With 126 pennies jingling in his pocket, Kenneth Boose Jr. strolled over to the Circle K to buy a big drink.
He was standing at the counter when he spotted the black-and-gray cruiser pull into the parking lot.
“My heart started racing,” Boose, 20, said this morning. “I thought, ‘I’m going to jail tonight.’”
Boose was right. Both he and his friend, John Richard Baker, were arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct after deputies say they stole change from the fountain at the Surrey Center shopping plaza on Highland Avenue.
Boose said by phone this morning that he was at his friend’s girlfriend’s house and decided to go for a walk around 4 a.m. Along the way they saw the pennies at the bottom of the dry fountain and decided to take them, Boose said.
“I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Boose said.
A sheriff’s report states Boose had $1.26 in change; Baker had $1.51 in change. Boose said there were no silver coins in the fountain, only pennies.
A passerby witnessed the action and called authorities; the investigating deputy was flagged down by a passerby who pointed him to the two suspects, a report says. Deputy Daryl Oehrlein confronted Boose and Baker, who admitted to taking the money and offered to put it back, the report says.
Boose said Oehrlein planned to let them go, but his supervisor, who is not named in a report, told Oehrlein to make the arrest.
“(The supervisor) said ‘I should arrest both of you for stealing my daughter’s wishes,’” Boose said.
Boose's father, Kenneth Boose Sr., a former Richmond County sheriff's deputy, said he just about passed out when he heard his son was arrested. His surprise only grew as he learned the details.
“I don’t have any clue why they would lock him up,” Boose said. “It’s silly, just silly.”