When a theft is under way, one rule that is sometimes overlooked by the criminals -- don't do something stupid that gives the game away -- was ignored again on May 24 when thieves stole 120 small containers of variously flavored ice cream from a vending machine outside the Shell station in Ladera.
"The villains used a credit card to pay for gas" and were caught on a surveillance tape, Sgt. Linda Gibbons of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office told The Almanac.
The suspects, all male and all 17, were each charged with one count of burglary and released to their parents after promising to appear before a judge in the county's juvenile court system.
Two suspects are from Menlo Park and one from Redwood City, Sgt. Gibbons said. Their names are being withheld because they are juveniles.
The scheme began to unravel the morning after when a gas station attendant notified the Sheriff's Office of the break-in. Deputies put two and two together after watching the tape and seeing the youths make several trips to their vehicle, presumably carrying the ice cream, Sgt. Gibbons said.
Deputies traced the credit card, made a call and a youth confessed and implicated two friends.
The ice cream had a value of $225. Most of it was returned, having been stored in a suspect's freezer, Sgt. Gibbons said.