CHiPs is Supposed to Protect Xboxes, Not Steal Them

Illustration for article titled CHiPs is Supposed to Protect Xboxes, Not Steal Them

Back in my day the men and women of the California Highway Patrol were a shining beacon of hope, justice, and racial diversity. The sort of organization that would never have one of their own arrested for allegedly stealing an Xbox from a Target store.

Things sure have changed since 1983. Today 36-year-old California Highway Patrol Officer Shawn Hammonds is out on bail after being arrested and booked with four counts of burglary. Hammonds is suspected of stealing more than $1,300 from a Vacaville Target location and selling the stolen merchandise via the internet.

He was arrested on Monday after store security caught him allegedly attempting to steal an Xbox 360.

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Hammonds, a California Highway Patrol member for more than five years, was a member of the Protective Service Division, tasked with keeping state buildings secure. He had been on medical leave for several months leading up to his arrest.

This is a dark day for the proud officers of CHiPs. If Eric Estrada were dead he'd be rolling in his grave, and everyone would be even more upset than they already are.

Illustration for article titled CHiPs is Supposed to Protect Xboxes, Not Steal Them

CHP officer arrested after allegedly stealing Xbox [Mercury News]

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DISCUSSION

The-Upsetter
The-Upsetter

"Back in my day the men and women of the California Highway Patrol were a shining beacon of hope, justice, and racial diversity"?

Pffttt, peel me a grape, Fahey.

I worked on this low budget movie back in the late 90's? The production co-ordinator was this kid, nice guy, really. Not one to talk a lot of smack or gossip or take aim at the low hanging fruit.

Anyhoo, so we're hanging out at the office one day with some downtime and nothing to do and we get to talking about weird gigs we've worked on.

I tell him the story about working for some shitty sci-fi/horror/sexploitation studio and how I had to once smuggle the cash payroll for the crew to a shoot in Romania. Sixty grand in one pocket, Swiss passport in the other so I could travel incognito with the fat bankroll, land at Aurel Vlaicu International outside of Bucharest, and be met at the terminal by these two toughs wearing pleather jackets that might have been made from the back seats of some communist country clown car.

"You heff de munny?" They slip me a business card of the sister affiliate studio to prove they're legit, but my Romanian is negligible, and I don't want to insult them by speaking any of the Russian I learned years ago from a black marketeer from Perm I had to show around Seattle. Besides, all I'd learned had been insulting swear words for when I would have to deal with cops.

So I slide the padded envelope across the table we're having coffee at while customs pores over my suitcase and the additional filmstock I brought until I'm supposed to wise up and slip them an American twenty, glad I made sure to buy a L'aguiole with a four-inch blade in Zurich at the duty free while catching my connecting, now nestled in my pocket, thumb on the release in case it all goes south.

But it doesn't. I take another sip of my coffee. The sugar is made from beets, the coffee is made from... Well, it sure ain't coffee. Later I will discover the hard way when mailing some postcards home that the glue on the back of the postage stamps is very obviously made from dead horses.

This is in the days before widespread internet use. Bucharest was still learning what capitalism was all about only seven years after the shit went down and Nicolae Ceaušescu and his wife were put up against the wall and the firing squad didn't have the courtesy to wait for the video crew to turn on their camcorders before they went full auto. So there's not too much information I can rustle up before my trip, but an interesting little tidbit I discover: Bucharest is estimated to have only nineteen functional public toilets.

I was there for a week and a half. They padded their estimate, but not their toilet paper.

There's much more to the story, but I figure that's the right note to end it on.

So that was the story I told to the kid. As you can imagine, what had hopefully turned out to be a bullshit session concentrating on movie star's sexual peccadilloes had suddenly turned a little awkward. Awkward for him because he was younger than me and my boss and had just discovered what kind of cred I actually held, and awkward for me because I've just played what kind of hand I normally deal. I don't want word getting around, have some wanna-be tough guy grip on the crew maybe see how far he can push the quiet guy from the office who now seems to have a rep, you know?

So the kid leans back, realizing he's now got to top this story. He reaches for the cigarettes we keep in one of the filing cabinets. The offices had been used by the actor Matthew Modine recently while he had directed a gangster picture he'd written, some vanity project. We'd found a copy of the script and two cartons of these generics, so off-brand that all these years later I still can't for the life of me remember what the fuck they were called. But they had been written specifically into the script. When fresh they had probably tasted like moose shit mixed with Chinese fiberglass, but they'd just been languishing the last few summer months in an office with no air-conditioning, and here we are smoking them because we can't afford Camels.

Tell you, I ever meet Matthew Modine, I'm going to give him an earful about his shitty taste in smokes.

So the kid lights one up, blowing the foulness out the window, a brief nod to the no smoking in the workplace policy we were studiously telling to go fuck itself on a daily basis. His eyes are darting back and forth, he's got to top this story, but with what?

His shoulders snap back, his eyebrows lift, and he's got it. He leans forward and in a conspiratorial tone, says:

"Oh yeah? Well, I once worked on a movie with Erik Estrada. And he dealt pot out of his trailer."

I reverse to a childhood memory, growing up overseas, American by birth but not knowing how to BE an American, studiously watching the shows from the States in whatever country I was living in at the time, trying to figure out what it was all about over there, in that distant country where Jim Rockford sometimes didn't get the bad guy, where the doctors covered in blood in the operating room traded quips and scalpels over soldiers and Koreans, and where somewhere there was this mythical land called California where the motorcycle cops had like, fifty fucking teeth and were named after English french fries.

"No shit? Ponch?" I asked.

"No shit." He replies. "Ponch. And we're talking weight. He must have had like ten, twenty people a day or more show up. You don't make the trip for just a lousy gram"

"How was the quality?"

He shrugged. "Mexican brick, maybe two steps above dirt weed."

And I leaned back in my chair. And I had to admit, he had me beat. Holy shit... Ponch...

Some CHP officer pinched an Xbox? Peel me a grape, Fahey. I've been around the block. I've seen and done shit that would make Rutger Hauer at the end of Blade Runner shake his head and go "Really?".

But on that day? In that office? A little piece of me died inside, and it was a closed casket funeral.