Cumberland Times-News

Columns

June 16, 2014

Crooks

They often make it easy for police to catch them

— Do you ever wonder, “What were these people thinking?” We do.

It’s not unusual for our daily Police Log to report on an arrest made by an officer who stopped a car on Interstate 68 or some other highway for going considerably faster than the speed limit, then discovered the car was laden with narcotics.

We recently reported about a man who faces charges because he allegedly stole a lawn tractor from a store, then sold it at a scrap yard to someone who promptly called police.

This sort of thing isn’t new. Some years ago, a man was convicted of stealing a quantity of copper wire from a scrap yard. The next day, he tried to sell it back to the same scrap yard with the scrap yard’s wrapper still around it.

Two other men recently were charged with felony theft and drug offenses for allegedly stealing a car in Harrisburg, Pa., and driving it to Cumberland. Police trailed them here using the car’s OnStar satellite program.

Some years ago, we reported about a man who robbed a store unmasked, with a pistol that was broken. He and the clerk were acquainted, and he asked her not to tell anyone he had been there. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Another man called a pizza shop and ordered a sandwich delivered to what proved to be a vacant address. When the delivery man showed up, he robbed him and was still there, eating the sandwich, when the police arrived.

Stories about dumb crooks abound, like that of a man who tried to rob a gun store in Portland, Ore., while armed only with a baseball bat.

Occasionally, there are reports of people who actually try to burglarize homes by climbing down chimneys; unlike Santa, they get stuck partway down.

Now and then, someone hands a bank clerk a robbery note written on a business card or some other piece of paper that has his name on it.

One of our favorite stories also was a favorite of the late attorney Lee Barnett, who liked to tell about a man who robbed a bank in the pre-mall days on Baltimore Street.

He walked outside, hailed a cab and rode home in it. The driver radioed the dispatcher about his fare, and the police were waiting for them when they got to their destination.

A day or so later, the robber was lying on his bunk in the county jail when a guard reminded him it was chow time and asked him if he was hungry.

“No,” the robber said, “I’m plannin’ my next job.”

Police have a variety of investigative tools, scientific and otherwise, to use in catching crooks. They also get plenty of help from the public and, it often seems, from the crooks themselves.

 

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