12 Times A Florida Man Got Arrested Because Of Food

Florida is absolutely one of the most vibrant and enchanting regions of the United States. Demographically diverse and full of a rich history and heritage, the Sunshine State naturally has developed a similarly rich and exciting food culture. One would have a hard time finding a better slice of key lime pie, a Cuban sandwich, some stone crab, or a glass of fresh orange juice outside of Florida.

But with the rise of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle spreading all information everywhere instantaneously (not to mention journalists' especially easy access to the state's police reports, per CNN), Florida has become known for something a bit more unseemly: weird news stories and strange crime reports. Readers know they're in for a completely original and utterly baffling story when they spot a headline that begins with the now ominous moniker of "Florida Man." 

And that's not even considering the fact that food can sometimes drive people to do some pretty outlandish things. It's the root cause, or at least a major factor, in lots of weird, seemingly only-in-Florida news stories that have hit the wire in the past few years. Here are a dozen times when a food-adjacent "Florida Man" really outdid himself — and wound up behind bars because of it.

Florida man angry about a lettuce shortage

In November 2020, according to ClickOrlando, 49-year-old Henry Arce-Cabellero headed to the Checkers fast food restaurant on Ulmerton Road in Largo, Florida late one night. He had a hankering for a sandwich — that much is clear. Now, it's not clear from news reports what kind of meat between two pieces of bread that Arce-Cabellero was after, but one thing was abundantly clear: he really wanted there to be some lettuce on that sandwich. Yet, the employees that took Arce-Cabellero's order had to gently inform the customer that they didn't actually have any lettuce to put on that sandwich.

It just so happened that the lettuce-hungry fast food diner came to Checkers just a couple of days after the FDA announced a romaine lettuce recall over an E. coli contamination. Refusing to take no for an answer, even in the face of a federal recall, Arce-Cabellero allegedly hammered his hands against the glass window of the Checkers drive-through and berated employees. Fearing for the safety of themselves and the more civil customers, Checkers employees called the police. At that point, Arce-Cabellero refused to provide identification to the officers and even attempted to yank his arm away when they initially tried to handcuff him. The angry customer, who was eventually detained, faced charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Florida man tries to trade drugs for McDonald's food

It's pretty safe to say that McDonald's is a big company with a robust point of purchase system. The hamburger chain accepts many payment forms, including several major credit cards, Apple Pay, McDonald's gift cards, and, of course, cash. Yet, there is one green thing that the Golden Arches is not equipped to handle as a form of currency to be used in exchange for food: marijuana. 

That didn't stop at least one man from trying, however. According to the Facebook page of Florida's Port St. Lucie Police Department, authorities in December 2018 arrested a 23-year-old man after an allegedly illegal interaction at a McDonald's drive-through. A franchise employee reported that a man came through the restaurant drive-thru, placed an order at the speaker, and pulled ahead to the payment window. In lieu of cash, though, he attempted to pay for his meal with a plastic bag of marijuana. 

The employee declined the trade and called the police, who hung around the McDonald's for a while, only for the suspect to return and once more enter the drive-through. After noticing the smell of marijuana smoke coming out of the car, police searched the vehicle and found 11 grams of the substance on the man's person. He also admitted that he had, in fact, offered to pay for food with drugs, but that it had just been "a joke." The individual was subsequently arrested and charged with DUI and marijuana possession.

Florida man steals ribs, stuffs them in his pants

Theoretically, the smaller an item on sale at a grocery store, the easier it is to shoplift. Small-time criminals can smoothly slip a pack of gum or another tiny item into their pants or coat pocket and try to make their way out of the store without security guards or cameras noticing them. They often fail to get away with it, however. It's not unlike the tale of 26-year-old Maeli Alvarez-Aguilar, who, in January 2018, according to TCPalm, attempted to shoplift a full rack of ribs from an Indiantown, Florida, grocery store. 

Now, a full rack of ribs — a sizable part of an already large animal (it's not clear if they were beef ribs or pork ribs, but the point still stands) — is a pretty considerable object to heft around. So, to transport it, Alvarez-Aguila allegedly placed the packaged meat down his pants, held in place temporarily by his waistband. 

A Martin County Sheriff's Department sergeant spotted Aguilar-Alvarez as he ca,e out of the supermarket and immediately took the ribs out of his pants. After a cursory search, police found even more items Aguilar-Alvarez had stolen, including nine pieces of fried chicken, a container of mashed potatoes, and two packages of hamburger buns. He'd almost shoplifted an entire cookout, in other words. Aguilar-Alvarez was promtply arrested and charged with theft.

Florida man puts ribeyes in his pants, then removes pants entirely

According to a police report cited by Newsweek, 28-year-old Stefan Short was a known and frequent shoplifter at the Save a Lot grocery store location in DeLand, Florida. When some shoppers told the manager that they'd witnessed Short stuffing packages of raw meat into his pants one Friday night in February 2020, he stopped the man in an attempt to thwart the theft. Short had a rather unique solution to the problem: He took off all of his clothes (leaving the steaks behind) and tried to run out of the store, completely naked and waving his arms around. By that time, police officers had arrived and ordered Short to get on the ground. When the suspect declined to do so, one officer fired his Taser, striking Short twice — once in his abdomen, and the other, shall we say, a bit lower down on his body.

Finally, Short had been subdued. He was taken to a hospital to treat his Taser wounds, then booked in to the Volusia County Jail on charges that included resisting arrest and first-degree petty theft. His attempted bounty of four packages of ribeye steaks and one container of butterscotch pudding amounted to a worth of about $42. In his statement to police, Short claimed that he didn't even remember putting the steaks into his pants in the first place.

Florida men try to start a malicious marinara fire

A lot of foods need to be heated to be properly and healthily enjoyed. But an unattended stovetop can quickly lead to a devastating house fire. That's what John Silva and Derrick Irving were allegedly counting on when they started a fire in the home of a third man, an individual who had previously been in relationships with Silve and Irving. Now, they didn't really need to bring food into their criminal activity, but that's what happened.

Early one morning in March 2018, per ClickOrlando, a resident of DeLand, Florida called 911 to report a break-in after the security cameras in his home sent him a motion detection alert. Footage indicated that a towel had been draped over a camera. When sheriff's deputies arrived at the home, they stopped the car parked outside and questioned the two men inside: Irving and Silva. Irving was dressed in a bull costume and sitting next to an empty jar of Ragu-brand spaghetti sauce. Both individuals told police they hadn't broken into the home but, when police entered, they found a pot of spaghetti sauce boiling on the stove. A washcloth placed by the burner had just caught fire.

"He was trying to make it look like I left the stove on but who gets up 2 a.m. and fixes sketti?" the home's resident and prospective arson victim said. Police arrested Silva and Irving and charged them with unarmed burglary, grand theft, and arson.

Florida man gets angry after he was served a Philly cheesesteak

The greater Philadelphia community understandably takes its famous, signature, namesake sandwich very seriously. The Philly cheesesteak is a beloved local treat, at least as long as it's prepared in what many people consider to be the perfect, traditional way. According to Visit Philadelphia, a proper Philly cheesesteak consists of thinly sliced and grilled beef, melted cheese, and fried onions, all placed on a long hoagie roll. To change up any of that is tantamount to culinary sacrilege and a sin that can upset a dedicated cheesesteak enthusiast even if they're hundreds of miles away from Philadelphia.

According to WFTS, 27-year-old Joseph Lagana ordered a Philly cheesesteak at the Odessa Flea Market in Odessa, Florida. The cashier attempted to serve the sandwich on a sesame seed-laden bun — not a hoagie roll. According to the market's owner, Lagana subsequently caused a disturbance, yelling loudly at and arguing with the cashier over the bread. Deputies were called and reported that Lagana's speech was slurred and he lacked some of his fine motor skills. The cheesesteak purist was booked at the Land O' Lakes Detention Facility and charged with disorderly intoxication.

Florida man calls 911 to request a ride to Hooters

Hooters is one of America's best-known casual dining chains, catering to sports lovers with its many big-screen televisions and a menu offering plentiful beer and classic bar food selections. But the most famous thing about Hooters, the element that draws in crowds day after day, year after year is surely the restaurant's spicy, buttery, Buffalo-style chicken wings. Well, and probably also their scantily-clad, all-female waitstaff. And it was reportedly because of a woman that 28-year-old Jonathan Hinkle of Merritt Island, Florida, desperately needed to get to a nearby Hooters location. 

According to the New York Post, Hinkle dialed 911 and explained his plight to dispatchers: His grandmother had suffered a stroke in the parking lot of the restaurant. He needed a way to get to her, and fast. Rather than send a car, dispatch instead sent police to the nearest Hooters, who searched for the ailing grandmother for three hours, but to no avail. They finally tracked her down at a different Hooters, where she reported that she had not suffered a stroke, nor asked her grandson to help her in her time of supposed need.

Hinkle did get that police escort in the end — to the Brevard County Jail, where he was booked on a charge of improper use of the 911 service.

Florida man violently refuses to share his mangos

Raccoons are wild animals, but the mischievous scavenging they do in order to secure the food they need to survive is largely annoying to urban and suburban folks. These masked bandits of the animal kingdom come out at night and use their tiny, human-like hands to grab whatever sustenance they need from wherever they can. That might include rummaging through a garbage receptacle (thus earning the raccoon the humorous and apt nickname of "trash panda"), or it could mean picking off some low-hanging fruit. Literally. 

Raccoons will eat almost anything, it's said. And one raccoon's taste for the mangos that grew in the yard of an 88-year-old Palm Bay, Florida man was so aggravating that the resident fought back.

According to ClickOrlando, Ezra James was so afraid that the raccoon who visited his yard to steal his mangos would give him rabies that he tried to burn it to death. "I throw some gasoline on him and I light a match," James said. Witnessing the small fire, a neighbor called 911, and police arrested the man. A Palm Bay Police officer had to shoot the raccoon, such was the misery it was in after it had nearly burned alive. James was booked at the Brevard County Jail on animal cruelty charges, but posted this $2,000 bond and was released.

Florida man assaults father with pizza

There aren't many foods more popular than pizza. There's something almost magical about that big round disc of dough topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and assorted meats and vegetables. It's the kind of food that brings people together, not only because almost everybody loves pizza, but because it's sliced into a large number of slices that can be easily shared. It's practically perfect for a group to enjoy together in peace and harmony.

Pizza doesn't always spell a happy occasion, however. It can be used as a weapon, as shown in an ugly incident from January 2019. That's when, according to WFTS, 33-year-old Holiday, Florida resident Robert Houston got into a fight with his father. It escalated to the point where Houston became angry that his dad was partially responsible for his existence. So, Houston he acted out, holding his father to the ground, yelling at him, and stuffing a slice of pizza into and around the victim's face. Then Houston stood up, walked outside, and waited for police to arrive. They did in short order, taking Houston to the Land O' Lakes Detention Facility, where he was charged with domestic battery.

Florida man breaks into house, prepares a snack

As wonderful as food and everything about it can be, the drudgery of meal planning, shopping, and cooking can be a little too much. After all, there's a thriving takeout culture most everywhere in the world because sometimes people get too tired or burned out to cook a meal. Most have probably fantasized about what it would be like if somebody just came to one's house and cooked for them — but that's not quite what happened to James Appelt of Safety Harbor, Florida.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (via Tampa Bay Times), a 19-year-old active-duty Marine named Gavin Trim gained access to Appelt's home through an unlocked door around 4 a.m. in September 2019. Once inside, Crim (who was intoxicated at the time) found his way to the kitchen. After rummaging around to see what looked good, he began to make himself a meal. Appelt awoke and incredulously approached the stranger in his kitchen. Crim then allegedly told him "Go back to sleep" and kept on eating his early breakfast. 

When Appelt said he was going to call the authorities, Crim ran out of the house. Police found him in the swampy woodlands nearby. He was arrested on a felony charge, that of burglary of an occupied dwelling.

Florida man arrested for eating pancakes in a weird place

It would stand to reason that anytime is a good time for pancakes. They're fluffy and golden, topped with creamy butter and sweet maple syrup, and very, very hard to resist. But, according to the Lakeland Police Department, pancakes are a pleasure that should only be reserved for the inside of one's home or the booth of a diner. In March 2017, according to MyNBC15, authorities responded to a call about a pajama pants-clad man sitting in a folding chair in front of a small table, eating a plateful of pancakes. Oh, and he was also doing all of this in a crosswalk in the middle of a busy intersection. 

When police arrived, the man had left, but a video of the incident was soon shared on the Lakeland Police Department's Facebook page. Several people identified the pancakes-eating man in question as 21-year-old Kiaron Thomas. Officers then found Thomas, who lived about 100 yards away from the scene of the crime. When questioned, he admitted that he had eaten pancakes on the street and that he'd done it as a prank. Regardless, he was arrested and charged with the minor offenses of placing an obstruction in the roadway and disrupting the free flow of traffic.

Florida man breaks into restaurant right after another break-in

In November 2018, per the Tampa Bay Times, an officer from the St. Petersburg Police Department was investigating a break-in at a local restaurant known as The Chattaway. He used surveillance videos to watch footage of an unauthorized man entering the kitchen after the restaurant had closed. There, the intruder ate a plate of chicken wings and drank a beer. Looking for clues, the officer reviewed video from earlier on the night in question ... and discovered an entirely different trespassing escapade.

In this completely unrelated incident, a man rode a bicycle to The Chattaway, pedaled around the parking lot for about 10 minutes, then snuck behind a gate. He then opened a storage shed and removed everything in it. Then he gained entry into the building itself and headed to the bathroom. That's apparently where he took off all of his clothes because, when he went back outside, he was fully nude (although Chattaway employees didn't initially find his abandoned garments). At that point, he sat down at a picnic table and ate the food he had brought with him: a package of dried instant ramen noodles.

Police recognized the naked ramen-eating man but didn't publicly reveal his name or decide to press charges. The other man — the chicken wings and beer guy — remained a fugitive of the law at the time of the report, on account of how he stole a laptop, some cash, and several bottles of beer.