Dumb criminals are always entertaining

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By Angye Morrison

I, like most everyone else, get a kick out of reading about stupid or inept criminals. You know, the kind that rob a bank, then realize they locked the keys to the getaway vehicle in the vehicle...so they’re stuck.

I decided to google and see what I could find, for your enjoyment and mine. But in addition to finding some stories about dumb criminals, I also found some rules of thumb that any dumb criminals who may be reading this may want to consider. The rules, and the stories, are courtesy of The Freeman Institute. Enjoy.

Rules for bank robbers

According to the FBI, most modern-day bank robberies are "unsophisticated and unprofessional crimes," committed by young male repeat offenders who apparently don't know the first thing about their business. For instance it is reported that in spite of the widespread use of surveillance cameras, 76 percent of bank robbers use no disguise, 86 percent never study the bank before robbing it, and 95 percent make no long-range plans for concealing the loot.

Thus, this advice is offered to would-be bank robbers, along with examples of what can happen if the rules aren't followed:

1. Pick the right bank. You don't follow the lead of the fellow in Anaheim, Calif. who tried to hold up a bank that was no longer in business and had no money. On the other hand, you don't want to be too familiar with the bank. Another California robber ran into his mother while making his getaway. She turned him in.

2. Don't sign your demand note. Enough said.

3. Avoid being fussy. Take whatever bills are offered.

4. Don't advertise. A holdup man thought that if he smeared mercury ointment on his face, it would make him invisible to the cameras. Actually, it accentuated his features, giving authorities a much clearer picture.

5. Take right turns only. Avoid the sad fate of the thieves in Florida who took a wrong turn and ended up on the Homestead Air Force Base.

6. Provide your own transportation. It is not clever to borrow the teller's car.

7. Consider another line of work. There was the case of the hopeful criminal in Swansea, Mass. who, when the teller told him she had no money, fainted. He was still unconscious when the police arrived.

Here are some accounts of criminals who not only didn’t follow the law, the didn’t follow the rules for bank robbers.

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

• A man successfully broke into a bank after hours and stole the bank's video camera while it was recording. Remotely. The videotape recorder was located elsewhere in the bank, so he didn't get the videotape of himself stealing the camera.

• 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: he could not get to the money from where he was, he could not climb back out the window through which he had entered and he was bleeding pretty badly. So he located a phone and dialed "911" for help.

• Not long ago a man from Grand Forks, N.D. traveled to Fargo to rob Community First Bank. He scribbled his ransom note and gave it to the teller. The teller quickly gave him the money and watched him run out the door. Attempts to search the surrounding area were unsuccessful. Upon review of the ransom note it was revealed that the man wrote the ransom note on his personal bank deposit note. Police traveled to the man’s home to arrest him.

• Two men in Kentucky 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, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home, leaving the bumper – and license plate – behind. The police were able to arrest them after a simple license plate search revealed the owner of the pickup.

I hope you enjoyed these reports as much as I did. And remember: if you ever have to leave the scene, take your bumper with you.