Craziest Things Athletes Have Been Caught Stealing
Fame, power and cash—lots and lots of cold, hard cash—can transform a person in an instant, but countless examples of celebrities, executives, politicians and…yes… athletes, have shown that there are limits to how deeply these things change who we are.
Some people steal, because they’re broke and hungry, or have a substance abuse problem; but others have no clear underlying motive and simply lack—or ignore—that barrier of conscience or fear that keeps most of society from swiping anything that isn’t nailed down.
Regardless of wealth or status, there are folks who like to steal. The fact that someone is an All-Pro or future Hall of Famer doesn’t necessarily preclude their desire to walk out of a store without paying for something.
Call it greed; call it kleptomania; call them dummies; more than one label likely fits an athlete busted for treating a pharmacy or electronics store like their own personal, free buffet. It’s not about the money, because plenty of athletes who earn more than enough to not have to resort to outright theft do it anyway.
What isn’t surprising is that some—not many, but some—of the people in sports who we admire and root for might have a problem with stealing; what is surprising is some of their bizarre decisions about what to steal.
Let's take a look at some of the craziest things athletes have stolen.
He Stole What? Prescription Painkillers
In April 2012, troubled former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was arrested again for burglarizing a home and stealing prescription painkillers. It was his second arrest in the span of a week; the first one came after police found narcotics in his golf bag, which an acquaintance accused Leaf of stealing from his home.
He Stole What? A Women’s Purse
In February 2008, Ryan O’Byrne, then a rookie with the Montreal Canadiens, was arrested outside a nightclub in Tampa, Florida, for allegedly stealing a woman’s purse. His teammate Tom Kostopoulos was also busted for resisting arrest. O’Byrne was charged with felony grand theft and released on $2,000 bail.
He stole what? Automobiles
Former MLB star Lenny Dykstra has been a one-man criminal enterprise since retiring from the game, having spent time in jail for embezzlement and grand theft auto. In April 2011, TMZ reported Dykstra was being investigated for purchasing vehicles through fraudulent means, that according to the LAPD.
He Stole What? A Bicycle
In April 2014, defensive end Frank Herron, a redshirt freshman at LSU, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor theft after he was spotted riding a stolen bicycle. The owner of the stolen bike was the one that turned in Herron, who later admitted to police that he stole it from a bike rack near the Huey P. Long Field House on campus.
He Stole What? Taxi Cab
In March 2012, ECHL player Trent Campbell was arrested for allegedly stealing a taxi cab in Florida. At the time, he was the leading scorer for the South Carolina Stingrays and was in the Sunshine State to play the Florida Everblades.
He stole what? Mets Memorabilia
In May 2011, Charlie Samuels, the longtime clubhouse manager for the Mets, was arraigned for charges which included theft and fraud. According to CBS Sports, over his 27 seasons with the team, Samuels, “stockpiled 507 signed and unsigned jerseys, 304 hats, 828 bats, 22 batting helmets, 10 equipment bags, valued together at more than $2.3 million.”
He Stole What? Fitness Equipment
In February 2014, former NFL defensive end Jared Tomich was arrested in Valparaiso, Indiana, and charged with theft. Tomich had been managing a local health club when an estimated $8,200 worth of equipment turned up missing. Among the stolen items were exercise and office equipment, as well as satellite radios.
Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles
They Stole What? Clothes From Dillards
In October 1999, Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick, who was a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy at the time, and teammate Laveranues Coles were arrested and charged with grand theft. The arrest was the result of an uncovered scheme they concocted to underpay for clothes at a Dillards department store in Tallahassee, Florida.
He stole what? IDs
In September 2013, former MLB player Ryan Thompson, who was coaching youth baseball in Indianapolis at the time, was among 18 people arrested and charged in connection with an ID theft scheme. The scheme involved providing stolen social security numbers to people with poor credit in order to fraudulently acquire vehicles.
He stole what? Aluminum Tubing
In March 2012, former NBA player Orlando Woolridge was arrested for stealing aluminum tubing from a drill site in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. He was charged with theft of over $1,500 and later released after posting $2,000 bond.
He Stole What? Gas, Lots of Gas
In June 2011, former Eagles running back Reno Mahe was arrested in Utah, charged with stealing over $15,000 worth of gasoline from a construction company in Salt Lake City. Mahe was among five people charged in what amounted to a $55,000 loss. Former BYU football player Tevita Ofahengaue was also among the five.
He Stole What? Cookies
In September 2013, it was reported by the Daily Mail and National Enquirer (via FoxSports) that former NFL running back O.J. Simpson, currently serving a 33-year prison sentence for a 2008 kidnapping and armed robbery conviction, was busted smuggling more than a dozen oatmeal cookies into his Nevada prison cell. Although, there’s never been any official confirmation of the story.
He stole what? Shirts
In April 2011, Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested at a Macy’s department store in downtown Cincinnati for trying to steal six shirts valued at under $59.88—total. He was booked on first-degree misdemeanor shoplifting, having been picked up just two hours before he was supposed to be at batting practice prior to a game against the Pirates.
Charles "June" Henley, Jr.
He Stole What? A TV
In September 2011, former NFL player Charles “June” Henley, Jr., who played just one year in the league before a toe injury ended his career, was arrested after a series of relatively brazen thefts from Westerville, Ohio, area Walmarts.
According to 10TV.com, the first two times, Henley simply walked out of the store without paying for a television. The third time, "He asked the cashier to remove the security feature on the TV. As he was writing the check, he didn’t finish the check and just decided, I’m going to walk out with the TV and got into the same stolen vehicle.”
He Stole What? Doughnuts
In June 2010, Golden Tate, then a rookie wide receiver with the Seahawks, was cited for trespassing after breaking into a gourmet doughnut shop around 3 a.m. Apparently, Tate and a friend found the door unattended and/or unsecured and decided to wander in and grab some grub. He later apologized, but said they have the best maple bars in town.
He stole what? A Taco
In March 2012, former Florida basketball player Erving Walker stole a $3 taco from a street vendor in Gainesville, Florida. He then ran off and cops gave chase, ordering him to stop. Because fleeing on foot almost never works, Walker was quickly apprehended, at which time he said he was, “just playing around.” Weeks later, he apologized in court and was given a $301 fine.
He stole what? A Bathing Suit
In March 2009, former NHL player Chris Nilan, who played for the Bruins and Canadiens during his career, was arrested and charged with shoplifting when he was caught stealing a bathing suit from Lord & Taylor. Eventually, the charges were dismissed, and Nilan was ordered to stay out of the store, but there’s no question he attempted to steal the suit. According to The Patriot Ledger, Nilan told police, “I just wanted to save a few bucks.”
He Stole What? Crab Legs
In April 2013, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who led the Seminoles to a national championship and won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, was cited for shoplifting $32.72 worth of crab legs from a Publix grocery store in Tallahassee, Florida. The story dominated the sports world, particularly on social media, for a few days. Just when it seemed like it had blown over for Winston, Leon County Sheriff’s Office released the surveillance video of the incident.