Years ago, I had a neighbor named Steve, who opined that although the police and the judicial system did a fine job, the public was most protected by the idiocy of criminals. As a Public Defender, Steve was in a position to know, given the relative intelligence of his clients. “Criminal masterminds, they’re not,” he told me.
Pick up any newspaper and you’ll see what Steve meant. To wit:
- A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, “Nobody move!” When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him.
- A woman was reporting her car as stolen, and mentioned that there was a car phone in it. A cop called the phone and told the guy that answered that he had read the ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested.
- A Maryland man was trying to steal video games and accessories in a Wal-Mart. Unfortunately for him, there was a “Shop With A Cop” charity event being held in the store by 50 police officers.
- An Illinois man used his Department of Corrections ID card to jimmy the lock of an apartment, then left it at the scene of the crime.
- An Indiana bank robber handing a teller a note demanding money which was written on one of his own checks.
- Thieves stole 14 cell phones from a public works garage and planned to sell them for a profit. Their plans went awry when the phones turned out to be global positioning system devices which led police straight to their door.
- A man called a store to find out how much cash it had in its register. Aroused by why someone should want to know how much money was on the premises, the shop owner called the local cops who promptly arrested the man as he made his way to the store.
- A bank robber tried to enter the bank a minute after it had closed. Employees inside spotted him wearing a ski mask and gloves and carrying a gun. They got a license plate number that led police to him.
- A Wisconsin was attempting a drive-by shooting at the home of his ex-girlfriend’s family. Only he forgot to wind down the window of his car first.
- Two Rhode Island teenagers broke in to a store and made off with computer equipment. They were caught because one of them left his homework at the scene of the crime.
- A man tried to hold up a shop while wearing a motorcycle helmet as a disguise. The only problem was that his name was printed in large letters across the front of his helmet.
- A pair of teenage criminals from California were caught red-handed while trying to break into a parked car. While being pursued by police they decided to climb over a fence to escape, only the fence they scaled was that of the San Quentin prison.
Steve was proud of the fact that he had once won the “Stupidest Client Of The Year” award in his office. His client decided to burn down his building for the insurance, and hired someone dumber than himself to do the deed. The would-be arsonist arrived in the basement of the building with two open pails of gasoline, one of which he set down next to the furnace while he spread the contents of the other pail around the floor. The fumes hit the pilot light and promptly erupted. The Fire Department report stated that as the first engine company arrived, the man ran up to them and said, “I did it…just put me out!”
But that isn’t why Steve won the award. This is:
The next day, the building owner called his insurance agent to tell him of the fire. To which the agent replied, “That’s a shame, since you cancelled your policy six months ago.”
Today’s Fact Cetera
At the end of the Civil War, 33% of the circulating U.S. paper currency was counterfeit.