There's a terrible crime wave sweeping the nation!
Well, OK, there's probably not a crime wave targeting Girl Scout cookies, per se. But when it comes to a few recent cookie-related mishaps, terrible is a pretty good word to describe each of them.
Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for almost a century as a fundraiser, which -- with the widespread popularity of the cookies in the 21st century -- means that the girls get to fund the organization and their local troops while the rest of us sit around the office and get fat. Girl Scout cookie sales are thought to reach hundreds of millions of dollars, by some estimates.
That's a lot of money moving through a lot of hands, and wherever there's money, you can occasionally find somebody trying to sneak a hand into the cookie jar.
The cookie capers seem to target the sweets as often as the cash. Last week, in Mercer Island, Wash., somebody broke into a resident's SUV and stole three boxes of Girl Scout cookies, according to the Mercer Island Patch. They didn't take anything else. Just the cookies.
Climbing up the larceny ladder, back on Feb. 26, the Spartanburg County, S.C., sheriff's office received a report that someone had stolen $18,900 worth of cookies from a local warehouse -- about 5,000 boxes of Thin Mints and Shortbreads.
"I was very saddened," storage owner Brian Carey told GoUpstate.com, adding, "My great-grandfather started this company in 1907, and we don't want anything to tarnish our reputation or the Girl Scouts."
Cookie crime has, of course, always been around. There was the Sandusky, Ohio, police officer arrested in 1992 after authorities found eight cases of cookies and two empty cases worth about $300 in his house.
(The local police chief told the Associated Press at the time that the public shouldn't worry about the police, adding, "They know we don't all have our hands in the cookie jar." So no, we weren't the first ones to use that pun.)
Then, last year, there were the vigilante Scouts from Fort Bend, Texas, who chased after the guy who stole their money box. They started smacking him when he got to his getaway car, but he got away.
(More cop-cookie quotes, which are practically their own journalistic subgenre: "Stealing from a Girl Scout? It's as low as you are going to get," Bob Haenel, spokesman for the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department, told The Times after that theft. "I can put a lot of labels on that, but hardly any of them you can print.")
One year later, and half a continent away, Collin Christian Sawyer, 20, was charged in San Bernardino County with stealing $550 worth of cookie-sales money while zipping by on his skateboard on March 3. A Girl Scout ran after him and fell, hurting herself.
A more successful rescue operation played out in Urbandale, Iowa, on Tuesday after officials said 59-year-old Denise Gordon-Kamm bought $3,000 worth of cookies with a bogus check. A woman with the Girl Scouts went to Gordon-Kamm's house after the check bounced, officials said, and discovered cases of cookies in her car.
The Des Moines Register reported that a police officer then escorted Gordon-Kamm back to Girl Scout offices to return the cookies, which officials said she'd been trying to sell on her own. Some of the cookies were, regrettably, crushed.
But the week's biggest (and brightest) news in cookie crookery comes from Portland, Ore., where the local Scouts had gotten socked with a $24,000 order that turned out to be a prank.
The Scouts thought they'd be stuck with the phony order, but then hundreds of Portland community members chipped in to help, buying up 3,000 surplus boxes. According to the Oregonian, that covered about half of the phony order. Sales will continue next Saturday.
"The girls were so excited," Sarah Miller, director of communications for Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, told the Oregonian. "They were really overwhelmed by how caring the community is."
Sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbl -- oh, forget it.