COLUMN:To the vultures go the Shop-Vacs

Tim Paluch

A great thinker – either Caesar or Keanu Reeves, I believe – once said, “To the victor go the spoils.” Well, I’ve got a new one: “To the vultures go the Shop-Vacs.” It’s fitting. Trust me. Just ask Bradley Holtan.

Holtan, a junior in forestry, just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right vehicle and the right lack of morals or respect for other’s property Tuesday to cash in on the misfortunes of the Bochik family, who were evicted from their apartment by property owner Ev Cochrane. The family’s belongings were scattered on the curb, where scores of despicable looters – most of them students – decided these items were all of a sudden public domain, free for the taking.

Cochrane claims he gave Bochik ample warning and was just doing his job. Kind of like O.J. is just looking for the killers.

(Side note: O.J. recently confirmed that while it appears as though the killers are not hiding out on Florida golf courses, his search will continue. Possibly on Arizona golf courses).

Cochrane said he offered a garage to the Bochiks, but Bob Bochik did not move his things. Cochrane could have hired someone to move the belongings into the garage and then add the costs to what Bochik already owed him. Certainly, Cochrane didn’t have to do this, but it would have been a lot more humane than leaving the family’s things out for scavengers and vultures like Bradley Holtan.

Holtan picked up a Shop-Vac and a leather recliner Tuesday. But, thankfully, he felt bad about it.

Check that. Kind of bad.

“I feel kind of bad [they] lost their personal stuff,” Holtan told the Daily. This is a fair statement, except for the fact that it is utterly stupid.

Hey Bradley, I ran over your little sister’s pet hamster with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Twice. Then I stole her new pink bike merely to break it into little indistinguishable pieces in front of her while she watched in horror. Is saying I felt “kind of bad” gonna stop her from crying herself to sleep tonight? I think not.

Holtman might as well have said, “I could have taken everything Bob Bochik had, burned the apartment building to the ground, urinated on the ashes, and hunted down his family, kidnapped his daughter and broken Bob’s legs with a Louisville Slugger. But like I said, I felt kind of bad. So I only took the recliner and the vacuum.”

We as a civilized society have a name for Holtan – thief.

And we as a civilized society have a place for people like Holtan – prison.

When inner-city blacks loot and steal on the streets of Los Angeles, we call it “rioting” and condemn entire neighborhoods. When Bradley Holtan does what can be considered the same thing, he can say he feels “kind of bad” about it and he gets to keep the recliner.

Would Holtan feel “kind of bad” if someone stole the stereo out of his unlocked car parked on a public street? Or if his unattended clothes were taken from a washing machine? Same situation if you ask me.

Not since “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” have I been this ashamed of the human species. And even then, Screech Powers provided us with the occasional slapstick one-liners we all learned to love. Holtan provides us with no such relief.

Now to be fair, let me say that Holtan is just one of many who committed these horrible acts Tuesday.

But I think I’ll go ahead and single him out anyway.

Holtan is like Robin Hood. If Robin Hood worked for Enron. He steals from the poor and gives to. well, himself.

I don’t know Bradley Holtan personally, but I do know my watch is missing, and right now he’s suspect numero uno.

Chances are, Bradley and the rest of the vultures won’t be prosecuted, even though they clearly violated the law. Holtan and his fellow criminals are despicable.

If there’s one thing worse than a thief, it’s a thief who feels kind of bad about it, but goes ahead and takes the Shop-Vac home anyway.

And here’s another thing to keep in mind: It’s a well-known fact in criminal justice circles that Shop-Vac theft is a “gateway crime” to more serious crimes, like assault, murder and voting Republican.

Ted Bundy got his start shoplifting cleaning supplies from Sears. Charles Manson worshipped a Dirt Devil. And Jeffrey Dahmer once ate a door-to-door vacuum salesman.

So keep an eye on your commercial wet/dry vacuum cleaners. Make sure you know where your children are at all times. Lock up your wives and daughters. Holtan’s satisfied his Shop-Vac thirst. Now it’s time for blood.

Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.