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The hard-hitting American defence lawyer Perry Mason was created by Erie Stanley Gardner (1889—1970). With his attractive
ver secretary Delia Street an Mason specialises in taking on g their innocence. His cases g om scene in which Mason unm ed in The Case of the Velvet on series of the 1960s, actor R
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PART V. THE STUPIDEST CRIMINALS
1. Bank Robbers
LL Klaus Schmidt, 41, burst into a bank in Berlin, Germany, waved a pistol, and screamed, "Hand over the money!" The staff asked if he wanted a bag, to which he replied, "Damn right it's a
real gun!" Guessing Schmidt was deaf, the manager set off the alarm, saying later, "It was ridiculously loud, but he didn't seem to notice.1' After five minutes, punctuated by Schmidt's occasionally shouting, "I am a trained killer!" police arrived and arrested him. Schmidt then sued the bank, accusing them of exploiting his disability.
L2. Five armed raiders burst into a bank in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Their demands for money were foiled when the staff calmly opened up the safes to reveal rows of empty shelves. Unfortunately, robbers were let down by their ignorance of the republic's finances. No money had been delivered to any of the banks in Baku for the previous two months.
1.3, John Nashid from New York held up a bank in Bronx and
1.4. Scottish bank robber Derek Macfadden was caught because
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1.5. A man arrived at a bank in East Hartford, Connecticut. He was wearing a blue bandanna across his face and brandishing a pistol as he yanked at the door, only to find it was locked The bank had actually closed at 3:00. After staring at the door for a few seconds, the man ran off into a small black car. Staff still inside the bank called the police, but no arrest was made.
Perhaps even later in arriving was the gang who spent the night cutting their way into a Lloyds bank in Hampshire, England. They cut bars with a hydraulic saw, wrenched out a security grille, and punched a hole through a wall. The only problem was that the bank was closed down four years earlier, and the building was empty.
LB. From Florence, Italy, is a tale in which the guards got it wrong: security men were all too eager to help a man with his foot in a cast as he hobbled into a bank oil metal crutches. Ignoring the alarm from the metal detector at the bank's entrance, they guided the apparently disabled man to a cashier's register There he dropped his crutches, pulled a gun, and grabbed $40,000 before sprinting away.
1.7. Michael Norton stole two security cameras from the lobby of a bank. The cops were sure it was Norton, one of the neigbourghood characters, because the last pictures the cameras took showed him unscrewing them from the wall mountings. Detective Thomas Hickey set off to cruise the streets and eventually found Norton "Hey", called Hickey. "Could you explain to me houT come the bank has your picture"?" "I didn't rob the bank," Norton protested. "I just took the camera." Oops...
2.1. After he had been robbed of $20 in Winnipeg, Canada, Roger Morse asked for his wallet back. The mugger agreed, handed over his own wallet by mistake, and fled — leaving Roger $250 belter off.
2.2. In Camden, New Jersey, Clarence Gland and Kin Williams were taking a late-night stroll when a car pulled up and two men got out One of them produced a long black snake and shoved it toward Gland's face, and while the couple
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stood rigid, his associate made off with cash, a personal stereo, and a wristwatch. A snake expert later identified the reptile from its description as a completely harmless rat snake. In other words, it was not loaded.
2,3. A gun-toting mugger made a bad mistake when he held up a man who was walking home through an alley in West Virginia. Finding his victim was carrying only $13, he demanded a check for $300. The man wrote out the check, and the thief was caught the next day when he tried to cash it. As the cops said afterward: "The crook wasn't very bright."
2Л. An Italian who turned to snatching handbags to finance his drug addiction came unstuck, when he robbed his own mother by mistake, The woman was walking along the street when her son, who didn't see her face until it was too late, sped past on a motorcycle and snatched her bag. Recognising him, his mother was so angry she reported him to the police.
2.5- Belgian police quickly solved two Brussels street robberies when they heard the victims' description of the culprit: he was wearing a bright-yellow jacket and had a cast on one leg. The man was caught within 15 minutes of his second robbery,
2-6. Purse snatcher Daniel Pauchin ended up in the hospital, when he tried to rob two women in a street in Nice, France. The victims were burly transvestites who beat him up and left him with broken ribs.
2.7. Mandy Hammond from Arnold, England, went out with two friends. As they waited for a taxi, a man walked up to them and demanded Mandy's lipstick and eyeshadow. The group thought he was joking, but he then pulled a gun, held it to her friend Paul Upton's head and announced, "Don't laugh. I've got a gun, and I'll shoot if you haven't got any lipstick,' Lipstick was promptly produced, and the man strolled off. In the same month a gunman struck in Scarborough, England. Wearing a hood and dark glasses, he forced a pharmacist assistant, at gunpoint, to fill a bag with pimple cream. Police were said to be "puzzled",
3.1. Edward Williams of Houston, Texas, was fined $10,000 and put on 10 years' probation. He had formerly been a storeroom supervisor at Houston's Jefferson Davis Hospital, and he had been
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convicted of stealing 79,680 rolls of toilet paper. No one knew for sure what he'd done with the purloined paper
3.2. Car thief in Hotloway, north of London, got away with something special. Tucked away in the trunk of his car was a box containing 120 plastic earholes. They were plastic molds made for the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, to allow hearing aids to be tailor-made for patients. One can only imagine the thief trying to sell them on the open market: "Ere, buddy — wanna buy some plastic ear'oles?"
3.3. The day after winning $640,000 in Italy's national lottery, Flavio Maestrini was arrested for stealing $400 from a shop. Appearing in court, he explained that he didn't enjoy spending money unless it was stolen.
3.4. A Russian man arrived at his country retreat near
3.5. Members of a British Rail cricket team turned up for the first match of the season at their field near Kidderminster, England. The pavilion had disappeared How one steals an eight-room building without anyone noticing remains a mystery.
3.6. Alan Omonde appeared in court in Uganda on the charge of stealing an old man's big edible rat Omonde was given 12 strokes of the cane for stealing John Onyait's smoked rat, while Onyait lamented that he'd been deprived of his favourite dish. Omonde was also ordered to hunt down and trap five more edible rats as a fine payable to his elderly victim.
4- Escape Artists
4.1. Two prisoners tried to escape from an appearance at a court in Watford, England Forgetting that they were handcuffed together, they ran on either side of a lamppost Having hurtled into one another, the stunned pair was grabbed by the guard and bundled into a waiting prison van.
4-2, Relatives bribed a prison guard to smuggle a bunch of bananas to an inmate at Pecs, Hungary. Unfortunately the guard ran into the prison commander, and apparently unaware that there might be anything wrong with them, offered him his choice of the fruit. Needless to say, the commander chose the wrong banana, bit into the metal file contained within, and had the guard up on charges.
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4.3. A certain Mr. Jorgen appeared on a Danish TV quiz show and easily outclassed his opponents. He was just about to take off with nearly $700 and a vacation for two in Marbella, Spain, when the producer took him aside: it seemed security wanted a word. Jorgen had been on the run for the previous 18 months, and his TV-addict prison officer had recognised him.
4.4. Double murderer David Graham was only too obliging when prison officers in Florida asked him to try to escape so they could test a new tracking dog. They even gave him a 30-minute start. Graham did his part perfectly, but the dog didn't. Local police were called in to join the search, but Graham was long gone. A much better sniffer dog was employed at a jail in Mexico City, Mexico. It found Darren Brown hiding in a laundry van — which probably saved Brown a great deal of disappointment, as the laundry van's immediate destination was another prison.
4.5. Three imprisoned robbers broke out of a new jail in Aixen-Frovence, France by climbing ladders left behind by workmen. The workers had been erecting wires intended to deter helicopter-aided escapes from the prison yard, but in preventing the high-tech breakouts, they seem to have forgotten all about the low-tech ones.
4.6. An unnamed man reportedly climbed the wad of
5.1. Steven Kemble was arrested in St. George, Utah, when he tried to flee after shoplifting a CD. After being briefly detained by a store clerk, he broke free, dashed out the door, and ran into a pillar in front of the shop, knocking himself unconscious.
5.2. Roy Philips Downfall was a colour fellow. Appearing in court on shoplifting charges, he wore a yellow parka, yellow shirt, yellow pants, and a yellow tie. It was a similar dress that drew him to the attention of the store detective at a supermarket in Oldham, England, where everything he was after had a yellow connection; jellies, mustard, cheese, three pairs of socks, and two pairs of underpants, He was given a one-month suspended sentence.
5.3. In Johannesburg, South Africa, a shoplifter with a passion for cheese was caught for the sbcth time after stealing gouda and
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Cheddar, Cleopas Ntima told police he paid for his other groceries, but said Voices1 told him to take the cheese.
6.1- Mr. Wazir Jiwi was the only clerk in a Lite night shop in Houston, Texas, when he found himself looking at two pistols. "You don't need two," he told the bandit "Why don't you sell me one of them?" The gunman named his price at $100; Jiwi handed over the cash and was given the gun As he placed it under the counter, he pushed the button that locked the shop door. They then agreed on the price for the other gun. The outlaw grabbed the second bundle of cash, put his other pistol on the counter, and tried to leave. When he found he could not get out, Jiwi told him to bring the money back and he would let him go. And he did let him go, presumably guessing that anyone that stupid would get arrested soon enough anyway,
6.2. An armed man in Groinmgen, northern Holland, handed a shopkeeper a note demanding money. The man behind the counter took one look and then wrote his own terse reply: "Bug off" (or the nearest Dutch equivalent). And the gunman did, too, fleeing empty-handed.
6.3. When John Gregory came to trial, the tale that came out was one of high farce rather than high drama, Gregory and an accomplice had attempted to rob a video-shop in Feltham, England, but unfortunately they were so dense, they thought the shop's typewriter was the cash register and ordered the manager, at gunpoint, to 'open it up1. Even after they'd spotted their mistake, they still managed to grab only five pounds before their shotgun went off accidentally, which scared them so much they fled, dropping the cash in the shop's doorway. The net return for the robbery was no money and 4 years* youth custody.
6.4. A robber armed with a sausage raided a shop in Graz, Austria, and escaped with 1,600 shillings- Storekeeper Rudy Buckmeister was hit over the head with the ten-pound sausage. "It felt like a baseball bat," he said.
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6.5. Clive Bunyan burst into a store near Scarborough, England, brandishing a toy revolver and wearing a crash helmet and a mask. He got the shop clerk to hand over 250 pounds and fled outside to his motorcycle. However, he'd forgotten that written on his helmet in inch-high letters was "CLIVE BUNYAN — DRIVER". He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.
7.1. Having broken into a Hong Kong garment factory and found nothing worth stealing, burglar Yu Kin-Fong left a note saying; "Put some money here next time or 1*11 set fire to your factory. You make me do this for nothing. I can't even find 10 cents." He was tracked down and sentenced to 3 years.
7.2. Gloria Smile opened.the door to find the reformed burglar in his twenties standing on her doorstep. Returning to the scene of his crimes in Westclif f, England, the young man said he had found God, apologized to her and handed her a shopping bag containing a silver coffeepot, creamer, and sugar bowl. Unfortunately' he'd gone to the wrong house; Ms. Smile hadn't been his victim.
7.3. Two burglars raiding the Browns family home in Coventry, England got a little help from four-year-old Russell Brown. He got up to investigate when he heard a noise at 3 am, but the strangers he found in the darkened living room whispered that they were friends of his mommy and daddy who had come to borrow the stereo^ VCR, and TV, but didn't want to disturb them because it was so late. Russell was delighted to help, and held the back door open for his visitors as they left with their haul, before going back upstairs to bed. The men were later arrested and the property recovered.
7.4. Two 78-year-old burglars were caught red-handed in a house in San Paolo, Brazil, when the occupants of the house returned unexpectedly. The one inside was too deaf to hear the warning of hia accomplice outside, and the lookout man was not fit enough to escape.
7.5. Three burglars who broke into a cottage found nothing inside, literaUy. It was a front, held up by scaffolding and used by BBC for filming a drama at Ewenny, Wales.
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