Minnesota Man Arrested in Girl Scout Cookie Heist, Police Say

Suspect Joel Whittaker
Olmsted County Police Department

Authorities say suspect Joel Whittaker told them he was dumpster-diving when he saw stacks upon stacks of the sought-after baked goods behind a partially opened dock door.

Rochester Police say the Girl Scout Cookie Bandit has been caught for allegedly stealing more than 20 cases of Girl Scout cookies from a loading dock. The value of the cookies is estimated to be worth $1,250, authorities said.

Joel Whittaker has been charged with felony counts of burglary and theft in wake of the cookie heist, according to court documents filed in Olmsted County. If convicted on both counts, Whittaker faces up to a decade in prison and/or $20,000 in fines, WCCO-TV CBSN Minnesota reported.

According to police, the Oronoco, Minnesota, native, was arrested late Saturday night behind the old Fareway Foods building on East Frontage Road in Rochester, said a criminal complaint obtained by WCCO-TV.

Whittaker apparently triggered a dock-door motor alarm at the business, alerting local police to his presence. When they arrived cops say they spotted Whittaker driving away from the building in a small sedan. It was unclear if he was actually eating the cookies while driving, but he did have an open sleeve of the mixed-flavor Girl Scout cookies in the front seat. The back seat and trunk were packed with 23 cases of the sought-after baked goods, according to police. 

Authorities say Whittaker told them that he was dumpster-diving in the GMC dumpster when he saw the loading dock door was partially open, revealing stacked pallets of the goods. Whittaker pulled his car up to the loading dock and began filling his car with cookie boxes, CBSN reported.

When officers took Whittaker into custody, they searched his vehicle and found two stolen license plates, a pry bar, bolt cutters, a used meth pipe, and a small amount of heroin, WCCO-TV reported

Twenty-five of the cookie boxes that were removed from the pallets had reportedly touched the concrete floor and were turned over to police as per the property manager for the Girl Scouts, the complaint said. As for all the other Thin Mints, Samoas, Peanut Butter TagaLongs, Trefoils and the new flavor, Toast-Yay, there are still plenty to go around. The Salvation Army Day Center was the lucky recipient, a report said.

On Monday, Whittaker had his first court appearance. He was released on the following conditions that include random testing and searches, refrain from drinking alcohol and drugs, and acting like a law-abiding citizen, among others, WCCO-TV reported. His next hearing date is scheduled for April 8. He will be represented by a public defender, according to Olmsted District Court.