At three-thirty in the morning, James Presley of Mobile (AL) was making deliveries in the small town of Slidell (LA). He did this every morning. Pulling off the major east-west thoroughfare into the Chevron at 1705 E. Gause Blvd., Presley stopped the truck, grabbed a few racks out of the back and entered the store. He left the vehicle running unaware of the presence lurking outside and the role he would play initiating an incident that would place this town of 25,695 on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in the national spotlight.
Clint Messina and Rose Houk had spent the evening smoking crack and were looking for a ride home when they reached the Chevron parking lot and found the unattended delivery truck. The pair jumped in. Under an overcast sky, Messina and Houk disappeared into the humid night. In their hasty exit, they made a big mistake. Having forgotten to shut the back gate, they left a trail of evidence in their wake. Their mistake made even more egregious by the choice of theft. The delivery truck belonged to Krispy Kreme and they were leaving a trail of donuts for the cops to follow.
Corporal Phillip Coleman responded to the Chevron and met with Presley who stated another customer had advised him his truck was being stolen. Presley looked outside and all that was left were the racks and donut boxes littering the parking lot and roadway. Cpl. Coleman radioed in the theft. Lieutenant Kevin Foltz was assigned as the night shift supervisor that morning. "When we got the report of the stolen truck, I immediately told officers to start spanning out and go to locations the truck might be at," Foltz, now a captain, explains. His tactical strategy and possibly his nose for raspberry-filled paid off and soon the radio crackled to life reporting the location of the stolen truck.
Officer Alex Davis, a two-year veteran of Slidell Police Department, spotted the truck and its tasty cargo going west-bound on I-12. According to what he told reporters, he was being bombarded by an onslaught of donuts. "At first I thought the thieves were throwing them at me," he said. "Then I got close enough to see boxes were just falling out the back." Despite the sugary missiles, or maybe because of them, Davis advised he was in pursuit of the truck. "The officer requested permission to pursue it," Foltz says. "Because of the hour there was very little traffic, so I allowed it."
The truck continued on I-12, reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour, launching a continuing arsenal of jelly, glazed and powdered donuts onto the highway and into the path of Davis' pursuing patrol car. Too bad he didn't have a cup of coffee--he could have rolled down his window and had a scrumptious snack. Of course, Davis was pure purpose at that point. He had two truck thieves to catch--two donut truck thieves. Both vehicles continued the chase. "The officer pursued the truck on I-12 for several miles and exited in Lacombe," Foltz explains. "They went down several roads and turned off into a driveway where they ran into a ditch." Davis jumped from his vehicle, watching where he stepped to avoid destruction of evidence, and approached the Krispy Kreme truck. The driver's door was open; the seat empty. "The driver must have had the door open prior to running into the ditch," Foltz says. "When the officer got to the truck, he looked to see if anyone was still inside. The female got out and tried to run. The officer tackled her." Clint Messina was arrested on a warrant in January, 2003. Presley was transported to the scene and took possession of the truck. As far as the donuts, Foltz says, "I don't know what happened to them. They didn't give us any."
As soon as the media caught wind of the incident, stereotypes and the jokes based on them began enforce. Slidell Public Information Officer Lieutenant Rob Callahan encouraged the light-hearted humor at the press conference the next morning announcing, "Several dozen doughnuts were confiscated at the scene, but by the time they got to the evidence room there were only two left." As far as motive, he speculated, "I don't know if it was a need for transportation or if they just had the munchies." The next month, an article ran in People highlighting the incident titled "Krispy Krime" and Jay Leno joked on The Tonight Show, "a 15-mile trail of doughnuts (was left) and (the thieves) were captured by 5,482 officers."
Knowing the link between cops and donuts, one would think criminals would avoid drawing attention themselves by stealing a truck full of the tasty treats. But, criminals never cease to amaze. The Slidell incident is only one of many.
Although Slidell officers were invited to appear on the Tonight Show, the department declined. Maybe the producers couldn't provide a more appetizing incentive than the thieves in their own town.