Dumb and Dumber

I had my camera and new zoom lens stolen, my car window smashed but at least I didn’t have three dimwitted teenagers pump me full of bullets like the armored car employee in Toronto. There is not a large gap between breaking into cars and stealing or knocking over the local corner store or going for a big score with an armored car. These actions don’t usually come without a history, although the police say the three alleged culprits had no previous record. That may simply be that one of them was just smart enough to observe the obvious.

As a teacher of forty years, high school, college, university, I don’t like to diss the dolts but dolts there are. Dolts are people who can’t make connections between acts and consequences. You know, the Victoria police are taking down a street corner drug dealer and half a block away another dealer is collecting money and handing over drugs and standing on tip toe to watch what is going down. I’ve heard of people like this as having a flat line learning curve. The words “likely consequences” simply don’t mean anything. Questions such as “What do you think might happen if you do that?”, that being taking a rifle stolen in a B&E and holding up a local bakery, gets a shrug of the shoulders. The shrug of the shoulders is because the person being questioned is thinking, “I’ve got a rifle, I want some money to go partying, buy booze, drugs, the bakery has money, I’ll hold them up, they’ll give me their money, and I’ll go out and have a good time.”

“You will probably get caught,” comes as a suggestion that seems quite impossible and can be mitigated with a paper bag with eye holes pulled over the perp’s head. The linear thinking doesn’t allow for analyzing past experiences of bakery-holder-uppers. Doesn’t mean researching the fate of bank-holder-uppers as being caught within fifteen minutes of a robbery. Doesn’t mean finding out how much money is in a bakery till on a Friday night and matching the proceeds against the consequences of armed robbery, or attempted murder if the baker decides to fight back.

I use the example of the bakery hold up because many years ago, the bright lights in one of my classes decided they were going to finance a hot weekend this way.

Knocking over an armored car is a step up. There’s a lot of money. The guards are armed. They can communicate with the police. Frankly, the risks are so great that I can only vaguely remember an armored car being knocked over somewhere in the distant past. It’s more the stuff of movies from the nineteen thirtees and forties. Maybe the alleged perps watched a lot of black and white movies and said, “Yeah, that’s the way to go.” I wonder if they searched through thrift shops to find old fashioned felt hats, had cigarettes in the corner of their mouths as they lurked about. Obviously, they must have cased the joint, does anyone say “cased the joint” anymore?

A defense lawyer may plead desperation, the overwhelming need for a pair of three hundred dollar running shoes, the psychological devastation wrought by not being able to shop for name brands, the need for status driving away common sense. Don’t believe a word of it. It’s simply the inability to connect cause and effect. You know: if I try to hold up an armored car, the guard is armed and will likely shoot at me, I’ll shoot back, the moment I do, I’ll be guilty of attempted murder, or worse, murder, I’m eighteen, I’m facing a life sentence, I’ll spend from eighteen to forty-three years in prison with a bunch of people who aren’t socially desirable companions. Nope. The armored car guys have bags of money, I want bags of money, they, the selfish bastards won’t give me the bags of money, I’ve got a pistol, I’ll make them give me the bags of money and then I’ll have lots of money and can shop all I want. I remember wanting to shout into the ears of dolts like this, “There isn’t much classy shopping done in prison.”

Of the three alleged perps, one must have been smarter than the other two. That’s usually how it works. The smarter guy (I didn’t say smart) will have concocted a plan, explained how it would work, the bountiful rewards, will be the leader. If the guard hadn’t been shot, if the charges weren’t so serious, if the likely sentence wasn’t so long and the brains behind the operation was back out on the street, I know exactly what he’d be telling his potential gang. Bad luck, it was all bad luck in an unreasonable world. We’ll do it again and we’ll be luckier this time. The ability to think cause and effect won’t have been improved.

They would have been better to stick to property crimes. There are so many of them, that trying to report one to the Winnipeg police on the phone means waiting for an hour or so to get one’s turn. There are so many property crimes that the police force has resorted to having victims report on line. The police do their best but they’re like King Canute trying to drive back the ocean waves by beating them with a chain. Manitobans need to pay more taxes, need to hire more police, give them more equipment and while they do their best to hold back the tsunami of lower level criminality, pay yet more taxes to remedy the social ills that foster crime.

Of course, this is theft at its most basic level. Maybe I am being unfair. Maybe the perps are well read. Maybe they’ve read of all the theft at the top of the financial chain, millions and millions, if not billions, with no consequences, white collar crime, and thought they should get some of the loot before it all disappears.