Two guys who should have stayed in bed

U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management
n a clear case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, being down on your luck, or just plain having bad karma, last January, Buford Morris, 44, and Steven Irvin, 27, decided to loot a prehistoric Cahuilla Indian village site in Coachella, California, at about the same time that fifty law enforcement personnel and archaeologists were scheduled to visit the site as part of an Archaeological Resources Protection Act training class.
The scene was somewhat comic in its proportions. The puzzlement of the looters at the sudden arrival of fifty people (whose law enforcement status was disguised by street clothes) was matched only by the suspicion of the class members, who were convinced that the instructors had deviously staged the event as part of the training. Bureau of Land Management Archaeologist Mike Mitchell, who was leading the tour, approached the first man and casually asked, "What are you doing?" Not fully realizing the predicament he was in, the man smiled and held up a plastic bag full of pot shards and replied, "Oh, I'm just looking around for old Indian stuff. What are you guys doing taking a tour?" "You might say that," Mike replied.
A few more comic and chaotic moments passed, during which time the instructors finally convinced the class - aided by the discovery of a loaded 40 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol - that the event was not staged. A subsequent search of the suspects' vehicle turned up lots of pot shards, customized probing tools, an artifact price guide, and a map of Joshua Tree National Park marked with the location of several archaeological sites.
Morris and Irvin were taken into custody by BLM Rangers and charged with violating state antiquities and firearms laws. Both pleaded guilty in Riverside County Court and were fined $660 each, sentenced to three years probation, and forfeiture of their firearm. The artifacts will be repatriated to the Torres-Martinez Band of Cahuilla Indians.
Morris and Irvin were never told that they were nabbed in a fluky encounter with a training class. Hopefully, the story they are telling their friends and other looters is that law enforcement is taking looting seriously, and if they risk looting in the California Desert, huge SWAT teams will be mobilized to deal with them .