“Movie-theater floor” ranks right up there with “peep-show booth” and “truck-stop bathroom” in terms of places I wouldn’t want to crawl around. But like all those times I turned down Playgirl, my prudery is hitting me right in the pocketbook. Because apparently a dude who crawled around movie theater floors stealing credit cards at chick flicks was making a cool $70,000 a week. …And the vanities on the Bentley read “STICKY.”
A man who may have stolen as much as $70,000 a week by slithering beneath theater seats while movies were playing and lifting credit cards from women’s’ pocketbooks was convicted Monday of fraud and identity theft crimes.
Anthony Johnson, 49, and a string of accomplices used the stolen cards to collect thousands of dollars in cash advances from Connecticut’s gambling casinos and to make tens of thousands of dollars more in retail purchases in Connecticut and elsewhere, authorities said.
On a “good” weekend, Johnson collected $50,000 to $70,000 from the scheme, one of his accomplices testified last week at his trial at U.S. District Court in Hartford. He had to settle for $30,000 or $40,000 on a bad weekend, the accomplice said.
The accomplice, who agreed to cooperate with authorities, said Johnson, of Philadelphia, typically worked with women accomplices. They bought tickets to motion pictures likely to be popular with female audiences and chose seats from which they could watch how women in the audience stored their pocketbooks.
“Once the movie started, Johnson crawled on the floor, removed credit cards from the stored purses, and returned the wallet to the purses,” according to an FBI affidavit. “Johnson crawled in this manner around the theater until he was done…”
Afterward, Johnson used counterfeiting equipment to manufacture driver’s licenses bearing the photograph of his current accomplice and the identifying information of the owner of the stolen credit cards. Armed with phony identification, Johnson and his accomplices went on shopping sprees.
Johnson was tried and convicted of crimes associated with thefts from the Bow-Tie Cinema in Greenwich, the Gallery Cinemas in Colchester and at Fairfield Cinemas in Fairfield.
During a theft from the Colchester theater on Aug. 15, 2010, one of the stolen credit cards was used at a gas station 52 minutes into a 90-minute feature. Later in the day, the card was used to obtain $4,000 in cash advances and an $863 item from a Coach store at the Mohegan Sun casino.
The FBI said Johnson has been creeping over theater floors since at least 2007, when he was released from prison in a case involving the theft of a diamond in the Philadelphia area.
A jury convicted Johnson Monday of seven counts of unauthorized use of an access device, such as a credit or debit card, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. The access device convictions carry maximum 10-year sentences and the identity theft charges carry additional two-year sentences. [HartfordCourant]
Would the fact that this guy would target “chick flicks” like Eat Pray Love and Sex and the City be considered a “special circumstance?” Hopefully the judge takes that part into account and gives him a lighter sentence.