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In what some folks who probably enjoy alcohol just a wee bit too much are calling the crime of the century, 65 cases of coveted 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and 9 cases of 13-year-old rye were stolen recently from a warehouse in Frankfort, Kentucky. The story, which has been reported everywhere from CNN to The New York Times to The CW39 NewsFix (Kentucky’s News Leader for teenaged girls), has everyone from the cops to whiskey-philes wondering whodunnit. Like no crime in recent memory, the Pappy Heist has set the drinking world abuzz. And let’s be honest. It was already pretty buzzed.

Speaking of drinking and recent memory, what was I talking about?

Oh, right. So as of this writing, no arrests have been made, but police in Franklin County suspect it was an inside job perpetrated over a two-month period. And as of this morning, a person of interest is being sought for questioning. An official motive has not been disclosed, but sources with knowledge of the investigation have suggested it might have something to do with money and/or really good bourbon and/or happy hour.

While stealing over 200 bottles of high-class hooch from under the noses of its distillers is undoubtedly a super-dick move, in the same way we root for Danny Ocean in Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13, it’s hard not to admire an impressive feat of thievery. If the culprits manage to somehow get away with it, this will go down as one of the greatest successful swindles in Booze History (which I majored in in college, by the way). Yep, right up there with Moe Szyslak labeling bottles of soy sauce “Malaysian Duff,” Eric Clapton accepting millions of dollars from Michelob to be their celebrity spokesperson while he was being treated for substance abuse, and the drunk monkeys of the Caribbean…

And that’s what’s really surprising about the Pappy-Purloiners and monkey-moochers of the world: that they succeed. Usually when you mix alcohol with crime you get very different results. I’ve made something of a study of this and I can report two findings clearly. First, despite all the good things it does for society, alcohol occasionally inspires some people to break the law. Second, when drunks break the law, it’s often hilarious.

Take 43-year-old Dawnalee Ellis-Peterson of Billings, Montana, for instance. Back in April she was pulled over by police for being “extremely intoxicated” while riding a horse. Being blackout drunk in the wee hours of the morning while sitting astride a stallion is nothing out of the ordinary in Montana, so the cops let her go with a warning. Apparently not the sort to quit to while she’s ahead, though, ol’ Dawnalee opted for a little more horsepower and took her pickup truck for a whirl around the neighborhood. That’s when police nabbed her again and charged her with her fourth DUI in the past 20 years…. which, in Montana, actually qualifies you for a “safe driver discount” on your insurance.

Another alco-equine offender is Tracy Nadine Ellenburg of South Carolina who, back in 2009, was spotted drunkenly navigating a stolen horse down Main Street in the town of Six Mile. When the cops asked her just what in the hell she was thinking mounting a 1,200-pound beast while shitfaced, Ellenburg explained that it wasn’t she who was drunk, but the horse. She got cited for disorderly conduct.

The lesson here, people, is don’t drink and ride horses. The neighborly thing to do is get the horse drunk, then hop on to make sure it gets home safe.

Now I’m not going to claim some kind of moral high ground when it comes to booze and breaking the law. I won’t deny being a party to any number of extralegal shenanigans that have gone down while under the influence. I am also not going to tell you about most of them (the statute of limitations on public urination is surprisingly long). However, there is one transgression I feel deserves mention.

In the early 1990s, I attended a Fishbone show at The Stone Balloon in Newark, Delaware. I was ejected from this show. I was quite drunk. My offense: stage-diving. I mean what kind of sick animal would do that at a Fishbone show. My friends, in a touching display of solidarity, departed the joint with me, and as we walked through the lot around back near the loading dock, we noticed an open, unattended beer truck. Seeing the chance for a little get-back for getting tossed, I hopped up on that mother and snagged a case of Moosehead. Which is when the biggest, most ornery-looking truck driver in Northern Delaware tapped me on the shoulder.

“The fuck you doing with that Moosehead?!” he growled.

“Um….” I stammered.

“I said, WHAT. The FUCK. You DOING. With that Moosehead?”

“Um…” I brilliantly rejoindered.

This is around the time I peed my pants. I’d like to think the incidents are unrelated, but I feel I should include that detail so you know I’m not defensive about it shut up.

In the end, it was decided that what I was actually doing was purchasing a case of Moosehead from the nice gentleman with the beer truck. All of us were, in fact. He demanded me and my buddies fork over every dollar we had between us, in exchange for not beating our asses and calling the police. We obliged. He took our $57, and gave us the beer. And punched me in the gut for good measure which, let’s face it, I had coming.

So, you see, I got off easy. No cops got involved and all it took was getting the wind knocked outta me and my friends buying me the most expensive case of Moosehead in history. They still love me, don’t you guys.


But my youthful indiscretions have nothing on the criminal artiste who will be celebrated by the history books with a moniker no other may claim. Ladies and gentlemen, I submit there will only ever be one Duct Tape Bandit.

It seems that one night in 2007, Kasey Kazee (not kidding) found himself possessed of a powerful thirst. The kind that can only be assuaged by knocking over a liquor store. Not wanting to be recognized, he did what any sensible bandit would do. He fashioned a crude mask by wrapping his head in duct tape. (See above)

Many a stick-up man has used a mask. This is because almost all masks come with a most convenient feature: the ability to quickly remove it. Amateurs. The truly committed low-life uses powerful adhesive to ensure that he is not less identifiable, but unmistakable as the culprit.

Any two-bit con can ditch their Ronald Reagan mask in the dumpster behind Shamrock liquors, then casually stroll back into the store they just robbed to purchase a pint of Georgi. Sprinting from the store wearing the hideous and unremovable visage of a post-apocalyptic mutant? That’s called setting yourself a challenge. A challenge to be the best.

That you will fail that challenge is unimportant. Sure, on seeing you, the liquor store owner will immediately realize that you are an idiot that couldn’t rob a lemonade stand, then tackle you in the parking lot and hold you until the police get there. And yes, when those police arrive, they will remove your duct tape mask and positively and unmistakably identify you. And then they will take you to jail. And then to court.

But once you are in court, you will deliver the coup de grace. You will deny that you are the Duct Tape Bandit. Or, more precisely, you will aver that you’re “not no Duct Tape Bandit.”

I’ll confess, I’m wiping away a tear right now. We won’t see the likes of Kasey Kazee pass this way again. That is, until the next time Kid Rock swings through town.

As for the sum’bitches who stole all that lip-smacking Pappy Van Winkle, well, chances are it’s only a matter of time before the long arm of the law taps you on the shoulder. In his other hand he’ll be holding an empty glass. My advice? Keep a little of that highfalutin hooch on hand and give the devil his due.

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