Saturday, February 25, 2006

PC Plod

Crime is not a light-hearted subject. Violence against people or property is no laughing matter. General disgust is more the general publics' proper reaction to incidents of lawlessness. Quite right too. Yet, for some reason, let a bunch of crooks walk off with a large sum of money from one of the big banks and our attitudes change into something close to admiration. Mind you, some of the daft things the coppers do in pursuit of the criminals makes it all the more amusing to say the least.

There was a program on TV called, “America's Dumbest Criminals” - or something very similar. This show featured the mind-stupefying antics of criminals who were so stupid as to be hardly able to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. And, it was all based on true stories. Funny stuff. Unless you happened to be one of the numskulls being featured. I'm sure the unspoken “message” of the program (to be consumed by the kids who were watching) was, “See how incredibly stupid crooks are? You don't want to be this stupid – do you?” Whether this experiment in social engineering had any affect, I just don't know.

Real life of course can be far more interesting and amusing. Thus, when some enterprising crooks walked off with 50 million this week from a storage facility in Kent, lots of people were secretly thinking, “Well done, lads! Wish I'd have thought of that!” The best thing about this crime was that no-one actually got hurt (though the manager of the facility and his family were kidnapped and threatened) and the “victim” was the Bank of England – who actually “owned” the notes in question. A more “victimless” crime it would be hard to imagine.

So, enter the local police whose job it is to find the crooks and make sure justice is done. How do they go about this? Well, they investigate. First, they go and take into custody for questioning all the known crooks and villains they can find. Starting with those nearest the scene of the robbery. What they hope is that even if they haven't done the crime, the crooks will know who has. Sometimes this even works.

Two other people in Forest Hill, South London, were arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a robbery, as detectives drew up a list of the usual suspects — the 20 or so criminals believed capable of organising such a sting — and released an e-fit of one of the men, who posed as a police officer. All three suspects were later bailed. - The Times

Many years ago there was a murder in the village where I lived. An old lady was beaten to death just around the corner from me. I first heard about this when I met a friend – who was a Special Constable – and he told me about it – under the strict understanding that I keep quiet. Ten minutes later, in the pub, we found out that the whole village already knew about it. Next lunchtime you could not get to the bar of the pub because it was wall to wall coppers. They had set up a mobile incident room down my road. They knocked on my door and wanted to know where I had been at the time of the murder. Fortunately, I had been in my solicitor's office at the time! Lucky me!

This went on for two or three days. By that time, they had interviewed nearly everyone in the village (it was a small village). They found nothing. A week later they got a call from the mother of the murderer who told PC Plod that she had found a blood-stained shirt in her son's room and could they please come and get him. Case solved. Great police work? Not really. Every policeman knows that without the help of the public they are unlikely to solve many crimes. The corollary is also equally valid – with information from the public, solving the crime is easy.

What has this to do with the millions missing in Kent? A lot. Apparently the crooks are a lot smarter than the ones who feature on “America's Dumbest”.

Detectives hunting the armed gang responsible for stealing up to £50million in Britain’s biggest cash robbery have arrested two people, police confirmed last night. The suspects, a man aged 29 and a woman aged 31, were arrested separately in South London.

It is understood that the woman walked into the Portman Building Society in Bromley, Kent, and said that she wanted to make a large deposit. Staff, noticing that the £6,000 was bound with tape marked Tonbridge, kept her talking while they phoned the police. - EDP

At first glance, this looks pretty dumb. But, is it?

Detectives investigating Britain's biggest armed robbery have found an undisclosed sum of money - possibly in the order of several million pounds - in the back a white Ford Transit van abandoned in a hotel car park.

Witnesses described seeing officers in white overalls struggling to lift two large black bags from the rear of the van in the Ashford International Hotel in Maidstone, Kent, several miles from the scene of the raid on a Security cash depot in Tonbridge two days ago. - The Times

Looks like the police are on the case and winning! I'm afraid this is a classic case of looks can be deceiving. Finally we had a “security consultant” being interviewed on the news with an explanation that may be closer to the truth. I hate to be an “I told you so” but I have been telling people for two days that the money in the transit van and the Portman Building Society is just a red herring. And, a clever one at that! “Security Consultant” agrees. The boys have 50 million – what's the odd million to them? So, they leave bags of money lying around in various places in the South-east hoping that mugs will find it and try to put it in the bank. One lady did. Some idiot – instead of taking some of the million or so in the white van (what a plonker!) actually called the police to report something suspicious. I know we're a ways from Kent but any vans parked around here that look abandoned – I'm checking them out! If there's lots of money inside – PC Plod, don't hold your breath waiting for a call!

There was a famous case (so famous I can find no reference to it!) in Missouri where a local smeg-head that everyone knew deserved to be dead was murdered and everyone in town knew who did it. Police arrived. No-one would tell who did it. End of case. This is where the police are now. If no-one talks and the crooks are pretty much unknown – they may never catch them! Every dog is entitled to one bite! No doubt the detectives have their list of usual suspects. If these boys are not on it – it could be a long investigation.

Lest anyone reading this be in any doubt where my sympathies lie: this was a despicable crime. The manager of the storage facility and his family (assuming they were not part of the plan) were put in fear of their lives, the employees (at least the ones that according to the police were not in on it ) were no doubt scared to death and anyone crossing the robbers' path would have been and will be in great jeopardy. It's fun to laugh about only because, apparently, no-one was hurt in this crime. That doesn't excuse the crime – it's just mitigation. If and when they are caught, they will go down for a long time. You can bet on that.

No comments: