The man accused of robbing cookie-selling Girl Scouts of their profits told NBC Bay Area in an exclusive jailhouse interview Monday that he ripped off the 10-year-old girls to feed his heroin habit.
"I definitely feel bad about it," Cody Phillip Gintz, 23, said from behind bars at a San Jose jail. "I would definitely tell them I'm sorry." He said he's got a little sister who was once a Girl Scout.
Gintz expressed a great deal of remorse during the interview, after his Sunday arrest on two counts of robbery charges after police say he yanked a lunchbox with hundreds of dollars of Girl Scout money from Troop 601-60. At the time, the girls were selling Thin Mints and Samoas in front of the Safeway on Branham Lane in San Jose. The Girl Scout troop leader initially said she believed there was $600 in the box, though police said that when all the money was returned to the girls, there was only $300 in there.
Speaking shakily from behind a glass window, Gintz , a Leigh High School graduate who works in construction, said his withdrawal from heroin was "pretty intense" Sunday afternoon. His addiction took over him, he said, including his "rational thought process." He said needed a fix and he had no money to pay for it. He's been using, Gintz said, for about three to four years.
"Normally, I would never try this," he said. "But I was desperate, so I tried."
Gintz told NBC Bay Area that he knew "right away" what he did was wrong when he heard 10-year-old Sohpia Contos yelling at him. He said his parents and girlfriend are not happy with him, but he said they do support him.
Sophia was completely taken aback and quite emotional when she spoke to NBC Bay Area on Sunday.
“I didn’t know a guy would do that,” she said, before hearing about Gintz's rationale “I didn’t know people would do such a thing.”
Gintz is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday and he told NBC Bay Area that he'd likely enter a guilty plea. He's being held on $50,000 bail. On Monday morning, Gintz was not being represented by an attorney.
San Jose police were eventually able to recover the box – a camouflage lunch box with a silver star in the middle used to hold their sales money that Gintz allegedly threw in a creek.
The Girl Scouts were visibly upset after the robbery. But the girls made even more money after the robbery.
Police officers bought the troops' $240 worth of remaining cookies, and threw in an extra $60. The girls had planned to use the money for a water conservation project, as NBC Bay Area first reported in a story that's getting national attention.
Gintz had inititally ran off but returned to the grocery store parking lot ten minutes later, police said. Gintz was caught after Sophia’s mother, Michelle Contos, spotted him getting into his car.
“I just kept reading the license plate over and over again,” Contos said on Sunday.
Her excellent Girl Scout mothering skills helped police quickly track him down. Police said they found $300 on him, and a K-9 officer helped find the box of cash in a nearby creek.
As for Gintz, he said this was a wakeup call to get help for his drug addiction. "It think it's going to be difficult," he said. "I'm definitely going to try."
NBC Bay Area's Vince Cestone, Ingrid Almaz and Shawn Murphy contributed to this report.