Watching the movies or TV, you might get the impression that all crooks are super crafty and exceptionally intelligent. The fact is that there are very few Einsteins in the criminal world. This is a fact that most of us old lawmen appreciated and took a good deal of entertainment from.
Some years ago, at the annual Texas Sheriff’s Conference, some of my East Texas colleagues were laughing about an armed robber that they had recently encountered. It seems that while this miscreant was pulling a convenience store robbery a couple of police units happened to pull into the parking lot. And, as we say in police circles, the chase was on!
They ran him through residential areas. They chased him down country roads. And they were still right behind him when he took to the woods. By this time, our armed robber was a little tired of running and was really tired of still being chased. You can imagine his relief when he came out of the woods into some sort of clearing and found a building to hide in. The only glitch in the whole scenario was that the building he chose to hide in? Was the guard barracks at the state prison farm.
And then there’s the guy in one of the southern states who, along with a couple of buddies, decided how cool it would be to approach people, fake an armed robbery, and capture it all on video. Indeed! I mean, you could get good close-up shots of the startled, and horrified, looks on the people’s faces. What a laugh it would be! And, after all, it wasn’t a real armed robbery and no one was going to get hurt and no one was really going to get robbed. What could possibly go wrong?
So they set up their video “prank,” using butcher knives (since they figured that was safer than guns). Then they located some likely victims and set out to make film history. The only trouble was that the intended victim could not discern a fake robbery from a real robbery. So the victim took out his legally carried defensive handgun and shot the guy with the butcher knife. Thus, another budding film career went down the drain.
Finally, a number of years ago, one of my deputies recovered a stolen car and arrested the driver. Now, ours was a small southwest Texas town with an interstate highway running right through the middle of things. So recovering stolen cars wasn’t all that unusual. But what made this case stand out is that the car thief was driving a taxi cab with all the usual taxi cab markings…indicating that it was a Kansas City taxi cab. You would think that a conscientious car thief would have chosen something a little less noticeable.
On the other hand, it is over 800 miles from Kansas City to our town in southwest Texas. You have to wonder about all the other lawmen, in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, who didn’t think it was strange to see a Kansas City taxi cab roll through their jurisdiction. They couldn’t all have been on coffee break!