Officer! Someone Stole My Stash

Melissa Bailey PhotoWhen a burglar made off with his marijuana and $2,800 in cash, Garfield Reid called the cops—and reported his ganja generosity had come back to bite him.

Reid (pictured), who’s 80, recounted the story Tuesday evening in his Vernon Street home in the Hill, a block away from Yale-New Haven Hospital.

First he told his story to the cops. Then he removed a metal bed frame that was blocking his broken front door and let a reporter inside.

The Jamaican-born retiree walked down the hallway to the scene of the crime—a first-floor smoking den piled high with papers, cigarettes, bicycle parts and single-portion packets of Smucker’s peanut butter.

Reid said he lives on the second floor with his wife. Tuesday afternoon, he left the house to go to an eye doctor on Chapel Street. His wife left shortly after.

“I came home at 4:30, just when it was getting dark,” he said. “I put the keys in the door,” and it swung right open. It turned out someone had pried it open with some kind of crowbar.

Reid looked in the first-floor living room, where he often gathers with friends to smoke marijuana. He noticed that someone had moved his small black backpack, which he had used to store his stash and some money. He looked inside and found it empty.

He called the police to report that someone stole his marijuana and a large sum of cash. It wasn’t expensive marijuana, he said, just the “regular” kind.

A police dispatcher relaying the message issued an alarming report: $3,000 worth of marijuana had been stolen from Reid’s home.

“I came right over” upon hearing that call, said Lt. Holly Wasilewski, the Hill’s top cop.

At 6:30 p.m., she stood in Reid’s house with another police officer, taking his report.

Wasilewski emerged from the house shortly before 7 p.m. into a light drizzle.

“It wasn’t what it sounded like,” she said.

She learned the theft had been of approximately $3,000 in cash, not reefer. She said Reid didn’t witness the crime, and police had no way to track down who did it.

Lt. Wasilewski said Reid gave a straightforward report.

“He admitted ‘I don’t mind smoking now and then,’” she said.

After she left, he said honesty was the best path, even though he had a lot of explaining to do when police arrived.

He reported to cops that he was missing 1 or 2 ounces of marijuana and the $2,800 in cash. He said he knew that made him sound like a drug dealer.

“I don’t sell drugs, I buy drugs,” he said. He said he accumulated the money over the course of many months, little by little, during trips to the bank to withdraw Social Security checks. He was saving it up to buy some more smoke and Christmas presents, he said. The money was his hidden reserve: “Not even my wife know I keep so much here.”

“I tried to be secretive with it,” he said, but he suspects “somebody knew.”

He suspected the person was someone who had been inside the house to smoke with him before. He said he often invites people in to share a joint.

“I’m just a social person,” he explained. “I’m old now. I can’t just sit here on my own.”

He said his generosity has extended to many parts of life. For starters, he always buys Newport menthol cigarettes any time he’s picking up a pack of Marlboros, even though he never smokes menthols. Everyone else smokes menthol, and they might need a puff, he explained.

Reid immigrated to the States 42 years ago, following his wife’s family to New Haven. He worked for years as a mechanic, then went on to become the first black business owner in North Haven, where he ran his own gas station, he said. He bought and rented properties.

Over the years, he has helped other people move from Jamaica to New Haven, and helped them find work when they got here, he said. He gave away houses to some of his nine children.

And he always shared his smoke.

“I try to help people all my life,” he said.

That generosity has punished him time and again, he reflected Tuesday evening.

“I’m too generous. I help too much people.”

About two months ago, he invited a couple in to smoke, and they ended up begging him for money for Pampers diapers and bus tokens. When he finally gave them a couple of bus tokens, the girlfriend made for the door.

“She grabbed my herb and run out with it,” he recalled. He ran after her, but she was too quick.

Tuesday was the first time anyone had broken into his Vernon Street house for marijuana, he said.

He said he chose to tell the cops about it because he wanted a police report documenting that someone had harassed him. The marijuana was a relevant part of the report, he reckoned, because that was likely the reason they broke in.

“They were after the marijuana, but the money was in the bag, too,” he said. He said he has an idea who the culprits might be—his wife spotted three people in their late 20s on the porch on her way out of the three-family home—but he didn’t know who they were.

He said he wanted cops to have record that he had been “harassed,” in case the intruders come back.

“If I’m here,” he said, “I’m going to hurt them very bad.”

“I have a piece of security,” he said, picking up a splintery piece of wood.

Wasilewski and Sgt. Rich Miller popped back in a few moments later to report that they had canvassed the block and found no one who had witnessed the crime. Canvassing didn’t take long: The two-story home sits on a block of the Hill near Yale-New Haven Hospital that is half boarded-up and vacant. The hospital has slowly bought up the land over time; much of it consists of empty lots.

Wasilewski said having someone report missing drugs is unusual. She said there’s no reason to pursue charges against the elderly man. Police have never had problems with his house, she said. And she pointed out that possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana is now an infraction, not a misdemeanor—similar to a speeding ticket. Reid didn’t have any marijuana at the time they showed up to his house, anyway.

In cases like these, she said, “we appreciate someone’s honesty.”

For his part, Reid said he learned a lesson about safely storing valuables.

“I don’t think I’m going to keep anything like that here again,” he said.

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posted by: Jay on December 7, 2011  12:37pm

The cigarette smoking is what’s appalling!
Stop enabling the destruction of yourself and your friends with that crap!

posted by: Curious on December 7, 2011  12:52pm

Just another day in East Baltimore, circa 2005.

posted by: Hash Man on December 7, 2011  2:35pm

@Jay. You funny because the guy is 80 years old and clearly has been smoking marijuana for a very long time. He’s already surpassed the average U.S. age for death and I’ll bet he’ll live longer than you because he’s relaxin’ with some very good weed. Learn from the wise.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 7, 2011  2:35pm

It most likely saves him a ton on pharmaceuticals that kill ya anyway.
Lets get real it should be legal in the US. The oil and pharmaceutical company’s are the only reason it is not! It would take a large amount of dealers out of the community’s and they could open up business. The tax collection would be in the Billion every year. Not to mention the tax dollars saved on policing it. It would create jobs. It could be used to make clothes and fuel construction material with out kill what is left of our forests. It cleans brown fields! It can be grown anywhere.

Sorry it is all about the rich getting richer and that is it. God forbid the people could grow there own medicine (mary jane can replace at the least 70 commonly used pharmaceuticals). In CT we have the votes to at least pass the medical… but no they have to pay for a study to keep the very few that are against it.  While people with MS and Parkinsons and cancer all sit around waiting for a better option to be made legal.

posted by: L on December 7, 2011  3:36pm

To the NHPD:

Truly, thank you for your compassion.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 7, 2011  4:07pm

Ras Matthew - Ganja in my Brain

posted by: South West on December 7, 2011  4:45pm

At least he was honest. He haven’t shot no one, just “puffing a little pot” leave the old man alone. Just maybe if some of these crazies smoked a little they would find peace instead of violence’‘’.

posted by: Caryn Zlamany Rickel on December 7, 2011  6:12pm

Funny story for todays times ! I do
appreciate his honesty. They say honesty is the best policy !

posted by: Lifer on December 7, 2011  6:29pm

Is that patch of blue on the right side of the photo a Geri-chair from Yale-New Haven Hospital?

posted by: robn on December 7, 2011  8:02pm

Maybe the thieves will have a change of heart….

And what happened, then?
Well, in Hillville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Rastas, plus two!
And now that his chest didn’t feel quite so tight.
He whizzed with his stash through the bright morning light
With a smile to his soul, he descended East Rock
Cheerily blowing “Hill! Hill!” on his boom box.
He road into Hillville. He brought back his weed
He brought back his floof without any seed
He brought back his snoof and his tringlers and fuzzles,
Brought back his pantookas, his dafflers and wuzzles.
He brought everything back, all the food and treatos
And he, he himself, the Grinch opened the first bag of Cheetos.

posted by: Morris Cove Mom on December 8, 2011  10:24am

His neighbors should be concerned about the drug use, the people in and out, and the hoarding.  One day the house will be condemned or full of rats, or both.  It is not okay to live this way.  It is just not safe.

posted by: roger huzendubel on December 8, 2011  12:00pm

This guy is no threat to anyone, and very honest as well. We need more people like this in New Haven. Since everyone seems to be calling for public marches and rallies against I will be holding a march to increase pot smoking. Our chant will be “we have no hope we might as well smoke dope”.

posted by: John Legaleyze on December 8, 2011  12:24pm

@ Morris - Wow! Look, we found the Grinch.

1. He’s not hording, he’s 80 y/o and its clearly a “cluttered home” from being lived in for years and when your poor and 80 that’s not uncommon. The man and his wife have nothing cept what you see there. My 82 year old mom has the same exact issue. You see the front of the home? It looks just fine. The area is just cluttered, its not hording. Try living on ss money only and it gets very rough at times. I know as my ex-wife is now on it at age 53 from a disability she suffered last year. Very rough to keep your place uncluttered trying to stay alive in this economy. Now I’m a single father of 2 daughters and I can’t keep my place uncluttered either. Know the difference.

2. He looks clean and he’s dressed very nicely. I hope I can keep myself looking decent at 80, if I make it since for men life expectancy is 75.

3. He opens up his home and heart to a few people so that they may enjoy life and he’s clearly been doing it for years without issue. What a beautiful, kind, generous, man. I got that from the story. Did you? Nice to still have people like that in the world.

4. The hash is really a side story to show that an 80 y/o man smokes it and its not a big deal. I know because I do it too like you might drink wine. To each their own which is why it should be legal (and so its the side story showing how its not a big crime to the police anymore). The real issue here is that someone stole his SS money which he was saving up for gifts for others. And what a kind man as shown by his generosity to give homes to his kids. He even admits being to generous and trusting. He was honest with the cops and even they had no issue with it (they heard he lost $3000 worth of weed and that set them off with extra concern which is in the story).

So the story is about an honest, open hearted, kind generous and clean dressed older man that was robbed of his belongings and money.

And your focus is on condemning the home and rats when it wasn’t part of the story. Sad and shame on you Grinch.

posted by: robyn fan on December 8, 2011  12:27pm

robyn red-breast
leaves worms and bugs
sweetly undisturbed
hunting and pecking instead
for noggin treats and
spelling feats, loving
worldly weird words
birthed by happily
hooked hooked humans
holding salt, fat and
close to their fragile hearts

posted by: jay on December 9, 2011  1:06am

Hash Man—I was referring to the extra CIGARETTES he buys for himself and his friends. Sure he is 80 years old, and inhaling 800 degrees of cigarette smoke (along with his “regular” kind of weed).

Just cuz you make it to 80 doesn’t mean you’re living well. What can I say… if you’re inhaling marlboros or newports you’re basically a crackhead and you don’t even know it! We just tolerate the compulsive huffing of legal chemical cigarettes as a society. the supply never runs out, so no one ever freaks out.

posted by: jay on December 9, 2011  2:01pm

please don’t confuse me with the tobacco prohibitionist “jay” above. i wouldn’t dare criticize reid for smoking.

posted by: mikehaze on December 11, 2011  2:23pm

Smucker’s makes peanut butter???

posted by: Hash Man on December 11, 2011  5:44pm

@Jay. Okay. I’m not into cigarettes either. Wouldn’t say its like crackheads but will agree that smoking is a proven killer. Marijuana is a no.
btw: All you people against legalizing pot. Uncle Sam is giving it out and guess what? The research is positive but you won’t hear that from the DEA and… did you know the U.S. government has a patent on Cannabinoids? How’s that for a conflict of interest.

Check out Patent: 6,630,507 . Then check out this article.