Industrious Homeless Man Breaks Into Shuttered Bar To Start Selling Booze

It’s like something out of a whacky comedy movie — Homeless man breaks into bar that recently shut down, decides to pretend he’s the new owner and starts selling drinks. But this wasn’t some laugher starring the hilarious Steve Guttenberg; it’s exactly what authorities in a small Northern California town have arrested a man for doing.

According to police, the 29-year-old transient had heard that a bar he’d once worked at had lost its liquor license and closed its doors. So he did what any entrepreneurial homeless person would have done — broke in, turned on the lights, put an “Open” sign out front and went into business for himself.

Not having any booze to sell at first, the man had to run across the street to a store to purchase a six-pack of beer that he then re-sold, hopefully for a profit.

The plug was pulled on all the fun when a local newspaper ran a story about the bar being reopened and a local police detective recognized the new owner’s face. The detective went to check it out for himself and found the recently homeless man slinging booze and beer to customers.

But since it’s illegal to do things like break into someone else’s property and sell liquor without a license, the bar was once again shut down while all the cash and booze was confiscated by authorities.

The faux bar owner has been charged with burglary and selling alcohol without a license.

Homeless Man Breaks into Closed Northern California Bar, Sells Beer [L.A. Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Imagine if he had actually gotten the license and permission from the owner to use it to sell alcohol.

    Might have been a happy ending.

    • trentblase says:

      Well the original bar shut down, so there probably wasn’t enough business to be profitable under legal circumstances. However, if you forgo rent and insurance, that’s another story.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    In the words of Captain Hammer: “I hate the homeless…ness problem.”

    • Kohl's Retail Monkey says:

      It may not feel to classy
      begging just to eat
      but you know who does that? Lassie.
      And she always gets a treat.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It was curtains for the homeless man. Lacey, waffley curtains.

  3. pantheonoutcast says:

    I don’t know….this sounds suspiciously like a metaphor for the illegal immigration problem.

  4. Darrone says:

    He’s guilty of stealing… my heart. This guy is awesome.

  5. Cicadymn says:

    I’d be interested to hear if he was turning a nice profit. He was obviously making enough to keep buying more booze to sell. If he wasn’t arrested for it and the owner of the bar couldn’t/wouldn’t run it or turn a profit.

    He sounds like a damn good bar owner, even though he doesn’t own one.

    • sixseeds says:

      Profits are easier to accrue if all you only need to spend for new materials. Presumably he wasn’t paying rent/utilities/employees/insurance/licensing.

    • Southern says:

      The owner wasn’t allowed to run the bar because his lliquor icense was pulled. The story didn’t say why (it was pulled).

      • dangerp says:

        Based on other articles (, it looks like he just shut down due to financial issues and just forfeited his liquor license.

    • dangerp says:

      Heard about this on the radio this morning, and the town is nearby where I live. Apparently, the original place was a locals spot. The story on the radio said that he used the profit from the six pack to buy more booze. By the end of the weekend he had about 11 bottles of vodka, whiskey, etc.

      The best part of the story was a local who called in, and said that he thought it was strange when he talked to the new “owner” out in front of the bar, and the guy said “stop on by, I’ve got beer and bloody mary mix!”

  6. c!tizen says:

    Hey, at least he was trying.

  7. smo0 says:

    Selling a 6-pack, having a newspaper article? what time frame was this?

    • smo0 says:

      Ah 3 days… had to have been more than a 6-pack?
      I dunno that’s a poorly written article….

    • coren says:

      He started with a sixer, and ended up with quite a bit of cash and liquor according to that article.

  8. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Burglary? Trespassing yes, but at least here in Texas the burglary statute has an intent to steal clause.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Well burglary is traditionally premised on “breaking and entering a dwelling house at night with intent to commit a felony therein.” But most places have changed that to be any building and any time of day, but keep intent to commit a felony. So if by selling liquor without a license he was committing a felony I could see that easily being within a state burglary statute. But admittedly I don’t know California’s burglary laws.

      • 50ae says:

        Entering a premise or dwelling, locked vehicle whether occupied or not with the intent to commit a theft, petty theft or any felony is basically Cali’s burg law.

      • cloudedknife says:

        it would be entering or remaining unlawfully in a structure with intent to commit a theft or other felony there in in arizona. likely 3rd degree being that he wasn’t armed, and the structure wasn’t residential.

        commonlaw is what you stated, though in the common law it is “the dwelling house of ANOTHER…” with intent to commit a larceny or felony there in. At common law therefore this would not be a burglary because while it is a structure of another it is not a dwelling house.

        I take the AZ bar Monday…here’s hoping I’ve got the other 16subjects down as well as I do criminal law>.

  9. PunditGuy says:

    He can write a book or blog about it — “Guerrilla Capitalism” — and make a fortune on the lecture circuit. All he needs are a few truisms on a PowerPoint slide, and he’s golden.

  10. Sarcastico says:

    So much for trying to do something for yourself. The state would prefer you sign up for Section 8 housing and wait around for unemployment benefits. I admire the man’s initiative.

  11. wellfleet says:

    Dibs on writing the screenplay!

  12. hosehead says:

    Sounds like he isn’t homeless any longer.

    I don’t blame him, but he did break the law. Hopefully the DA and judge are reasonable.

  13. dangerp says:

    A little more information for those interested (since there are so many comments wanting more specifics). This is nearby where I live, and they were talking about it on the radio this morning. The guy used the profit from his first six pack (evidently purchased from the mini-mart across the street), and bought more booze. He continued to do so, until by the end of the weekend he had something like 11 bottles of hard liquor.

    A local called in who had stopped by the place, since he was stoked to see his watering hole open up again. The dude said he “just got the place yesterday”, and was outside pulling weeds and cleaning the windows. He said to “stop on by, I’ve got beer and bloody mary mix in there!”.

    I would have loved to go to that bar.

  14. Cameraman says:

    Fire Turbo Tax Timmy and put this guy in charge of the Treasury Department. I’ll bet the recession will be over in six weeks, tops. Until China comes and arrests us for selling Venuzuala’s oil to the EU without permission, of course.

  15. PencilSharp says:

    Dude sounds like the entrepreneur from hell… But, seriously, who was hurt here?

    The property owner? No, his property value probably would have gone up if this had continued.
    The liquor merchants? Nope. He paid cash for the booze fair and square.
    Your Good Government? No, again. Every drop he bought included applicable liquor taxes, etc.
    The cops? No. That’s one less bum they have to roll.
    The public? Nuh-unh. They got one more bar to patronize.
    What about other bars? Blue noses in the community? DING DING DING!

    So, remember, kids! When you’re in business, the best way to stay that way is require licensing to keep upstarts out…

    • PencilSharp says:

      And a follow-up from dangerp’s article…

      In a brief telephone interview, a relative said Kevie, a state champion in bareback bronc riding in high school, was estranged from his family.

      Yeah, he’s a real entrepreneur, awright…

    • veritybrown says:

      Yet another example.

    • E. Zachary Knight says:

      Well, technically the government was harmed as you have to pay to get a liquor license. So they were out that money.

      But other than that, you are spot on.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Yes, wherever there is licensing there is bullshit. Guy should have known this from his experience with livestock.

    • ganzhimself says:

      But think of the children!

    • Baelzar says:

      He was an UNREGULATED BAR, sir. Unacceptable! Cannot be allowed!

      Why, he didn’t even pay his FEES. The man is a criminal.


    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      The property owner? No, his property value probably would have gone up if this had continued. — yea, nothing increases value other than a buisness with one-employee, no insurance.

      The liquor merchants? He paid cash for the booze fair and square. – Very fair to buy booze labeled “Not for Retail” and to sell it in retail. You can only buy what ppl are selling, if someone is selling you something for consumption, its not fair to use it for production if thats explicity what you agreed not to do.

      Your Good Government? – No sales tax though.

      The cops? No. – But another bar they have to protect/patrol.

      The public? – So all of public likes bars? The noise? The drunks? The traffic?
      What about other bars? Blue noses in the community? – Yea, no hard working barkeep who competed for patronage and won over on the previous owner and is now being undercut by an illicit operator who has skirttailed overhead is harmed. Thier a blue nose!!!

  16. Eyeout says:

    It would have really been a story if he’d turned the original 6-pack into a Porche through savvy up-trading.

    • The_Legend says:

      The kid with the porsche had time. Given enough time, this guy could have worked his way up to a casino!

  17. AlexPDL says:

    To me this is the most important detail… “His ruse was exposed when Placer County Detective Jim Hudson recognized Kevie’s picture in a July 19th article published in the Auburn Journal about the reopening of the Valencia Club.” Wait what?! How long did he hink he could do this for? I would have thought he could get away with it for a night. But why didn’t he bolt after a day? Why didn’t he run after a reporter took his PICTURE and did an ARTICLE? I was hoping he was Robin Hood…but the guy just sounds too damn stupid.

  18. WagTheDog says:

    Yeah, the link to the poorly written article from the newspaper 250 miles away isn’t the best. The Sacramento Bee has a much better written article at

    I just hate it when a non-local newspaper is linked to in a local news-type article….but I am sure that the next time there is news shakin’ in NYC, Consumerist will link to the SF Chronicle article about it rather than the NYT. I mean, why wouldn’t SF reporters know everything about NYC.

  19. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    This would have been a kick ass 80s movie. Imagine him, in the bar, realizing the dream. Musical Montage of him cleaning up… maybe he would even have a robot helping. He hires a down on her luck hooker looking to change her ways and a Vietnam War Vet who can’t hold a job due to PTSD. They eventually enter into a bartending flair contest in order to help the orphanage he grew up in and the ruse becomes exposed just before the contest.

    Must get to work…
    [clack clack clack] [big cigar chomp] [dollar signs]

  20. Narmical says:

    I disagree with the concept of ‘Selling Liquor with out a licence’. Using other people’s stuff is wrong. but by selling with out a licence who did he hurt?

    And don’t say “he could have hurt someone”. Buying beer at a liquor store of repute and selling it is in no way negligent.