Dear Philly Bars and Restaurants: If You See This Guy Coming, Lock Your Doors
Just when we had all but forgotten about the strange tale of accused serial restaurant thief Janeen Thomas — but we’ll get back to her in a minute — comes another strange tale of a strange person who is accused of stealing from restaurants: Michael Villalpando.
The 25-year-old man, who appears to hail from the East Falls section of Philadelphia, first came onto our radar over the weekend thanks to a Facebook post by 12th Street’s Institute bar. The Institute posted Villalpando’s photo, saying that they called the cops on him a few months back after he ran up a $60 tab but didn’t have the money to pay it.
Here’s more from that post:
I got a very bad vibe from him so we called 911. He is very small, 4’10, uses a cane, and is soft- and well-spoken. It is easy to feel sorry for him. Don’t. Upon arrival at my bar, the arresting officer recognized this man immediately and called for back-up. … If he comes into your bar/restaurant, ask for his ID. It’s expired. If you choose to serve him, it’s likely he has no money and his sister will have to leave her job to come pay his tab — something she does often. … We are not without compassion for those in need of help. This man knows right from wrong and is well aware of what he is doing.
The Institute claims that when the cops showed up, they told the restaurant that Villalpando was being arrested on other charges, and the restaurant declined to press charges for the theft. But we didn’t find any indication that he was charged with any other crime, and the Philadelphia Police Department tells us that they have no outstanding warrants for his arrest.
What we did find, however, was an extensive criminal history in Philadelphia, York and Adams counties, mostly for theft of services, which is what they call it when you go to a restaurant and dine and dash or run up a big tab and then are not able to pay it. There is also a history of mental health evaluations in Villalpando’s court record.
Villalpando, whose name sometimes appears as Villapando, pleaded guilty to theft of services on several occasions and spent time in jail for the crime. Then in 2014, he pleaded guilty to burglary in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Palumbo sentenced Villalpando to up to five years probation. And just last week, on August 20th, he was arrested again and charged with theft of services at Samy’s Tavern on Woodland Avenue in West Philadelphia after running up a $16 tab. He is no longer in custody.
Meanwhile, according to Jose Pistola’s and Sancho Pistola’s co-owner Joe Gunn, Villalpando has been telling people that he works at Sancho Pistola’s and that he’s Gunn’s son. Gunn’s partner, Casey Parker, tells us that Villalpando used to go into Sancho Pistola’s. “We are sometimes a magnet for the absurd,” says Parker.
So if you see him sitting down at your bar, best to just nicely send him on his way (and then go warn everyone else in the neighborhood).
Now as for Janeen Thomas, who was accused of stealing from Chris’ Jazz Cafe, Fado and Vedge, among other Center City establishments, she pleaded guilty to the Vedge theft in June and was scheduled to be sentenced on August 12th — except she never showed up for court and is now on the lam. You’ve been warned.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.