The latest “hard to believe” entries from the industry-related police ledger include a break-in by a man who crawled along a tiny space above an Illinois course’s clubhouse and dropped through the ceiling into the women’s locker room, only to pass up valuable golf shop wares to instead steal chicken wings and hot dogs. In Thailand, a Japanese gangster was collared for using golf equipment to smuggle illegal drugs.
From one criminal passing up thousands of dollars in golf equipment and apparel for chicken wings and hot dogs, to another using a golf bag to transport illegal drugs, the golf industry continues to contribute its share of mind-boggling crime stories to the police beat.
In Waterloo, Ill., investigators confirmed that the man accused of burglary at AnnBriar Golf Course is a suspect in at least five recent area golf course break-ins, Fox2/News 11 out of St. Louis, Mo. reported.
The first of the five, at Arlington Greens Golf Course near Granite City, appears to have been quite an adventure, Fox2News11 reported. It happened on a morning near the end of February around 5 a.m., and mirrored the break-in at AnnBriar, which happened a week later.
Arlington Greens General Manager and PGA professional Mark Marcuzzo told Fox2/News 11 that the suspect, identified as Cameron Crockarell, used a pry bar to break into a golf cart storage shed, and then tore open the vinyl covering over a hidden access point above the ceiling of the clubhouse.
“He gets up here on these two coolers, you can see his shoe prints, and he goes through a spot that’s 18 inches to 20 inches wide,” Marcuzzo said. “Which is bizarre—I didn’t even know that existed.”
Crockarell then crawled along a tiny space above the ceiling for 16 feet before dropping through into the women’s bathroom, Marcuzzo told Fox2/News 11. Once there, he allegedly managed to get into a safe. There was very little money in it, but it was stolen along with a course worker’s autographed memorabilia, which was in storage.
The remarkable thing, Fox2/News 11 reported, is what the intruder left behind: thousands of dollars’ worth of golf clubs and apparel, just like at AnnBriar, where authorities said he stole frozen chicken wings and hot dogs.
“I was absolutely stunned that he didn’t take anything else out; absolutely stunned. There’s a nice amount of merchandise and other things like that here,” Marcuzzo said.
Crockarell, 50, of Granite City, Ill., was charged with burglary and property damage for the AnnBriar break-in, Fox2/News 11 reported. More charges are likely for golf course break-ins in Madison, Monroe and Macoupin counties, with stolen items from the other courses found in Crockarell’s car when he was caught at AnnBriar, authorities said.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a 57-year-old Japanese man who is an alleged former member of a gang in the Yakuza criminal syndicate was arrested by Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police at a condominium in Bangkok, Thailand’s Huai Khwang district, the Chiang Rai Times reported.
Kazuhiko Ono was taken into custody March 12 and police also seized crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and one ecstasy pill, the Times reported.
The arrest came after a Japanese compatriot filed a complaint with the Japanese embassy, charging that Ono tried to trick him into smuggling an illicit drug into Japan, the Times reported. According to investigators, Ono took a golf bag containing seven clubs out of the condominium on March 2 and went to see a Japanese friend who was about to leave for Japan. He asked his friend to hand the golf clubs over to another friend in Japan.
However, his compatriot became suspicious, according to the Times report. Three of the golf clubs were old and seemed heavy. Each weighed about 545 grams, whereas they would normally weigh 200-300 grams.
The friend grew suspicious about the unusually heavy golf clubs and alerted the Japanese Embassy that he feared he was being used for narcotics smuggling, the Times reported. The embassy then coordinated with the CSD on March 5 to investigate this case.
During interrogation, Ono denied all charges, the Times reported. He admitted to being a former member of the Japanese Yakuza, but said he had cut off his little finger and left the gang. He later began a tour business in Thailand, he said, and insisted he was not aware there were drugs inside the golf club head covers.