London Riots: Wealthy Teen, Organic Chef Among Accused Looters

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Dylan Martinez / Reuters

A looter jumps out from a smashed-up department store in Peckham, south London August 8, 2011

Think England’s rioters were just a bunch of thugs? Think again. According to The Sun, a millionaire’s daughter, a ballerina and an organic chief were allegedly in on the action.

There are certainly exceptions to those grand theories about the London riots and socioeconomic discontent. What could explain the behavior of minted suburban teen Laura Johnson, who allegedly drove away from the London riots with $8,880 worth of cigarettes, booze and electrical goods in her car? When not out carousing in south London, the 19-year-old lives in her parents’ £1 million farmhouse in the countryside (complete with tennis courts).

(PHOTOS: The Great London Riots)

She is one of dozens to appear in U.K. courts Wednesday on looting charges. Among the other oddities to sit in the dock: an 11-year-old boy charged with snatching a $80 trash can from a department store (why?), and an organic chef accused of smashing up a branch of Nando’s, a chicken restaurant chain.

Jason Matthews, whom police tackled inside an East Dulwich Tesco market, told the court he was just trying to buy diapers for his baby. David Benjamin, 25, claimed he swiped ski goggles from a store to shield his eyes from flying glass.

The British press has also reveled in the story of Alex Baily, a 31-year-old teaching assistant who works at a London school with poor and troubled students. Bailey admitted to burglary after being caught looting an electrical store.

The conclusion? In London’s riots, greed is an equal-opportunity vice.

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