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Attempted Shrimp Thief Gets 3 to 5 Years in Prison

If you walk into a supermarket and put $300 worth of frozen shrimp into your cart, you'd better pay for it before you leave.

John Pinard of Worcester, Massachusetts, thought he could get away with the heist (which, as we recently explained, would be properly called a "burglary"). But his attempted shrimp-swiping quickly turned from a standard-issue theft into a bit of a fiasco.

He Really Wants That Shrimp

Pinard waltzed right into a Price Chopper supermarket, loaded his cart with frozen shrimp, and headed for the door, reports the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. When confronted by the store manager, Pinard struck him with a shopping cart. They got into a scuffle, which involved another store employee. Pinard then threatened to stab the employees with a hypodermic needle if they didn't let him go.

Pinard escaped in his Ford Explorer. It could have been the perfect crustacean caper -- except that Pinard left the shrimp behind. Oh, and he also left a pill bottle with his name on it. Police later found Pinard hiding in a closet in his girlfriend's apartment.

Assault With a Shopping Cart

Pinard pleaded guilty to armed robbery, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The "dangerous weapon" was the shopping cart, which sounds silly, but in Massachusetts, a dangerous weapon is anything "so constructed or so used as to be likely to produce death or great bodily harm." If an object isn't inherently dangerous, then the jury has to decide whether it was "used in a dangerous fashion." Massachusetts courts have found a lit cigarette, a car door, and an aerosol spray can (sprayed in the eyes of someone driving a car) to be dangerous weapons.

Like we explained in our post about robbery, burglary, and theft, the crime turned into a robbery when Pinard used force to accomplish the theft. A theft, which is the taking of the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the other of the property, can be accomplished even if the thief never leaves the store, or even if the thief later changes his or her mind.

For his trouble, Pinard received three to five years in state prison, followed by two years of probation. Upon release, he'll be subject to random drug testing. Oh, and he'll have to stay away from the Price Chopper.

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