Stupid criminals of 2009

Eric Van Allen

     The national economic recession over the past few years has hit many Americans in a place where it hurts: their wallets. Homeless and unemployment rates are on the rise and may continue to rise into the coming years. And as the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Some men and women decided that if they couldn’t acquire money the honorable way, they may as well acquire it dishonestly.

      Crime rates have been steadily dropping over the past few years, but 2009 saw no shortage of a few criminals who took it to the extreme. While crime is no easy task, many criminals found hilarious ways to blunder through their criminal activities. They learned the law the hard way: proving once again that crime doesn’t pay. Their are a million reasons not to follow their example but here are the top seven from 2009.

     Reason #1: 911 doesn’t like to make gas calls.

     In Tacoma, Washington December 28, a 19-year-old man called 911 to report that his car had run out of gas while he was driving on Route 167. However, at 12:30 that day, a call had been made to the police that a stolen truck had been seen driving down Route 167. Yes, you guessed it: it was the same truck. And the best part? The truck wasn’t out of gas; the truck thief had filled it with diesel instead of unleaded at the gas station.

     Reason #2: You can’t play Halo after you steal it.

     Another post-Christmas robbery, a man in New York had stolen a child’s Xbox 360. While the child was later at a friend’s house, they saw his Gamertag log in to Xbox Live. They notified the police and they traced the IP address back to the thief’s apartment, where they found dozens of electronic devices he had pilfered.

     Reason #3: You can’t compete with Boy Scouts in door-to-door sales.

     A local “entrepreneur” decided that dark alleys were not his thing, and decided to go door-to-door with his narcotics sales. This 19-year-old was selling marijuana door to door in Austin and ended up knocking on the door of an off-duty law enforcement officer. The officer told him he’d be right back, and came back to the door with a badge and handcuffs. To make matters worse, the boy was selling in a location near the UT campus, a drug-and-weapon-free area, making his charges much more serious than they already were.

     Reason #4: Girls don’t like being robbed.

     In Columbus, Ohio September 6, a woman was robbed by three men while in her home. She knew none of the men, and never would have expected any of them to come back. However, it seems that she had a lasting effect on these robbers, as one of them returned two hours later to ask her if she would be available for a date. She quickly notified the police and he was arrested for aggravated robbery and faces $100,000 bail. His offer for dinner and a movie was also turned down.

     Reason #5: The police can track the soda you bought five minutes ago.

     Some robbers prefer the informality of a demand note, so that their voice isn’t caught on any nearby security cameras or microphones. While it is an usually effective tactic, it loses some of it’s effectiveness when the demand note is actually just a receipt from your last trip to the grocery store. A 40 year old man of Walton County, Florida made just this mistake when he used his receipt from a CVS to write his robbery demands on. While he initially made off with the cash, the cameras caught his receipt information and he was quickly arrested.

     Reason #6: Some disguises are breathtaking- literally.

     While ski masks are a classic disguise, robbers on a budget have turned to a multitude of other concealment methods not limited to socks, or  Presidential face masks. However, one robber decided to take the budget dig even farther, and used a can of gold spray paint as his mask when he and a friend robbed a Sprint store. During the robbery, the golden man started choking and convulsing. Sadly, he never read the label that said “do not put in mouth or eyes”. Even in the world of crime, safety comes first.

     Reason #7: You can’t apply yourself 110-percent.

     Teachers have always taught students to go above and beyond the norm. Many times, exceeding expectations is the ideal method of getting things done. But this theory doesn’t always work in every situation. Two robbers this year tried to steal money from an ATM. The idea was reasonable: no bank tellers, less probability of being caught, and the money is already in the machine and not a vault. They decided that hacking was too complex and a hammer too subtle, so instead they used a classic robbery method of dynamite. But they soon found that too much can be a bad thing, especially when dealing with explosives. Instead of blowing open an ATM, they brought down the house- literally. At least they succeeded in opening the ATM.

     These seven courageous criminals and their mishaps show that both our justice departments are still doing their job well, and that natural selection never rests. And looking ahead to the coming year, there will likely be countless more criminals who are their own undoing. Will it be a robber who texts with a stolen phone? Or another spray paint face mask? As long as the world keeps turning, there will always be those people to teach the rest of us that crime never pays.