DOCUMENT: Stupid, Crime

Police Unravel Robber's Toilet Paper Caper

Cops roll Pennsylvania man, 29, after stickup attempt

Toilet Paper

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Toilet Paper Evidence

DECEMBER 29--A stickup note written on a piece of toilet paper led to the unraveling of an ill-advised robbery plot hatched by a Pennsylvania man, cops report.

According to police, Eric Frey, 29, walked into a Uniontown pizzeria Saturday night and handed worker Debbie Taggart a scrap of toilet paper containing an 11-word message written in black ink: “Don’t turn around. I have a gun. Give me 300 now.”

Upon presenting the note to a restaurant worker, Frey claimed that a second armed man was outside the eatery and poised to enter the business. Taggart then surreptitiously hit a panic alarm.

When cops arrived at Michael Maria’s Pizza, Frey was still inside the business, according to a District Court complaint. When confronted by police, Frey claimed that he had been accosted in an alley by a “large black man with a beard and his face covered with a hoodie.” The gunman, Frey added, threatened to shoot him unless he gave the stickup note to pizzeria workers (and then turned over the stolen cash).

As detailed in the court filing first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Lt. Tom Kolencik flatly told Frey that he was not buying his story about the armed mystery man. Kolencik reported that he asked Frey “if we could go to his apartment and see his bathroom and toilet check to see if his toilet paper matched that of the one used in the robbery attempt.”

“Let’s go. I don’t have anything to hide,” replied Frey, who had something to hide.

When police arrived at Frey’s apartment, they spotted a “newly opened pack of toilet paper” atop a table inside the bathroom. One of the rolls, Kolencik noted, had indentations “that matched the exact wording on the piece of toilet paper that Frey handed Taggart.” Next to the roll on the table was “an ink pen that was black ink.”  

The above police evidence photo shows the stickup note alongside the roll from which it was torn.

A further search of Frey’s residence turned up 91 grams of marijuana and used syringes and spoons, according to the complaint, which charges Frey with robbery, theft, and narcotics counts.

Frey--whose rap sheet includes prior collars for drunk driving, drug possession, robbery, theft, and public drunkenness--is locked up in the Fayette County jail in lieu of $25,000 bond. (2 pages)