Well, not Santa himself. Crooks take on all kinds of disguises to fool the law, but one of the sleaziest is dressing up like Old Saint Nick before going out to commit a crime. In this feature, we dig through the holiday police blotters to come up with ten incidents of Claus behaving badly – from shoplifting and public drunkenness all the way up to murder. Enjoy these 10 crimes committed by Santa Claus – he’s been very naughty.
Hermitage bank robbery, 2009
Brentwood, Tennessee man David Cotton needed money and didn’t want to work for it. So he got a Santa suit from his family and walked into the SunTrust Bank in Hermitage with a gun and a big bag for presents. Marching up to a teller, Santa flashed his piece and got away with an undisclosed sum of money.
But that wasn’t enough for Cotton, who tried to extend his holiday-themed crime spree in 2010 by dressing as a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s day to rob a bank in nearby Gallatin. After a firefight with police, the desperate robber fled to a field and shot himself in the head.
Atlanta mall murder, 2004
Working as a mall Santa can test the patience of even Saint Nick. One of the grisliest Santa crimes of all time came in an Atlanta mall in the holiday season leading up to Christmas of 2004.
A man named Elkin Clarke was hired to portray Claus in the mall, but his wicked temper got him in a ton of trouble when he started beating a 74 year old woman with a 2x4, claiming that she had stolen $145 worth of Hershey’s chocolates from him. Whatever the reason, the woman died in the hospital as a result of her injuries and Clarke was sentenced to life in prison.
Berlin Christmas Market Druggings, 2011
They say Santa comes bringing gifts for good little girls and boys, but I don’t think this is exactly what they meant. In December of 2011, a middle-aged man dressed as Santa Claus was seen in Berlin’s bustling holiday markets passing out free drinks to passers-by.
Unfortunately, these Christmas cocktails contained a potent date rape drug, which caused everybody who drank one to start vomiting and lose consciousness. Some of the more than 10 victims even suffered short-term memory loss. The worst thing is that the sick Santa was never caught, which means he could still be out there pulling these shenanigans somewhere.
Parma kidnapping, 2009
If you saw Santa Claus beckoning you from the bushes, what would you do? In December of 2009, a 12 year old girl in Parma, Ohio had to tackle just that conundrum. When she was on her way to school, a man in full Santa suit with a bag of candy canes tried to wave her down from inside the shrubbery.
When she ignored him, he gave chase (carrying a unicycle) and tried to grab her arm and drag her off. She escaped and ran into a nearby store, where the owner called the police. They later caught the man, mentally unstable Anthony Russo, aboard a city bus, still in full Santa suit.
Birmingham house robber, 2011
Usually when Santa comes to your house, he comes down the chimney. And he doesn’t take anything but some milk and cookies. That wasn’t the case for an unnamed 22 year old woman living in the Quinton suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.
When she answered a knock on the door to find a man in a Santa costume, he claimed he was collecting for charity. Unfortunately, the charity was himself, as he swiftly punched the woman in the face and gained entry, followed by an accomplice. The nasty Santa demanded gold from the woman, and when her father came home he also got a beatdown from the fists of Claus. The robber then fled without any spoils.
Jaffa murder, 2012
Israel is a very tumultuous region, where several different religions come to blows on a daily basis over their respective Holy Lands. But the murder of Gabriel Cadis, head of the Orthodox Church Association in Jaffa, is shocking even by Middle Eastern standards.
During a parade celebrating Christ’s nativity, a man in a Santa Claus costume ran up behind the unsuspecting Cadis and drove a knife into his head before fleeing. Cadis was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Six people were arrested in conjunction with the crime, but no convictions have been made yet.
Columbia motorcycle kidnapping, 2006
Santa has a hold over young children, but not all Kris Kringles have good intentions. When a family pulled up to a gas station in Columbia, South Carolina, they were met by a man named John Michael Barton in full Santa regalia driving a holiday-themed motorcycle.
He asked the children if they wanted to come see the stuffed Rudolph he had in the sidecar, then grabbed the eight year old girl and sped off with her. The panicked father gave chase at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, running him into a parking lot and getting his little girl back. Barton was arrested a few days later, hiding out in a storage room at a local bar.
Cisco bank robbery, 1927
Let’s take a trip in the Wayback Machine for this next one, going all the way back to 1927 for one of the most notorious bank robberies in Texas history – and that’s saying something. Marshall Ratliff marched into the First National Bank in Cisco, Texas in full Santa regalia, leading a group of three armed men, and proceeded to clean the place out.
To escape, they took two young girls hostage, but when their car ran out of gas they abandoned it – and their ill-gotten gains. Marshalls eventually caught up with the gang and threw Ratliff into jail for 99 years, but an angry mob stormed the prison and lynched him anyways. That’s what you get for being a fake Santa!
Salem flasher, 2005
A shopping mall can be a venue for all kinds of shenanigans, especially when Santa is involved. In 2005, a 52 year old man named Richard Mullen walked into the Mall at Rockingham Park in full Kris Kringle regalia, but he only had one present to give out. Mullen proceeded to walk up to shoppers and drop his pants.
Thankfully, nobody got a glimpse of his candy cane – he was wearing sweat pants underneath – but he was still escorted out of the mall and charged with disorderly conduct. In February the next year, he was busted again for trespassing in Boston Children’s Hospital with a bag full of condoms.
Next: Hilariously Awkward Holiday Photos
Aziz Yanzdanpanah murders, 2011
Let’s close this list with one of the grisliest Santa-related crimes of all time. Grapevine is known as the “Christmas Capital Of Texas,” a Dallas suburb that really pulls out the stops every December. But it’s not a happy time for everyone.
In 2011, divorced father Aziz Yanzdanpanah dressed up as Santa Claus and paid a visit to his ex-wife and her family at the apartment they were living at. At first, the visit went well, but at around 11:30 AM he pulled out two guns and shot all six family members present before ending his own life. Relatives say that he was upset that his wife was doing well post-divorce and he’d been unemployed for years.