A Florida man was arrested this week after he impersonated a Walt Disney World employee to steal several expensive decorative pieces from the property, including an R2D2 statue with an estimated value of up to $10,000, authorities say. David Emerson Proudfoot was taken into custody on Monday and charged with three counts of third-degree grand theft and obstruction by false information.
According to a probable cause affidavit, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on May 31 responded to the Swan and Dolphin Hotel located at 1200 Epcot Resorts Drive after Walt Disney World security called them in reference to a possible grand theft. The man allegedly caught the attention of the hotel’s security team when they noticed him pushing a large cart away from the Swan hotel and appearing “confused.”
Upon arriving at the scene, deputies met with security guards who were holding a white male wearing “a gray t-shirt, beige work pants, and a high visibility orange work vest” as well as a “Walt Disney World issued name tag with ‘David’ inscribed” on it. The man allegedly identified himself as “David E. Rodgers” and provided a birthdate and address. He allegedly said part of his job was “to move items from one location to another.”
Investigators quickly learned that there was no record of a person matching the name, birthdate, and address the man gave. Security on the scene also told deputies that there was no record of a David E. Rodgers working for Walt Disney World.
When asked to produce identification, the suspect allegedly said his wallet was in his employee locker. He then allegedly led deputies on a meandering excursion around the park as he searched for the locker room.
“David proceeded to wander through the back areas of the hotel. [A]t one point we crossed over to the Beach club side of the resort complex. David got lost another time, backtracked and was finally able to locate a case [sic] member locker room,” the affidavit states. “Once inside the locker room he went to a row of lockers in the ‘800’ section. He appeared confused and could not remember for [sic] find a locker where he left his things.”
The suspect then attempted to get into one of the lockers several times with no success. When the deputy said he knew the suspect had a wallet in his pocket, the suspect allegedly produced a Florida driver’s license in the name of David Emerson Proudfoot. He then admitted to “moving items on the property, including R2D2 and a game machine,” per the affidavit.
Deputies transported Emerson back to the Swan hotel where he allegedly said that he actually moved the items to help the park’s security system by exposing its weaknesses.
Proudfoot allegedly told deputies that “he had an application for Walt Disney World Security pending and was moving the items to show weaknesses in the security of the resorts in the hope of securing a better paying job at WDW,” according to the affidavit.
He allegedly claimed to have “no intent” to take the items off of the property. However, a search warrant executed on Proudfoot’s residence allegedly revealed thousands of dollars worth of items that had been stolen from the park in recent months, including multiple light fixtures that had been ripped from a bathroom all and were estimated to be worth $1,000 each, a wooden towel cabinet worth an estimated $4,000, and a gold necklace worth over $700, among other things.
Proudfoot is currently being held at the Orange County Jail on $9,650 bond, jail records show.
Read the arrest affidavits below.
[image via Orange County Sheriff’s Office]
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