The Case of the Missing Wallet

This got forwarded to me mainly because of my love for Pittsburgh Steelers football, but it’s an interesting Rohrshach test for editorial decisions on newsworthiness.  Let’s see how Hot Air readers see it.  Pittsburgh police arrested three men at gunpoint for breaking into Heinz Field over the weekend, and if this is all you knew about the story, would it be newsworthy outside of the city?

Three men were arrested this morning after police said they scaled a fence to enter Heinz Field. …

At around 7 a.m. this morning, Heinz Field security reported they saw three men attempting to climb Gate B into the stadium, Sgt. Patrick Knepp of the Pittsburgh Police’s Zone 1 station said.

Security reported the men were unable to climb that gate so they moved to Gate A, where they “used themselves like human ladders” and made it inside the park, Sgt. Knepp said.

Eh.  Sounds a bit like a fraternity prank gone wrong so far.  However, to their credit, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette made it a little more interesting in the second paragraph, which I intentionally omitted in the above excerpt:

Shazad Hosi Mehta, 28, of Elmhurst, Ill., Adil A. Minocherhomjee, 22, of La Jolla, Calif., and Neville Noshir Medhora, 27, of Austin, Texas, were charged with criminal trespass and conspiracy to commit criminal trespass.

Forget the names for a second, and look at the ages and the residences of the suspects.  What are all three doing in Pittsburgh collaborating on a break-in at Heinz Field?  They appear to be too old for a university prank (except perhaps Minocherhomjee), and since they all live hundreds of miles apart, it seems odd that the three of them would get together to do a search and rescue for … a wallet.  That’s what they told police they were doing by breaking into the Steelers’ home field.

Unfortunately, the last time a game was played at the stadium was December, thanks to a mediocre Steelers season.  That’s a long time to let a wallet sit in the stands.  If they wanted to retrieve a wallet, wouldn’t they have called the stadium first to check with its lost and found department?  The Pittsburgh police called the explanation “not credible,” which is a masterful understatement.

The police have turned the case over to the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and the trio was released on $5000 bond pending a hearing on Thursday.  The police have begun increasing patrols in the area, which is a jewel in Pittsburgh’s urban renovation efforts.  It will be interesting to see if they show up for their day in court, and to find out what exactly they wanted inside Heinz Field.

Update: The USA Today report on this apparently has a comment that says the men attended a wedding earlier at Heinz Field.  Perhaps, but if that were the case, I doubt that the Pittsburgh PD would have called the FBI and DHS.  That’s fairly easy to check with the stadium personnel.  How many football stadiums host weddings?  Perhaps more than a few, but the police would almost certainly have double-checked it with management.  And they still wouldn’t have had to break into the stadium to retrieve it.