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Stupid criminals are a police officer's bread and butter Tom Basinski | Sat, Mar 05 2011 12:00 PM


1) Have a logical plan

2) Don't be conspicuous.

I have always said that cops owe their livelihood to crooks who are stupid and/or unlucky. The smart and lucky ones are kicking our butts.

A while back, two robbers accosted a woman at a local credit union making a 10:30 p.m. deposit. (Memo to merchants: If you must deposit at night, 1) take another worker, 2) a large dog, or 3) a functioning firearm, not necessarily in that order.)

The would-be robbers staked out the parking lot and waited for their prey. Here's where the stupid part comes in: After carefully lying in wait and getting their courage up, they pointed a shotgun at the woman and took her property.

The only problem is that they robbed her after she made the deposit. You see, if you're going to rob someone at a drop, make sure it's before they put the bag in the deposit slot.

Otherwise, you'll only get a woman's purse. Sometimes that could be a bonanza. Most of the time a woman's purse contains makeup, receipts from two weeks ago, some keys, a granola bar, a coupon or two, makeup, receipts from one week ago, a small flashlight, sunglasses, a shoe to be taken to the repair shop and more makeup.

A purse robbery isn't usually worth it unless you just saw her stuff a bunch of cash into it.

After the robbery the duo made their getaway. The second problem is that they were conspicuous in appearance. One was 5-7 and 250 pounds and the other was 5-9 and 185 pounds. The cops were looking for two robbers shaped like fire hydrants.

They drove a red pickup truck. Hey guys, try not to stand out. Get yourselves an earth-toned sedan, preferably one that doesn't have a loud muffler, missing headlight, or broken windshield.

One of the best patrol arrests I ever made happened in the mid-70s. A guy shoplifted from the old Handyman Store in the 1300 block of Third Avenue (Handyman is long gone now).

When confronted by security, the crook got into a fight and ran over the security agent, breaking his leg. The price of crime just went up, turning the simple shoplift into a felony robbery.

The crook was driving a white four-door car with a black right front fender. I was in the area of the 200 block of Broadway, a few miles away.

As my good luck, and the crook's bad luck, would have it, a white car with a black right front fender went past me. Using my keen powers of observation, I radioed that I "might" have the car used in the robbery. I pulled the guy over, hooked him up, found the stolen property and closed the case. I even received a commendation, which I thought was hilarious. It was dumb luck and an obvious-looking car.

As for our robbers of the lady at the credit union, they were arrested less than a mile away. There isn't a lot of traffic at that time of night and a red pickup stood out.

The shotgun and the lady's property were recovered inside the suspect's vehicle.

Another dumb crook applied to be a Chula Vista cop. He phoned in before his interview to ask if his outstanding warrant might prohibit him from getting the job. He was told to come in and discuss it. When he arrived, the cops had just the right size handcuffs waiting for him. Contrary to what some cop haters might think, he didn't get hired.

Bless the dumb crooks of the world.

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