Dumb Criminals

Date Received: 9 May 1996


Every day, we are assaulted by stories of stupid people--many of whom use their stupidity for personal gain (e.g., $2.5M to some old broad stupid enough to put hot coffee in her--uh--lap while driving). From time to time, though, we hear of those who strive to achieve new levels of stupidity *while* also breaking the law. To these brave men and women--ooops, "women and men"--we present the highest possible honor: entry into the "Stupid-Criminal Hall of Shame."

The following are their accounts ...


Kentucky (where else?): Two men tried to pull the front off a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home. With the chain still attached to the machine. With their bumper still attached to the chain. With their vehicle's license plate still attached to the bumper. (Editor's Note 1: And they wonder why we call them "Yahoos" ...)

New York: As a female shopper exited a convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police had apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the cruiser and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes Officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."

Seattle: When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

Ann Arbor: The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50am, flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.

South Carolina: A man walked into a local police station, dropped a bag of cocaine on the counter, informed the desk sergeant that it was substandard cut, and asked that the person who sold it to him be arrested immediately.

Indiana: A man walked up to a cashier at a grocery store and demanded all the money in the register. When the cashier handed him the loot, he fled--leaving his wallet on the counter.

Tennessee: A man successfully broke into a bank after hours and stole the bank's video camera. While it was recording. Remotely. (That is, the videotape recorder was located elsewhere in the bank, so he didn't get the videotape of himself stealing the camera.)

Newark: A woman was reporting her car as stolen, and mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report 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.

Arkansas: Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. Seems the liquor store window was made of Plexi-Glass. The whole event was caught on videotape.

England: A German "tourist," supposedly on a golf holiday, shows up at customs with his golf bag. While making idle chatter about golf, the customs official realizes that the tourist does not know what a "handicap" is. The customs official asks the tourist to demonstrate his swing, which he does--backward! A substantial amount of narcotics was found in the golf bag.

Germany: Oil of Olay no longer turning the trick for her, a woman decided that she would bathe in the milk of a camel (a modern-day Cleopatra). So she stole a camel from the local zoo (where *else* can you find a camel when you need one?) and transported it back to her house--where she realized that the camel's name was "Otto." (Editor's Note 2: She might not have gotten much milk from Otto, but she probably made a friend for life while trying to ...)

Arizona: A company called "Guns For Hire" stages gunfights for Western movies, etc. One day, they received a call from a 47-year- old woman, who wanted to have her husband killed. She got 4-1/2 years in jail.

Texas: A man convicted of robbery worked out a deal to pay $9600 in damages rather than serve a prison sentence. For payment, he provided the court a check--a *forged* check. He got 10 years.

(Location Unknown): A man went into a drug store, pulled a gun, announced a robbery, and pulled a Hefty-bag face mask over his head--and realized that he'd forgotten to cut eyeholes in the mask.

(Location Unknown): A man successfully broke into a bank's basement through a street-level window, cutting himself up pretty badly in the process. He then realized that (1) he could not get to the money from where he was, (2) he could not climb back out the window through which he had entered, and (3) he was bleeding pretty badly. So he located a phone and dialed "911" for help ...

Virginia: Two men in a pickup truck went to a new-home site to steal a refrigerator. Banging up walls, floors, etc., they snatched a refrigerator from one of the houses, and loaded it onto the pickup. The truck promptly got stuck in the mud, so these brain surgeons decided that the refrigerator was too heavy. Banging up *more* walls, floors, etc., they put the refrigerator BACK into the house, and returned to the pickup truck, only to realize that they locked the keys in the truck--so they abandoned it.

(Location Unknown): A man walked into a Circle-K (a convenience store similar to a 7-11), put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled-- leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.

Selected by Jim Griffith.


Date Received: Tue, 27 May 1997

It has become commonplace to read in our newspapers of a crime somewhere in America amusingly bungled by the criminal's ineptitude. Droll though these news items may be, they reflect an overlooked cost of our current national crisis in education. The basic learning skills of criminals have deteriorated to a shocking degree.

Consider the following:

A bank robber in Bumpus, Tenn., handed a teller the following note: "Watch out. This is a rubbery. I hav an oozy traned on your but. Dump the in a sack, this one. No die packkets or other triks or I will tare you a new naval. No kwarter with red stuff on them, too." Dr. Creon V.B. Smyk of the Ohio Valley Educational Council says such notes are, lamentably, the rule. "Right across the board, we see poor pre-writing skills, problems with omissions, tense, agreement, spelling and clarity," he moaned.
Smyk believes that the quality of robbery notes could be improved if criminals could be taught to plan before writing. "We have to stress organization: Make an outline of your robbery note before you write it," he said. "Some of the notes get totally sidetracked on issues like the make, model and caliber of the gun, number of bullets, etc., until one loses sight of the main idea -- the robbery."

In Bent Forks, Ill., kidnapers of ice-cube magnate Worth Bohnke sent a photograph of their captive to Bohnke's family. Bohnke was seen holding up a newspaper. It was not that day's edition and, in fact, bore a prominent headline relating to Nixon's trip to China.
This was pointed out to the kidnapers in a subsequent phone call. They responded by sending a new photograph showing an up-to-date newspaper. Bohnke, however, did not appear in the picture. When this, too, was refused, the kidnapers became peevish and insisted that a photograph be sent to them showing all the people over at Bohnke's house holding different issues of _Success_ magazine.
They provided a mailing address and were immediately apprehended. They later admitted to FBI agents they did not understand the principle involved in the photograph/newspaper concept. "We thought it was just some kind of tradition," said one. Educators agree that such mix-ups point to poor reasoning and comprehension skills, ignorance of current events, and failure to complete work in the time allotted.

Burglars in Larch Barrens, Md., tried to cut through a safe using a Lazer Tag gun.

Industrial thieves broke into the Bilgetek plant in Canasta, Wash., by crossing a metal catwalk and then blew it up, having forgotten it was their only means of escape.

Rustlers in Spavin, N.D., made off with three Saint Bernard dogs, a stationary bicycle and the visiting in-laws of a farmer, after having failed to correctly identify the valuable cattle on the premises.

"No problem-solving abilities, no communication skills, no 'plays and relates well with others,' no nothing," FBI regional director J. Paine Bloomey said, reviewing the state of modern criminality. "We are talking plain, flat-out, hard-boiled, stupid as pea turkeys."

By contrast, Japanese criminals score in the range 10 to 15 points higher than their American counterparts in basic skills tests. In the Japanese underworld, it is considered a matter of honor to execute a thoughtful, grammatical, error-free crime.

Still, experts such as Smyk stop short of demanding a total overhaul of the educational system. "For all their acumen," he says, "Japanese criminals wind up sacrificing a lot of the joie de vivre you see in our guys."


Date Received: Sun, 24 Aug 1997

YOU MEAN ME?
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.

DEADHEADS
A man in Orange County Municipal Court had been ticketed for driving alone in the carpool lane. He claimed that the four frozen cadavers in the mortuary van he was driving should be counted. The judged ruled that passengers must be alive to qualify.

THIS WOULD BE ME
The judge called the case of People vs. Steven Lewon Crook. The bailiff opened the door to the holding cell and called, "Crook, come forward." Five of the prisoners entered the courtroom.

LEARN YOUR LESSON
When asked for her occupation, a woman charged with a traffic violation said she was a schoolteacher. The judge rose from the bench. "Madam, I have waited years for a schoolteacher to appear before this court," he smiled with delight. "Now sit down at that table and write 'I will not pass through a red light' five hundred times."

AHH, THAT'S BETTER!
A judge in Louisville decided a jury went "a little bit too far" in recommending a sentence of 5,005 years for a man who was convicted of five robberies and a kidnapping. The judge reduced the sentence to 1,001 years.

OOPS! I BLEW THAT ONE!
A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defense: "My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offense committed by his limb." "Well put," the judge replied. "Using your logic, I sentence the defendant's arm to one year's imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses." The defendant smiled. With his lawyer's assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.


Date Received: Fri, 17 Apr 1998

The police showed up at the victim's house after receiving a call of a break in while the man was away at work. The house was in a nice upper-middle class neighbourhood. The police walked around to the side of the house with the victim, where they were shown the pried open sliding glass patio door. Clearly the entrance for the criminal. When asked if anything in the house was missing the man said nothing except his stash of marijuana. Police, not believing what they had just heard asked the man to repeat himself. The man, realising that he had just admitted to possessing an illegal drug stammered and finally said, "oh forget the whole thing." He waved the police off and went back into his house. The police walked away laughing.

The two suspects had been apprehended and now sat in a courtroom at the defendant's table. A witness was on the stand being asked questions by the prosecutor. "And ma'am you say you were robbed of your purse on the street?" Yes sir, the witness answered. "And the two men who robbed you, are they here in the courtroom today?" Before the witness could answer both defendants raised their hands. The judge and jury laughed openly.

A man was arrested for stealing a car. When he was taken to court for his arraignment the judge asked, how do you plead? Instead of saying guilty or not guilty the man said: "Before we go any further, judge, let me explain why I stole the car." The judge ruled in record time.

Some criminals are not too bright and here's one to prove that: (at the time of booking)
Officer: What is your D.O.B.?
Criminal: What's a D.O.B., man?
Officer: When's your birthday?
Criminal: May 5th
Officer: What year?
Criminal: Every year, man.

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