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Stolen Red Bull Gives Thieves and Drug Habits Wings as South Pasadena Police Prefer Serial Numbers

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In The News

Times are tough. You've gotta keep up energy. One guy found his wings through stealing energy drinks in a scheme that included him, a trolley cart, and a Red Bull rep's shirt. It was smart. Other Red Bull thieves aren't as smart--but are creative in problem-solving: Recent robbers have been ripping off cases of Red Bull to fund those drug habits, and the Red Bull Bandit is nabbed. Don't ask South Pasadena Police: Without serial numbers, the cops apparently don't where to begin.
If there was going to be a Red Bull crime, most would probably attribute the idea to a teenager or someone young. But, on the theory age decreases energy, maybe the guy arrested last March in 2011 felt he needed it more: 42-year-old Charles Burkhalter is accused of stealing thousands of dollars in Red Bull energy drinks from local retailer. He should've retired those wings before greed got him busted in Fresno, California.
More along the lines of bank robberies and hold-ups, the thief's method included a string of Red Bull robberies that had been going on for months -- a man targeting retailers who sold the energy drink, then utilizing using a rather ingenious ploy. He looked the part and, reportedly, spoke the part. And apparently confused grocery store clerks didn't know the wiser. Who would think a guy would go to great lengths to steal Red Bull by the case load? Or wheel your entire supply of Red Bull cases right out the door, in broad daylight and fully visible on video camera footage? One guy is that brazen.
The Fresno-area Red Bull thief dressed the part -- Red Bull emblazoned shirt and all -- all while acting like a rep for the energy drink company. It's all been caught on video tape. In this Fresno video, the suspect simply walks into a Fresno convenience store wearing a "Red Bull" shirt and posing as a rep when he tells the clerk he's at the store to replace some expired energy drinks. In the scam, the thief simply and swiftly removes several hundred dollars worth of the energy drinks from the store. Cops believe he's responsible for thefts totaling thousands of dollars worth of Red Bull throughout the Central Valley in California. But that was back in March -- and now the stolen Red Bull 'scene' has moved South, to Southern California.
Red Bull ain't cheap: The smallest, standard 12-oz size can runs about three bucks a pop -- while the next two sizes up run about $4 to $5 each. It only makes sense they'd have a good resale value. Smart and Final charges about $50 for a case of the standard-sized Red Bull energy drinks.
Police nabbed the most recent So Cal energy thief, dubbed the "Red Bull bandit," suspect Eric Petrossian. He's just 21 and police say he's connected to a string of energy drink thefts in South Pasadena or neighboring areas.
A Glendale police officer viewed security camera footage of Petrossian at two supermarkets and reportedly remembered a link to a previous incident -- to help out the floundering South Pasadena PD. Apparently there's been a rise in Southern California Red Bull shoplifting. Glendale detectives actually set up an undercover police operation -- following 29-year-old Jelbert Davoode and 43-year-old Jozef Allahyarian as the pair attempted to re-sell stolen cases of Red Bull at a discounted rate to four small convenience stores throughout Glendale and Burbank.
To top that scenario, Glendale cops picked up one other interesting suspect: 22-year-old Sevan Kamali just got busted on suspicion of stealing cases of Red Bull -- and for allegedly possessing heroin. Police have unearthed the fact that some people connected to the Red Bull thefts are using "proceeds [from selling stolen Red Bull products] to fund their drug habits."
South Pasadena cops think Petrossian may be connected to other Red Bull thefts and may be selling the stolen beverages -- though they don't know where. Perhaps South Pasadena cops might consider following the lead of their Glendale buddies, who managed an undercover operation that led them to the 'where'. Perhaps that's too tough of a concept to wrap a brain around.
The kicker is the quote from the South Pasadena Police Department. Detective Richard Lee of the South Pasadena Police Department says: “We haven’t found out [where the stolen Red Bulls may be sold], and unfortunately, they’re not products with a serial number that you can trace them.” Perhaps no one pointed out to South Pasadena PD that, even if the Red Bulls did contain serial numbers, it would necessarily get those detectives too far. The thieves obviously aren't selling minimal amounts back to major grocery stores. The thieves probably aren't going to be selling the Red Bull on ebay or Craigslist after police have warned that's where they're looking.
South Pasadena cops could get a clue by following the lead of the Glendale PD and its undercover operation that led to mini-mart stores -- if South Pasadena wanted to crack a case or two, by performing its own undercover op. Or, here's a little clue detective: Think small. And consider the facts, like age. If those Red Bulls aren't going to independent mini-marts, it tends to limit other locations for re-sale to one of two places: Neighborhood bars -- or, perhaps far more likely at the age of 21 -- the easy sale to frat houses, for parties. Frat houses need 'wings'.
Or detectives could just sit behind their desks, twiddling some thumbs and ruminating on the good, old days -- and serial numbers. Or focusing on irritation over the idea that other pesky things, like murders, don't have serial numbers either. Why can't crime just be a little easier?


Fresno, CA
United States
36° 44' 51.8172" N, 119° 46' 20.5176" W
South Pasadena, CA
United States
34° 6' 58.032" N, 118° 9' 1.2564" W
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