… and other cautionary tales and helpful hints for aspiring criminals.
JOHNSTOWN, Pa.—The fact that a man who had been freed from jail one day turned right around the next and allegedly robbed a bank suggests the kind of fierce commitment to a chosen lifestyle that puts most shilly-shallying Americans to shame.
On Feb. 1, Richard Brandon Johnson was released, on a reduced recognizance bond, from the Cambria County Prison, where he had been held on aggravated assault and other charges, according to a Feb. 2 story on the website of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Tribune-Democrat.
The next morning, according to the report, he allegedly stole a Jeep Cherokee and drove to the First Commonwealth Bank at 131 Fleming Street, Johnstown (population roughly 22,000). Inside, he approached a teller and said, “This is a robbery. Give me all of the money in your drawer and no dye packs.”
Here one is pulled up short. Dye packs? We all know the American economy is depressed, but are overworked bank tellers now so short of personal time that they attend to self-care details, such as tinting their hair, while on the job? Or have banks’ incentive prizes—Free Toaster With Your First Mortgage!—extended to include tie-dye starter kits for robbers, perhaps in a nod to 1960s revolutionary heroes such as the Students for a Democratic Society and Linc, from Mod Squad?
Perhaps, tangentially, you noticed that the robber said “Give me all of the money.” Honestly, it is simply dispiriting how few people use common courtesy anymore. If Mr. Johnson indeed committed the crime, well, then at 29 years old he should know better. Would it have killed him to have said something like, “I hate to bother you, really, but if you don’t mind, I wonder if you’d be kind enough to hand over all the money”?
It must be conceded that because the robber had no weapon, rudeness provided a tactical advantage. The teller forked over $1,100 “because of the threat,” as the teller later told a police source from an area of Pennsylvania that bears the supremely enchanting name of Upper Yoder.
On the other hand, the robber did nothing to shield his face from bank surveillance cameras, and he left a sweatshirt worn during the robbery inside the Cherokee he allegedly stole and later abandoned. This hints at a kind of nihilism the depth of which might impress French existentialists but will do nothing to endear him to judges, juries, and jailers in small-town Pennsylvania.
Mr. Johnson has been charged with robbery, theft, and receiving stolen property.
Incidentally, the truism that crime pays dividends only in emotional pain is borne out by a missive in the Comments section of the Trib-Dem’s piece: “Brandon, what is it going to take for you to pull your life together. You were raised in a Christian home all your life. You had a good life. Is this how you thank you [sic] Dad. How can you just repeadeatly [sic] break his heart over over [sic] and over. I love you with all my heart. You [sic] dad loves you more than life itself. I think this time you may be there a while young man [sic]. You should have plenty of time to read. Why not start with the Bible. Your parents do not deserve this. Your Aunt Sandy.”
We do not know if Mr. Johnson has seen his aunt’s heartfelt plea. We do know, however, that he is, in his own way, a family man. Spotting TV cameras as authorities escorted him to court, Mr. Johnson called out, “Hi, Mom.”
SILVER SPRINGS, Md.—Two young men on different sides of the globe are behind bars today because they simply could not or would not part with their cellular telephones while allegedly burgling homes.
For reasons left unstated in a Feb. 3 Associated Press report, while allegedly burgling a house a Maryland man named Cody Wilkins made the questionable decision to charge his cell phone at the scene. Startled when the homeowner’s son showed up, the burglar jumped out a window and fled. Police later discovered the burglar’s phone in the house.
The burglar’s negligence, it must be said, is completely understandable. How many times has Dudes in the News left our phone at the scenes of our own robberies-in-progress? Well, all right—never. But you see our point.
Mr. Wilkins, 25, is in a jail in Montgomery County (pop. roughly 970,000) on a $1 million bond. That amount seems steep until you understand two things: A) authorities believe he might have committed other robberies in the area; and B) a message needs to be sent to cell-phone-wielding modern-day criminals: Come On, Dude, Really, Leave the Phone at Home—YOUR Home.
Had this message been transmitted and received worldwide, it is possible that an 18-year-old Romanian man accused of attempting to rob an elderly neighbor couple late last year would still be roaming free, un-charged with any crime at all.
A Dec. 27, 2010, story from the international news agency AFP quoted a Gorj police source as saying the young man’s intended victims, two neighbors in their 70s, “were resting on their bed when [a] phone rang.” It struck the couple that someone must be in the room with them, a conclusion easily enough reached inasmuch as, according to the police source, “they have no phone.”
The young man was later arrested and charged with attempted burglary. As this is his second such arrest, he faces seven years in prison.
Taken together, these two cases say something or other about the something-something of modern communications. We have no idea what, but we promise this: when we do, we’ll text you.
While we’re robbing you.
SOMEWHERE IN POLAND—“A Polish hunter who dreamed of shooting an elephant has sued a German-based [sic] travel company after it sent him to a part of Africa where he said there were no elephants to be found, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.”
This opening paragraph of a Feb. 2 Reuters story is so rife with possibility one hardly knows where to begin.
Perhaps it’s best to commence by noting that the German, or Germany-based, travel company goes by the unbearably captivating name of Jaworski Jagdreisen.
Or that the company’s evidently nonplussed owner, by way of proving that the area of Zimbabwe to which he sent the hunter is practically overrun with elephants, told the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, “From what I know, [the hunter] should have seen elephant excrement there.”
Or that the company organized a second trip for the hunter, during which he wound up bagging (killing) an elephant, but, being a poor sport, he still filed damages worth $130,000 to cover expenses incurred in his first expedition.
Or that it’s not implausible to think that the hunter’s fiscal claims will in part cover the loss of his cell phone, which, while bracing to shoot at an elephant, he inadvertently dropped in a pile of ’phant dookie the color of which had been rendered unrecognizable by dye packs of the type employed by U.S. banks and lawsuit-averse big-game hunting companies the world (or Germany) over; and which, when it rang, he grabbed and pressed to his head, thereby smearing poo deep into his right ear, at which point he discovered that the reception was no worse than that offered by a very awful American carrier, until recently the sole provider for iPhones, the name of which rhymes with May Three and Thee; and while this last has nothing to do with disgruntled Polish hunters or even cell-phone-unaware burglars throughout the land, Dudes in the News, an iPhone user, is delighted to note that the terrible carrier’s monopoly has finally ended.
Can you hear Verizon now? Can you hear Verizon now? Can you hear Verizon now, you no-longer monopoly phone company CEO Randall Stephenson?
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.