Stupid Criminal Tricks - Oklahoma Crimes and Criminals
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 96 14:48:05 -0700
Subject: Stupid Criminal Tricks - Oklahoma Crimes and Criminals
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From: The Sunday Oklahoman, September 10, 1995,
Bumbling Bandits, Careless Crooks Give Police Last Laugh
By Penny Owen
Being a criminal can take planning, dedication and whole lot of nerve.
But it doesn't take much intelligence.
Police everywhere get a good laugh behind the scenes at some of the
stupid things criminals do to get caught.
For instance, undercover officers arranged a drug deal recently in a
Midwest City hotel room and wanted to keep the phone line clear for the
dealer to call. Instead, they kept getting calls from a prostitute next door
who was eying her two "single neighbors."
The woman haggled over the price, offered a lower rate and finally made
a deal police couldn't refuse.
"She offers to throw in a baggie of maijuana to sweeten the deal" Lt.
Charles Duncan said. "That finally got her busted."
Some robbers have too much faith in their fear tactics-like the one who
entered a northside convenience store, produced a knife and announced a
robbery, then put the knife back in his bag and set it on the counter.
The clerk grabbed the bag, and the thief went to jail.
One greedy thief stole the surveilance camera out of a Midwest City
business he was burglarizing.
"But he didn't stop to think it was battery-operated and the camera
keeps rolling" Lt. Charles Duncan said. There, on the kitchen table, the
camera captured the whole family in action. "He was caught two days later"
Duncan said. "The film was very convincing in court."
Here's a piece of advice for would-be robbers: It's probably not a good
idea to rob a place you once worked for, especially if you stutter.
One such robber held up eight dry cleaning stores where he once
delivered laundry to from the main plant. "He wore a ski mask but he had a
terrible, terrible stutter," Sgt. Glen Despain said. "And they recognized
him because of it."
Some criminals don't handle their illegal activity well. Police and
medics responded last January to a southwest Oklahoma City driveway where
they found a 33-year-old man, pants down to his ankles and crack pipe in
The frantic man told police he had been smoking crack cocaine "when all
of a sudden he had a massive gas attack."
The man was taken to the hospital for treatment-then to jail for drug
A few months ago, police canine units were patrolling the Oklahoma City
bus station when a young man got off a bus carrying an obviously broken-down
"He was real nervous," Sgt. Steve McCool recalled. "And real protective
of that stereo." After eyeing each other awhile, the kid strikes up a
conversation with the officers and a dog.
"Does that dog bite?" he asks the cop. "Not unless you're carrying
narcotics," Sgt. Charlie Roberts answered. "He takes the stereo, throws it
about 6 feet away from him," McCool said. "Inside is about 2 pounds of
Then there was the semi-honest crook being questioned about an auto
theft four months ago. He kept saying he didn't know how they could charge
him for a stolen car.
"Finally he said, 'I pulled the burglary but I didn't steal the car'"
Detective Ramon Lira said. "I didn't mention anything about the burglary."
And then there are crooks who just aren't cut out to be crooks.
Last Christmas, one would-be robber took sympathy on his victim when
she complained about being broke for the holidays.
As the masked man held a gun to Betty Smith's head in the salon where
she was getting her hair done, she told him how she just didn't have the
money to have a good Christmas this year, much less finance a robbery.
"I'm sorry," the masked robber said as he backed out the door. "I'm so
sorry." The woman locked the door and called 911, in case he changed his
Folks would have thought one robber craved the limelight when, while
cameras were rolling, he robbed a news crew.
About a year ago, a news crew was filming a live shot from a convenience
store in the 3700 block of South May Avenue, when "a punk out of nowhere
pulls a knife out and tries to rob (one of the crewmen)," Sgt. Roger
Bratcher said. "And the news crew was filming it."
Needless to say, that was his last robbery for a while.
Some busts are too easy, like when Lt. Bill King got a tip that a blind
man was selling marijuana. King simply knocked on the man's door-in uniform-
and asked for a sale. Twenty bucks later, the blind man found his way to
Traffic stops can be a breeze, especially if the criminal does all the
work. Back in his patrol days, Inspector Nick Pittman pulled a guy over who
ran a stop light.
"We pulled him over really just to check him out and warn him, see if
he had a driver's license," Pittman said. As usual, Pittman asked the guy
if he knew why he was pulled over.
"Could it be for stealing this car?" the man asked.
Elsewhere, a dangerous, 125 mph chase to catch a burglary suspect paid
off when the conscientious driver took care to signal his every turn.
"He didn't mind getting popped for burglary, receiving stolen property,"
Sgt. Brian Davenport said. "He just didn't want to get a traffic ticket."
A felon was apparently enjoying his notoriety when pulled over on a
routine traffic stop by the Texas police last February. There, in his
pocket, police found a torn-out, folded newspaper clipping of his "Most
Wanted" column from The Oklahoman.
"The police there wouldn't have even known we wanted him," Sgt. Roger
Perhaps that guy could have taught something to the murder suspect who,
while on the lam from Illinois, tried to make a citizen's arrest.
Last December, a man thought he caught a neighborhood kid stealing stuff
out of his car. Never mind that the man was wanted on two murder charges in
Illinois- he pointed a gun at the kid, handcuffed him and forced him into
his car. A witness called police and when the man returned home with the
boy, there were the cops.
"They were just going to say, 'Hey what's up with this deal?' and he bolted."
Sgt. Lisa Pritchard said. A record check put the guy in handcuffs and on
the road back to Illinois.
Then there is the motto, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try
again". Three months ago, a woman walked into an Oklahoma City check cashing
place with a $50,000 check and tried to cash it. The clerk told her the
check didn't have the proper coding, so the woman left-but she showed up
five minutes later with another, different, $50,000 check. It didn't take
a scholar to pick up the phone and call the police.
Explanations are always fun. Lt. King recently pulled over a young guy
who gave him one driver's license, then tried to switch it with another one
that had a different name and age.
When King asked him who the other license belonged to, the kid said his
twin brother. "We have different fathers," he explained, when asked why they
had different last names.
"He went to jail," King said.
Some time ago, Sgt. Dennis Lippe said he was testifying on the witness
stand, and the judge asked him to point out the suspect in the courtroom.
"Here I am, your honor," the suspect offered.
An Oklahoma City resident was awakend in January by sounds on her
rooftop. "Who is it?" she hollered through her chimney.
"Santa Claus!" came the answer. The would-be burglar was stuck and
firefighter had to cut a hole in the chimney to get him out.
" I thought he was a little late," the homeowner said at the time.
"Christmas was two weeks ago."
Of course, police don't mind a little stupidity. It makes their jobs
"Crooks aren't rocket scientists," Bratcher said. "And it's a good
© 1996 Peter Langston