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The Week in Cigar Crime

In my daily ritual of checking the search results for “cigar” on Google News, I came across a slew of stories about cigar and smoking-related crimes all over the world. If we’ve learned anything from Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and Robert DeNiro’s character in Cape Fear, criminals tend to love their cigars as much as the next law-abiding citizen. Anyway, here are a few of the more interesting stories I found:

In Edinburgh, Scotland, two cigar store Indians were stolen in broad daylight from a cigar and whisky shop on the Royal Mile. It was on a particularly busy day, and the owner thinks that someone may have come into the shop to distract him while the suspect(s) made off with the wooden statues. What’s more impressive than the fact that the robbery occurred in broad daylight is the fact that the statues were chained to the store, as they always are, so I can only assume there were bolt cutters involved. The statues are estimated to be worth about £600, or just over $900 USD, and they’ve been standing guard outside the store since the store opened about a year ago. Hopefully the shop owner gets the Indians back and kicks the arse of whoever stole them (or, uh, they’re dealt with properly by the authorities).

Back in the states, in the wake of a bomb scare and a recent crackdown on Cuban cigar shipments, airports everywhere are stepping up security. Last week, U.S. Customs officials caught a father and daughter trying to smuggle 72 unhatched pigeon eggs from Cuba into Miami, FL. The father initially told customs that he was going to use the pigeons for Santeria, an Afro-Cuban religion that blends Christian and African beliefs and sometimes involves sacrificing animals, but eventually admitted that he was going to hatch them and sell them at his Miami pet store. Apparently pigeon racing is gaining popularity, and the shop owner had been selling Cuban-born pigeons to enthusiasts. The two face up to $250,000 in fines and 5 years of jail time for violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits bringing animals into the US without proper declaration

Meanwhile, in Milton, MA, two robbers made off with $300 in cash from the lottery register, as well as the entire regular cash register (because they couldn’t figure out how to open it) and a box of cigars. The story isn’t that ridiculous until you imagine two guys in hoodies and ski masks scrambling out of a convenience store with a giant cash register, presumably spilling pennies everywhere. In a similar robbery in Reading, PA, suspects dreamed a little bigger—while they only took $170 in cash, they made off with about $2300 in cigars and cigarettes before being caught shortly after by two off-duty police officers.

The next crime is different in that the real criminals were those who did the arresting, in my humble opinion (this could probably be a blog of its own). At the Sunburn electronic music festival in Goa, India, a whopping 509 people were booked for smoking in non-smoking areas, as they were in violation of the provisions of the Indian Tobacco Control Act of 2003. The police claimed they were making the arrests to check if people were hiding drugs in their cigarettes, but come on, did they really have to follow through and arrest 509 people for smoking? And imagine how the festival organizers feel—I mean who wants to go to a festival where 509 of the projected 18,000 attendees (just under 3 percent) are arrested under absurd pretenses?

So there you have it—there were plenty more but most of them were along the lines of “cigar nanny slaps innocent smoker on the wrist” or “man steals $27 and a box of Black & Milds.” Does anybody know of any other interesting cigar crime stories?