READY: No dumb crime goes unpunished

Mary Ready, Ready or Not

Among my favorite sources of amusement are the crimes committed by truly stupid people. In 2013, there was an abundance of them. Allow me to share the ones I like best.

Austin Lee Westfall Presler robbed a convenience store of a mini-party’s worth of candy, snacks, cigarettes, beer and energy drinks. Apparently he couldn't control his hunger until he got home. Cops basically followed a trail of Cheetos right back to his porch.

Calling 911 to insist a police officer bring you a cheeseburger is pretty dumb. Calling 911 nine times to demand a cheeseburger is outrageously stupid. But calling 911 nine times to demand a cop brings you a cheeseburger when there's a warrant for your arrest is so breathtakingly moronic that it’s hard to top Gregory Jackson, Sr., for dumbest criminal of the year.

But there are other, equally strong contestants.

A robber was waiting in line at a downtown Bank of America after having written an extremely misspelled note to give the teller, informing them of his intentions. However, after a few minutes, he began to fear that somebody had seen him write the note and called the police, so instead he made his way to Wells Fargo across the street. He waited in line there and gave his note to the teller, who read it and judged from the awful grammar that he must not be too bright. She said that since the note had been written on a deposit slip from Bank of America, he’d have to go back there or fill out a slip for Wells Fargo. The robber returned to the Bank of America while she called the police, who arrested him a few minutes later standing in line.

He deserves whatever jail time he got, not only for stupidity, but egregious assaults on the English language.

And here’s another one when the dummy was outwitted by an astute clerk.

A man entered a liquor store with a dubious looking weapon and nervously demanded all the money from the cash register. He then picked up a bottle of scotch and told the cashier to give him that, too. The cashier refused, saying he did not believe the man was over 21. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the cashier, the man took out his driver’s license and showed it to him. The cashier agreed and gave him the scotch. Then after the man had left, called the police and gave them the name and address from the man’s driver’s license. The robber was arrested within two hours.

And next comes a stupid criminal tricked by a clever cop.

A woman called the police to report a stolen car and told them her cell phone was inside it. The police officer took the number and called it, and the thief picked up. The officer on the phone said that he had seen the car for sale on Craigslist and wondered if they could meet up. The thief, who was a joy-riding teenager, thinking he was about to make big bucks, agreed, and was subsequently arrested.

Now for my very personal favorite. But, I have to reveal, it may be an urban legend made popular in 2013. reports several versions of this one and advises it may not be a genuine “dumb criminal” tale. Somehow, I think it did really happen and maybe even more than once, especially since I still have some faith in the philosophy of crime doesn’t pay. This particular story appeared in a recent issue of Road and Track Magazine:

When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man, retching violently, curled up next to the vehicle in a pool of spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he's ever had. 

I can’t wait for the next batch of stupid criminal stories for 2014.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.