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Bad Santas: 9 criminals who dressed as Father Christmas

Four people dressed as Santa in a police line up

It might be the happiest time of the year, but some just aren’t in the holiday spirit. Like these people, for instance, who committed crimes while dressed as a (not so) jolly old Saint Nick.

It’s not only children on the naughty list. These are some of the most heinous crimes committed by criminals who decided to dress up as Father Christmas first. Talk about bad Santa.

1. Spiking Santa

In Berlin in 2011, visitors to a Christmas market fell ill after accepting free mulled wine and other drinks. Many suffered from nausea and vomiting, while others lost consciousness and had to go to hospital. Police later discovered that the drinks had been spiked with a mixture of the date-rape drug and ecstasy. The culprit was never found. The only clue: he was dressed up as Santa at the time.

The year before, another Berlin-based Santa robbed a supermarket, stealing over £5,000.

2. Murdered for stealing kisses

Elkin Donnie Clarke was working as a Santa in a shopping centre in Atlanta, Georgia when he was charged with assault after he beat a 74-year-old woman with a board of wood. He alleged the victim had stolen Hershey’s Kisses chocolate off him, worth $145. He then threatened to attack another woman when she got involved. The victim later died of her injuries.

3. Santa stole a helicopter

In 2015, Brazilian police went on a manhunt after a man dressed as Santa stole a helicopter. He had rented it from an airport, before holding the pilot hostage and getting him to stop and pick up another passenger. They then tied up the pilot and left with the helicopter.

4. Armed robbery for elves

Claiming he had to pay his elves, David Cotton entered a Tennessee bank in 2009 dressed in his Santa suit, carrying a big sack and a gun. Once he had filled up his bag with the cash, he escaped. He later robbed another bank on St Patrick’s Day dressed as a leprechaun, but was killed in a shoot-out.

5. The Covina Massacre

In Los Angeles, 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo dressed up as Father Christmas carrying a giant present, before entering a 2008 Christmas Eve party where his ex-wife and in-laws were gathered. Once inside, he proceeded to shoot the guests, before dousing the house in fire accelerant and setting it ablaze. Nine people died in the attack, either from gunshot wounds or from the fire. Pardo died later that night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It was said his motive for the attack was his recent divorce.

6. Smokin’ Santa

57-year-old Randy Lange decided to give some gifts to the community when he started handing out free marijuana wrapped in napkins to people eating at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in California.

7. Boozy Santa goes bad

A bar crawl turned bad in the East Village, New York in 2015 when an EMT for the fire department was arrested for assault. 30-year-old Robalina Giannella was dressed as Santa Claus on a SantaCon bar crawl when she got into a fight with a bartender over her bill. Accusing the woman of overcharging her, Giannella threw a beer glass at the bartender. She was arrested and charged with second-degree assault.

8. Santa steals from kids

Santa is supposed to give presents to children, right? Well, 70-year-old Ronald Papaleoni didn’t stay on brand when he founded a charity to help underprivileged children in Atlanta, Georgia. Unfortunately, it was later discovered he was embezzling funds from his charity—around $15,000 according to prosecutors. He was arrested for five counts of theft.

9. Santa got stuck

One so-called Santa, otherwise known as Jesse Berube, came into some difficulty when trying to get down a chimney. Berube was attempting to commit burglary at the time and broke into the building via its chimney. Berube had to call 911 on himself to get rescued. Unsurprisingly he was also arrested.