A man trades in the monkey on his back for a new one.
March 27, 2002
There was an article in the Feb. 27 edition of The Shreveport Times titled “Admitted monkey thief sentenced to prison.” Sounds interesting enough. We know that someone stole a monkey (which is certainly unusual) and that the monkey was important enough for the thief to go to prison. That must have been some kind of special monkey. Was it Curious George? Donkey Kong? Grape Ape? Koko? Bubbles? Clyde? Dr. Zaius? Bear? Magilla Gorilla? J. Fred Muggs?
The plot thickens with the lead of the story: “A man who admitted stealing a monkey from a Louisiana State Fair exhibit last year and trading her for crack cocaine and marijuana has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.” Whoa. Hold the bus. Now you’ve got my attention.
Robert Bradford Mills, 34, of Las Vegas, pled guilty to felony theft of Gwendolyn, a not-so-famous 5-year-old African spot-nosed guenon monkey. Mills had a lengthy criminal record already and Gwendolyn is an endangered species. Mills told several different stories to the police – that he had stolen it from a drug house, that he had acted as a fence for three men who had stolen it, that he had stolen it for another man in exchange for $200 and some crack. The Caddo Correctional Center’s booking notes stated that Mills “sold the $7,000 monkey for $2,000 in illegal narcotics.”
Now that’s pretty much how the story was reported. Man steals monkey. Sells monkey for crack and pot. Man is sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. It seems pretty clear-cut and all the loose ends are wrapped up. But the story left me with some nagging questions.
The first is how do you properly steal a monkey? Can you imagine that poor guy trying to coax that monkey into his car with a banana, like Ronald Reagan did to that chimp on the ledge of the building in Bedtime for Bonzo? Did Mills have to abscond with the monkey under the cover of night with nothing more than a black mask, a ski cap, a flashlight and a gunny sack? Can you hear that monkey howling as it’s being forced against its will to go with Mills? Or did the monkey go willingly, thinking, “Anything’s better than this freak show I’m living in.”
Then there’s the value of the monkey in proportion to the amount of crack to consider. How much crack is a monkey worth? If $2,000 worth of crack only amounts to 100 pieces of crack rock, it seems like an exotic monkey would be worth more than that.
And shouldn’t there be some kind of wholesale price when buying that much crack, especially when you’re dealing in volume? That’s how they do it at Sam’s. We know that the monkey was worth $7,000, but are you likely to get an even $7,000 worth of crack for the monkey?
Is there some kind of finder’s fee for this monkey? It’s not like there’s an abundance of monkeys out there just waiting to be picked from a tree and traded for crack. And keep in mind this monkey was an endangered species. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill monkey. That monkey’s got some clout and that ought to be worth a little more crack than what Mills got.
Then there’s the question about the crack dealer. He’s supposed to be a business man. Crack dealers deal crack to make money. They – although apparently not all of them – aren’t in it for interesting trades. What was this guy thinking? Was he thinking that the monkey was an investment, that he could give Mills 100 pieces of rock, turn around and sell the monkey for an additional $5,000? Where do you sell a stolen endangered species, especially an African spot-nose guenon? You’re going to have a hard time placing that ad in the classified section. You might have better luck selling it on eBay.
It also seems like the crack dealer would have had some skepticism in trading his crack for a monkey. If I was considering buying a stolen monkey, I’d want to know a few things about it. Does it have fleas? Does it howl a lot? Is it one of those monkeys that relentlessly pulls its pud or constantly flings its own dirty business at you? Is the monkey toilet trained, does it go on the paper or do you have to buy it diapers? You’re going to have problems when you move a stolen, endangered species monkey into your home. Those little buggers like to swing from things.
I’ll admit I don’t know anything about monkeys or crack, but I felt like this story should have told me more. I’m not saying the reporter didn’t do her job, because she did a fine job. She got me to wondering if there was more to this story than what’s on the surface.
It just seems to me that in this day and age, a monkey – especially one of that caliber – ought to be worth more crack than that.