Teen Caught Up in $36,000 Chewing Gum Heist


Completing a heist is something most people are fine with leaving to the movies to pull off. A crafty teenager helped steal £30,000 or just over $36,000 of Wrigley’s chewing gum to pay off a debt.

Keon Sanderson was part of the trio that raided a truck filled with chewing gum when the female driver parked at Gloucester Services in the United Kingdom to sleep. They took seven of the 19 total chewing gum pallets by cutting open the side of the vehicle. Sounds like quite the sophisticated operation.

Another driver spotted them and called the police, which sparked a chase along the highway to Cheltenham. The group ended up driving the wrong way on the A40 before dumping their truck near a BMW dealership and fleeing from the scene. The 18-year-old and his co-defendant, Ellis Benecke, were arrested shortly afterwards.

Apparently, Sanderson was “coerced” into the raid to cancel his outstanding debts and would not have profited from the sale of the gum. He played “absolutely no part” in planning the heist and was merely a “foot soldier” for the operation.

“This was very much done under the boot of an individual who was much older than he was,” defence barrister Mandla Ndlou said.

Originally, authorities thought that Sanderson was the getaway driver but now realize that wasn’t actually the case. The teen pleaded guilty to theft, possession of cannabis and failing to provide a breath test, sample of blood or urine for analysis.

Sanderson was sentenced to 10 months in prison, handed 150 hours of community work, fined $240 in court costs and is banned from the road for 18 months for refusing to take a breathalyzer test or give a sample.

“This was a sophisticated and planned operation to identify a vehicle from which goods were to be stolen. I accept that planning was not yours, and you were effectively a foot soldier.

“You were under a certain amount of pressure to perform these actions but at the same time you benefitted by having a debt written off,” recorder judge Richard Mawhinney said.

Benecke was also given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and 140 hours unpaid work for theft and cannabis. He was sentenced at the same court after he too admitted to taking part in the heist to settle a debt.


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