When the Pattons of Lake View, New York finally identified the culprit, they realized they knew the serial litterer.
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Coffee cups sit in dispensers at a McDonald's restaurant
Credit: Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg via Getty Images

For three years, an elderly couple in Lake View, New York, dealt with a bizarre problem: Someone would drive by their house nearly every night and throw a McDonald's coffee cup on their front lawn. Now, a year after the culprit was caught, the couple finally got the closure they were looking for: a reimbursement of the funds they spent trying to identify him and an apology.

The story of the "great cup caper" grabbed national attention back in April of last year when The Buffalo News reported on Edward and Cheryl Patton's bizarre plight. Back in 2018, the first incident appeared: a McDonald's cup flung in the darkness of night from a passing car onto their lawn. From there, the littering escalated to nearly every day, usually with one or two McDonald's coffee cups and occasionally soggy cigarette butts. The Pattons collected the cups as evidence — ten trash bags with over 300 cups in total — but despite investing in security equipment, they were never able to identify the license plate of the car.

Finally, after appealing to neighbors and the police for help, they caught the litterer in April 2021, and it turned out he had a motive: Larry Pope had worked with Cheryl Patton at Fisher Bus Service, with Patton describing Pope as a "nemesis" since they often butted heads over union issues.

Pope — who was charged with harassment and cited for a traffic infraction for throwing refuse onto a roadway — received probation and community service, and, according to an update from The Buffalo News, late last week, he fulfilled the final conditions of his court case: He gave the Pattons restitution of $2,776.47 to cover the money they spent trying to identify his car as well as a written apology.

Edward Patton told the paper that Pope's apology was just four lines long, and stated, "I would like to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Patton for my compulsive behavior of littering. I meant no harm," as well as, "I'm very remorseful for any problems that I may have caused you or your family. I have learned a valuable lesson for my poor judgment." 

"I think he's learned his lesson," Patton added.

As for all the cups, Edward told Buffalo News that he still has them, but now that the case is officially closed, he plans on throwing them all away. Or he just might sell them on eBay. "Official crime scene evidence from the great cup caper, you know?" he quipped.