You could say a fundamental rule of a disguise is not to make it too recognizable. That test is one a serial porch pirate apparently flunked in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week, when police arrested him after observing him wearing underwear as a mask.
"Unusual and questionably effective," is how the Tulsa police department described the alleged thief's choice of getup in a social media post. Read on to find out what went down, and why this may not be the strangest porch piracy case in recent weeks.
An Innovation in Robbery: Thong As Mask
Tulsa police were tipped off about a porch pirate case in the western region of the city on Jan. 6. As part of their investigation, they reviewed surveillance video and were able to identify the suspect's vehicle. What's more: One officer recognized the suspect from other porch pirate cases where the suspect was wearing women's underwear as a mask. Surveillance video showed the suspect wearing a pair of red panties over his head.
They appeared to be of the thong variety. This left a sizable portion of the porch pirate's head exposed, revealing identifiable traits such as facial features and a distinctively receding hairline.
Police obtained a search warrant for the suspect's home, where he was arrested. Local media reported that Spencer Gougler was booked on five counts of larceny, knowingly concealing stolen property, and grand larceny. He was released on $17,000 bond. On Jan. 7, the police department announced the arrest of a "porch pirate with an unusual and questionably effective mask" on its Facebook page. They tagged the post #PantiesAreNotAMask. Commenters didn't hold back.
Social Media Reacts
"It's a panty raid," cracked one commenter on the Tulsa police department's Facebook post. "Panty hose! Criminals wear panty hose to hide their faces!," offered another, helpfully and too late. "RED," exclaimed another commenter about the burglar's chosen color of disguise. "That's like running from the police in the dark with your child's light up shoes on." "Leads one to suspect the undies were from a previously stolen package and he was just searching for the matching bra?" theorized another.
A Porch Pirate Viglilante
Thanks to the boom in online shopping and home package delivery, porch piracy is a widespread problem. Porch pirates stole an estimated 260 million packages in 2021. Some people are fighting back. Last month, WRTV reported on a resident of Indianapolis who took matters into his own hands after an outbreak of porch piracy in his neighborhood.
He booby-trapped a package with his pet dog's poop and set it outside. When a porch pirate nabbed the box, he was alerted by his doorbell camera. He jumped in his car and followed the pirate's car to a nearby grocery store. "I waved at her because I didn't know what to do. I'm from the Midwest, right? And she waved back," he said. He then recorded the car's license plate number and reported it to police.
A Case of Pirates' Remorse
In some cases, porch pirates have experienced remorse. That's what happened in Texas on Dec. 14, when porch pirates returned stolen packages to a homeowner's doorstep and apologized. "The fact that they were able to say. 'Okay we're going to step out – even in fear and do the right thing,' is big," said Bryant Clark, who accepted the pirates' apologies. "The level of courage in that, I have to respect. I've been a young man before. I've made foolish decisions. I think we all have. I believe grace is something given when not deserved, and we have to give it."