Saturday, September 24, 2022


The masked bandit that robbed our campsite and got away!

By Barry Zander

Please listen to the 23-second introduction:


The place: Shepard State Park
The town: Gautier, Mississippi
The accused: Rosemary
Charged with: Herbal Robbery

Peacefully nestled in woody Shepard State Park, we set up our travel trailer for a three-day stay, from which we could explore the environs along the western edge of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. After weeks of seeing relatives and ol’ friends, we were ready to retreat into a serene spot.

Shepard was the ideal place: a beautiful setting under warm September skies … but it wasn’t long before we realized that evil lurked around us.

Shortly after getting set up, we ventured off to see the sights, including homes that had sprung up since my last visit about 40 years earlier in rolling hills close to the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped off to explore some seaside gift shops and to savor some of the best seafood in America, including a shrimp po-boy.

For those of you not familiar with Gulf Coast cuisine, a po-boy is akin to a submarine sandwich, a grinder or a hoagie. Today, it is another highlight of New Orleans’ famous gastronomy extending along the Gulf Coast.

Upon our return to the park, we realized something was missing – Monique’s potted rosemary plant had disappeared. Since there was only one other camper in the park, it seemed unlikely that he was the culprit. It was then that I discovered raccoon tracks near the creek below our campsite. We spent the next half-hour searching for any additional evidence of the theft, hoping in vain to find the plant, but eventually finding the terracotta pot in the woods.

Later that afternoon, we were on our way out of the park on our way to town when we stopped by the rangers’ station to report the theft. They weren’t surprised, apparently having heard other such reports.

Three days later we packed up, ready to continue our journey toward Florida. As we passed the exit, one of the rangers charged out of the office waving a sheet of paper at us. It was a poster:



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Carol Forrest
2 years ago

I always bake brownies for our camping trips (tent at the time). We were at Bodega Dunes Campground, Sonoma Coast State Park. I did not realize there were raccoons at the beach 20 years ago. Woke up one morning and the brownies were gone. They were in a red and white Tupperware Container. We started looking. Husband found the container in a bush and the brownies were still in it. The raccoons could not get the Tupperware lid off. It was scratched and beaten up a bit, but I still use it today for brownies.

Leslie Berg
2 years ago

In the late 80s we were tent camping the last weekend of salmon season. We were the only campers, and had a very beautiful site next to a lake in No. CA. We went into the restroom before bed for teeth brushing, and ablutions. Although gone only briefly, when we returned to our campsite every single one of the foil wrapped Rollo caramels in the pocket of my jacket left hanging on the back of the aluminum folding chair had been opened and eaten. The little masked bandits did not even pick up the wrappers!

Deborah Mason
2 years ago

I remember many cases in the California state park I used to work in where a lot of people put their ice chest under the picnic table bench, thinking their food was safe, since the lid wouldn’t open more than an inch it two. (This was before the bears moved in.) In the morning everything that could be pulled through that narrow opening was gone. Didn’t matter how much we told them to use the cupboards or car trunk. These raccoons had also learned they’d get handouts more often if they stood up on their hind legs and used their “hands” in a pulling/gimme gesture. It worked especially well around the campfires.

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