A suspect dressed as the beloved Sesame Street cookie monster, known for his hunger for sweets, has been terrorizing Santa Cruz, California locals along the coastal city's boardwalk by harassing them to pay him for snapshots with them or their children as well as shouting obscenities and taunts and onlookers.
The New York Post reports that Joyce Blaschke, a police spokesperson, said on Wednesday, "We are getting calls from people who say he is 'creepy.' Based on his history, we advise the public to not engage with this individual. Steer clear from him."
"I would not take a photo with him," Blaschke added.
According to Santa Cruz police, the suspect underneath the Cookie Monster's costume is 59-year-old Adam Sandler, no relation to the former SNL star, but as recently as Tuesday has not committed any official crime.
According to Lookout Santa Cruz, "he is not employed, contracted or permitted by the City of Santa Cruz, nor by any of the local businesses."
In 2013, the New York Post reported on a man dressed up as Elmo from Sesame Street who was shouting anti-Semitic slurs in New York's Times Square and harassing tourists. The outlet reported that the "Evil Elmo" was reportedly a Dan Sandler, who also went by the name Adam.
"Blaschke declined to confirm if (Cookie Monster) Sandler is the so-called Evil Elmo," reports the Post.
Sandler has a criminal record. He spent one year in jail for an extortion plot involving the Girl Scouts. He started spreading a rumor they were running a Cambodian "Rape Camp," which was all fabricated. He said in Manhattan Criminal Court, "I accept the fact I committed a crime, but I’m not in any way sorry to the Girl Scouts organization."
He reportedly "grabbed a kid while panhandling in his furry Elmo costume," according to the Post, and was arrested in San Francisco for the crime.
According to CBS, NYPD addressed the growing trend of costumed characters soliciting photos for tips in Times Square in 2014 and said "PHOTOS WITH COSTUMED CHARACTERS ARE FREE. TIPPING IS OPTIONAL."
In 2019, a different man dressed as Elmo was arrested and charged for groping a 14-year-old girl, according to the New York Post.
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