Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Imagination of Criminals

Where I live, crime is only limited by the imagination of the criminals. I got mugged about 10 years ago by three men with two guns (one of which turned out to be plastic.) It felt real enough when they came up behind me put a hand over my mouth and hold it to my back. Then  they shoved me to the sidewalk and ran their hands through my pockets -- but since I was lying on my belly and my pants have deep pockets, they didn't get the $17 and credit card I was carrying. They also checked my ears and neck for jewelry (I wasn't wearing any) and tried to take off my wedding band. I've gained weight since my wedding, and that ring isn't going anywhere. 

All they got was my cloth grocery bag full of manuscripts. I was returning from a writers' workshop. I guess they could tell none of those manuscripts was worthy of a Nobel Prize because they dropped the sack before they got to the corner. Not only did they get nothing for their efforts, they mugged me under a street lamp while Town Watch was across the street.  Town watch tailed them for eight minutes, all the while talking on their cell phones telling the police which way they had gone. All three were arrested, and after Iwent to court 14 times, all three were convicted.

I got skinned hands and a skinned knee. They got 2 years of evening and weekend jail.

Last week, when I went to the ATM to deposit some checks, I encountered a robbery in progress. The bank has a card-reader swipe gadget that is supposed to block entry to people who don't have ATM cards. But it was broken. Anybody could open the door to the room with the money machines.  A young man shoved a woman out of the way and took her ATM card as it came out of the machine.  He did this in full view of the surveillance camera. I tried to explain the camera to him.  He played keep away with the card. The woman stood there saying, "I don't believe this!"  I stood in front of the camera and yelled "Help! Help!" The young man got bored with his keep-away game that nobody was playing and shoved me aside as he made his exit. I continued yelling. Two men on the sidewalk heard me. They called 911. This time the police showed up almost as soon as the woman was done calling her bank to cancel her card. The woman whose card was taken got into the car. One of the men on the sidewalk told the officer which way the thief had run.  I don't know if he was caught. But I do know his image was caught on the camera and the card he stole was canceled. 

The next business day I called the bank to tell them the card-reader was broken. They transferred me three times and then said they'd call me back.  That was a week ago.  They have not called back. I've got another deposit to make today. I hope it is less eventful.

Criminals here seem to be very short on imagination. Robbing old ladies doesn't pay.

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