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'Stupid People' Trick Lures 10 for Arrest

May 10, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Relying on the assumption that people love freebies and can't read foreign languages, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies arrested 10 wanted people on Thursday by luring them to Big Bear to receive a free pair of hiking boots made by "Stockdum Scelestus" -- meant to be a mix of German and Latin meaning "utterly stupid criminal."

The sting, arranged by Sgt. Brooke Wagner and staged by eight other deputies, began with postcards mailed to 160 people wanted on felony or multiple-infraction warrants.

"If this postcard has been sent to you, you have been chosen to participate in this free giveaway. All you need to do ... is come to the Big Bear Elks Lodge," the postcard read.

Wagner wore street clothes for the sting. To get it started, he tucked an empty shoe box under his arm and shouted, "Thanks for the boots," to no one in particular as he walked past a line of people entering the lodge -- where empty boxes of Red Wing and Rockport boots were stacked.

Wagner said he heard someone react with excitement: "Hey! This is real!"

Those summoned to the lodge were asked to present the postcard and identification to a receptionist.

After the identification was confirmed and suspects provided the deputy with their shoe size, they were instructed to walk downstairs to a room, where they were arrested.

"The looks on their faces were priceless," Wagner said.

Those arrested had warrants for offenses such as felony forgery, drug violations and drunk driving.

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