by R.L. McCullough
Santa Barbara, Ca. – When the manager at the downtown Santa Barbara Home Center spotted 39-year-old Michael James Bassett “casually” exploring the contents of a parking lot trash can outside the busy store’s main entrance, he kept a safe distance while observing Bassett retrieve what appeared to be store receipts.
The manager followed Bassett into the store, where the putative patron made his way to the landscape supply area. Bassett located a 20-lb. bag of potting soil, hefted it into a shopping cart and proceeded to the Returns Desk, where he proffered the purloined receipt to the clerk who cheerfully provided a full cash refund for the potting soil.
As Bassett strolled past the checkout area and headed for the nearest exit, he was confronted by the manager who pointed out that the cash in his pocket had been fraudulently acquired.
When police arrived, Bassett was found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked on possession of a syringe as well as on charges of burglary and theft with priors. Bail was set at $20,000, making that a very expensive sack of dirt.