Back when I was a radio star (meaning: I had at least two fans), I used to do a feature called Stupid Criminal of the Week. During that time, I would highlight the exploits of someone who didn't think that big effort at crime all the way through. You know, like the bank robber who wrote the holdup note on the back of one of his own deposit slips with his name and address printed right there, or the guy who broke into a home and fell asleep on the couch. People like that. They were the highlight of my week.
This was back in the 1980s, when information wasn't nearly as plentiful as now when the Information Superhighway opened for business. So, these stories were occasional, cute and out-of-the-ordinary. Then, I started finding more and more, and most weeks there was not only a winner, but a runner-up, and sometimes an honorable mention in the contest to take the weekly prize. Soon, the award became the Stupid Criminal of the Day. Today, there is information flying around in digital form at breakneck speed, and it is hard to keep up with some of the lame-brained moves of certain people on the other side of the law. So I thought I'd make you feel a little better about yourself today.
There's the guy around Buffalo, New York who was riding around on the Interstate with the upper half of his body sticking out of the sunroof of the car. (I'm assuming he wasn't driving, although the account really doesn't rule that out.) Anyway, when the state police trooper pulled up behind the car and turned on the flashing lights, the dude in the sunroof found he had another problem. He had a bag of pot that he didn't want to be caught holding, so he decided to ditch the drugs by throwing it over his shoulder as the car was pulling over. The baggie of marijuana flew through the air and landed on the hood of the state police cruiser. He was charged with possession of drugs and not wearing a seatbelt. A more intelligent criminal would have kept his upper torso and head inside the car.
Or how about the three guys (note: it took three persons to be this stupid) who walked into a doughnut shop with knifes and hatchets and wanted the money from the store. It didn't take long for one of the trio of geniuses to notice a paper bag with a lump inside sitting in one of the workers' opened purses. The three grabbed the bag and took off, figuring they had just made off with the day's receipts from the cash drawer which was ready to be taken to the bank. Sometime later, they opened the bag to see how much dough they had stolen only to find that it was really dough. Fried dough. Doughnuts, to be precise. Apparently one of the workers was going to take a few crullers home at the end of the day, but the robbers grabbed the goods instead of the loot. Always check your order before you leave -- that works for robberies and for getting food from a drive-through window.
That reminded me of a case where a guy walked into a doughnut shop (doughnut shops obviously attract all kinds of people) and slipped the clerk a note that said he had a gun and a bomb and would use both if he didn't get the cash. Then the robber reached over the counter and grabbed the cash register and took off running out of the shop... only it wasn't the cash register. Mr. Holdup had grabbed a large adding machine that had no cash drawer. Instead of a drawer full of money, he had an outdated piece of office equipment. Sheer brilliance.
Police officers have always told me that criminals are not the smartest bunch in the world, which is fine by them because that quality makes them easier to catch. And with some of these idiots, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.