and pulled him from his vat igloo on the count of “one-two-three”. The jelly-covered suspect slid from our grip faster than we had expected which caused us to simultaneously let his ankles go and unintentionally hurl him directly into the industrial size bags of flour which immediately enveloped him in a cloud of dust!

Well, now since our suspect had been jellied and floured, it was now time for us to prepare him for handcuffs and his arrest. Since I was the handling officer, I had the dubious responsibility of transporting the ingredient-laced (marinated?) suspect to the county jail for booking. The booking deputies immediately referred to my burglar as “Jelly Belly” as he was placed into a disposable paper jumpsuit.

A few nights later, while I was still working my assigned 17 beat during my graveyard shift, an employee arriving to open up the tire store made a report that one of the service garage doors to the business had had a glass pane broken-in (glass on the interior of the garage floor) and wanted to report the vandalism.

Once again I arrived at the scene and being the “attention-to-detail” field investigator that I was (actually, I just wanted to impress the employee with my police smarts); I noticed that the broken garage window glass frame could allow another “skinny-ass” suspect to slide through it without too much difficulty. I then called for a back-up officer to do an interior business check. We t jointly walked down several aisles of tires that were stacked at least six feet high looking for any signs of a burglar.

Well, sure enough, as we passed down an adjoining aisle of tires, I heard the distinctive sounds of hyper-ventilated breathing coming from a stack of tires to my left.

Dear readers, try to picture in your mind’s eye the game of dominoes when you would line them up and then knock one down to see all the other dominoes continue creating this kinetic energy as they fell.

With nicely placed side kicks by me and my partner to this breathing stack of tires, the dominoes started to fall all the way down the row of tires to the end of the sales aisle. The entrapped burglar’s head (wearing a black knit stocking cap) and a set of hands (wearing gloves) popped out of one end of the tire stack as it rolled counter-clockwise into a car battery display and come to an abrupt stop with the Michelin Man burglar shouting out a very colorful expletive.

Another dizzy commercial burglar caught-up in the wheels of justice! Sometimes you just gotta love police work and some of the mentally-challenged suspects.

Until next time, kind readers be sure to love your loved ones.


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. HaHaHa hilarious! I can’t get Jelly Bean out of my head. I bet he hates jelly the rest of his life. I bet the Michelin Man wishes he never got near those stacks of tires. So funny! I think it’s great that in so many events that have no humor you are able to keep your perspective and enJOY the telling and retelling of stories that make us laugh.

    • Why thank you Ken for your comment. You only encourage me to delve into my brain housing group to drege up more! Blessings to you and yours. Danny