SAN DIEGO — A man who snatched a cash box from a Girl Scout selling cookies in front of a Clairemont grocery store during a several-day crime spree was sentenced Friday to a year in custody, which he can serve in a residential drug treatment facility.
Erik Mullen, 28, pleaded guilty last month to identity theft and misdemeanor petty theft.
On March 9, Mullen stole a purse from a woman at a restaurant, and an accomplice, 20-year-old Brandi Wright, later cashed a check from the purse at a Moneytree store, Deputy District Attorney Kimball Denton said.
Wright tried to cash a check the next day at another Moneytree, but the teller became suspicious and declined, Denton said.
The prosecutor said Mullen later “took advantage of an easy theft opportunity” by grabbing a cash box containing more than $400 in cookie proceeds from a sales table set up by a Girl Scout and her mother outside a Vons store in the Clairemont Town Square shopping center on Clairemont Drive around 3 p.m. on March 12.
Mullen and Wright later used the money to buy heroin on Craigslist, the prosecutor said.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walsh said the case is an example of the worst of society colliding with the best.
“I would say that there are still some symbols in our society that represent innocence and truth and solid values and all that is good,” the judge said. “The Girl Scouts are one of those symbols.
At the same time,” the judge continued, “There is a culture in our society of drug use and abuse that often results in people slowly destroying their own lives and harming those they encounter along their self-destructive path.
I want the message to others to be clear here. Don’t mess with the Girl Scouts! Don’t mess with what is good and wholesome in our society,” Walsh said. “Don’t mess with those who have done nothing wrong and who despite all that is wrong in our society are still able to represent all that is good. If you do there will be severe consequences.”
Wright, who pleaded guilty to identity theft, was sentenced to 180 days in custody, which she can serve in a residential drug treatment program that she is already enrolled in.
Both Mullen and Wright — who had no prior criminal records — were placed on probation for five years.