A Utah man could be looking at time behind bars after he allegedly released mice and other rodents in various hotel rooms, then alerted staff, hoping they could compensate him with a free stay.
As the New York Post reported, 37-year-old Ryan State is accused of taking the rodents to three different hotels in Utah and secretly releasing them in his rooms. At the third location, the Hyatt House in Salt Lake City, the hotel's general manager decided to call police after State tried to claim that his room was infested. After the first two hotels reportedly fell for the ploy and compensated him with free stays, police caught on and arrested State.
As the report noted, the man is accused of damaging several hotel rooms after the rodents left behind feces. As KUTV noted, the scam could have been costly to the hotels, as they are required to bring in pest control whenever rodents and feces are found in rooms. State's gambit could have also netted him a few hundred dollars, had it worked. The website for the Hyatt House lists rooms from $109 to $149 per night.
It was not clear what other hotels he allegedly targeted or how much money State could have made, in what police referred to as services stolen by fraud.
The strange circumstances of the alleged scam and the fact that it worked at least twice helped attract some national attention. Some major media outlets picked up the story of State's arrest, even though the charges only amounted to misdemeanors.
This is not the first animal-related scam to gain viral attention. Back in 2015, police in Texas said a couple who lost their dog later found that someone was advertising its sale on Craigslist. Police said the people listing the 11-year-old terrier were taking part in a "dog flipping" scheme, in which they tried to profit from re-selling the dog. The animal's owners contacted the seller, who then took down the ad. The rightful owner was eventually able to track down the sellers, who forced them to pay in order to get their beloved pet back -- only to find that its coat had been painted in an effort to hide the fact that it was stolen.
In this most recent case, State has been charged with two counts of theft by deception and three counts of criminal mischief. It's not clear if a conviction would result in jail time.