A 21-year-old Escondido man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of committing one of the highest profile petty thefts in county history: stealing Girl Scout cookie money.
After a chase and struggle, David Betancort was arrested on suspicion of swiping a “tip jar” from Girl Scouts selling cookies outside an Escondido supermarket Saturday, law enforcement officials said.
The tips were meant to buy cookies to send to military personnel overseas, a program known as Operation Thin Mint.
After the theft, Girl Scouts were shown on TV news outlets talking about the incident in which a man brazenly grabbed the jar and ran away, laughing. Headline writers at local news outlets dubbed the thief the "Cookie Monster."
The jar contained about $40, said a scout leader, who was able to write down the license plate number of the alleged getaway car.
On Thursday, a half-dozen Escondido police and U.S. marshals descended on Betancort’s home.
As shown on KFMB-CBS8, Betancort broke a window and tried to outrun the law enforcement contingent until he was tackled and subdued.
He was booked into county jail, where he remains on outstanding warrants related to battery and violation of a gang injunction, police said. A petty theft charge will probably be added, police said.
The curly-haired Girl Scouts, when shown the video of the police chase and capture, were ecstatic. The TV reporter asked them to summarize the lessons learned.
"No more stealing our cookie money,” said one.
“Don’t mess with Girl Scouts and don’t mess with soldiers,” said the other.
Betancort, held in lieu of $15,000 bail, is set to be arraigned Friday.