Some criminals are easy to catch

BBC News is reporting the story of a Belgian e-cigarette shop owner who found himself in a frightening situation and yet was able to think clearly in he midst of pressure. Here is what happened:

A gang of robbers walked into his shop. There were six people in the group that intended to pull off a daylight robbery in the suburban shop. The clerk told them that there was almost no cash in the shop at the moment, but if they returned at the end of the business day, he would have 2 or 3,000 euros.

The group bought his bluff and left the shop. The clerk called the police. The police informed him that they probably wouldn’t come back. But they did come back at 5:30 in the afternoon, an hour before the shop’s closing time. The clerk recognized one of the robbers and told him it still was not the end of the business day and that they needed to return at 6:30 when the shop was closing. They did and this time the police were waiting for them. Five men were arrested including a juvenile.

It almost sounds like a joke. The robbers have been labeled the worst robbers in Belgium.

I enjoy reading stories about criminals who make mistakes and intended victims who escape unscathed. I know that the motivations for crime are multiple and that desperation sometimes causes people to do the wrong thing, but I always find myself cheering for the intended victims in these stories.

In another story, a shop where a previous armed robbery had taken place was entered by three thieves, armed with a knife and two handguns. The shop assistant grabbed a box of chili powder and threw it into the faces of the would-be robbers and they fled the scene.

I’ve heard of using baseball bats and handguns and pepper spray as defensive weapons, but I don’t think I would have thought of chili powder. Who knew I had such powerful weapons in my own spice cabinet.

I don’t plan on carrying chili powder in place of bear spray in grizzly country, however.

There is the story of the young man attempting to shoplift a bottle of wine. When confronted by a security guard he dropped the wine and also dropped his wallet which contained his ID. He was arrested within a half hour of the attempted crime.

A man went into a target store complaining of a printer that he had bought. He was dissatisfied with the quality of its output. The store agreed to accept the return of the printer and give the customer a refund. However, when the printer was returned, the customer had left some of his work in the printer - counterfeited money. He was soon arrested, charged and convicted.

Three British robbers attempted to steal an ATM machine. They wrapped a chain around the machine and attached the chain to the bumper of their car. The machine stayed put, but the bumper was pulled off of the car. The robbers fled the scene leaving behind their bumper and the license plate of the car. They were soon arrested, and easily identified by the security cameras that captured their attempted robbery.

I also read he story of a burglar who broke into a garage to see what he could steel. He found a refrigerator with beer inside and popsicles in the freezer. He decided to enjoy a treat. However, he removed his false teeth to enjoy the popsicles and ended up leaving them behind. I don’t know exactly how the police found the perpetrator, but I can imagine them looking suspiciously at anyone who had no teeth until they got their match. The burglar did 16 months in the county jail for his crime.
In Minneapolis they still tell the story of the man who got into an argument at a bus stop. The argument became intense and the man threw several punches, injuring others who were at the bus stop. As he fled the scene, he dropped a folder. When the police came to investigate they examined the folder which contained the assailant’s homework from an anger management class. He was identified, arrested and convicted. One wonders if he ever completed the course.

A robber had the clerk of a convenience store put cash into a bag and then fled the store. However, he forgot the bag with the money on the counter. When he turned around to claim the loot, an auto lock system made reentry into the store impossible. The robber was staring into the store and pounding on the glass door when police arrived and arrested him.

Police were summoned in Hickory, North Carolina to a restaurant where a thief had made off with their cash register. As the thief fled, the roll of receipt paper had fallen from the machine. The police followed the paper trail 50 yards to the man’s apartment where he was arrested.

Then there is the thief who took his son with him when he robbed a pet store. He left, however, without his son, who told police when they arrived the name of his father who was arrested.

A Scottish shoplifter, after stealing a bottle of vodka, noticed the attractive clerk and paused to flirt with her. She managed to get him to leave his name and phone number before he left with the stolen vodka. You can imagine how easy it was for the investigating officers to find and arrest the thief.

A careful burglar robbed a home and left no fingerprints. However, he paused to take a gulp from an orange juice container and left it in the sink. An alert crime investigator noticed the bottle, took a DNA sample which matched DNA in the database and led to the arrest of the burglar.

A man in California specialized in stealing bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories. His home was filled with stolen items. He would steal the items and then sell them on the internet. One day he managed to unknowingly sell a bicycle to the person he had stolen it from, who promptly called the police and gave them the information they needed to lock him up.

There are hundreds and hundreds of similar stories. It seems that some criminals aren’t all that careful and the impulsiveness that results in crime often results in leaving behind significant evidence. If these kinds of crime were all that were involved, I might enjoy being an investigator. Sadly, however, there are many crimes in which victims are injured and killed. We all know that crime doesn’t pay. Sometimes, however, it does provide a bit of entertainment.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!